I consider this a bit of a "How-To" guide to not screwing up your life because of the education system.
Education, Jobs, and Life in the USA are broken.
Top to bottom, side to side, going to school is an increasingly terrible deal. The problem is, being un-educated in our society is often an even worse deal. Like our elections, the education system is designed to make you choose between crap choices as a form of ongoing control. School is a form of control, most jobs are a form of control, almost everything about your life is an attempt to turn you into a cog in the machine whether it's good for you or not.
If you are like me and hate being controlled, that's probably why you are here exploring crypto currencies and steemit. I doubled down and moved abroad, everything I could to escape that system.
These are things I learned to go from making 30k to over 100k a year and travel the world.
How to go to school and not get screwed
If you want to be free, the best way is to not get trapped in the first place. Schools will tell you your degree doesn't matter (they did to me), to follow your dreams (you'd probably be in a band), etc. This is all garbage advice given to you by someone whose great achievement is being stuck mentoring clueless kids - like they have a clue.
There is nothing wrong to going to school if you do it right. That's what we're going to cover next.
Everything the "career councilors" tell you is probably wrong.
First off, nobody gives a shit about your grades except grad school. So don't sweat that too much. What you need are the following, in order:
- Distinguishing features
- Don't be obnoxious
Contacts will give you inside access to jobs and other people who can help you. Skills will help you impress them and others, and distinguishing features (more on that later) will make you memorable.
Ace all 3 and you'll never worry about jobs. If you want to survive without a job, same basic stuff applies. And let's be clear: there is nothing wrong with having a job (that doesn't suck). Right now everybody's going crazy for startups but most of those crash and burn and if you aren't one of the rich kids who can withstand the burn, a job that pays great is how you can get enough capital in the bank to do something more daring.
Let's talk about how you can get the things you need to live a kick-ass life.
If you can learn it on the internet, (generally) don't mess with it in school
Failure to obey this is why liberal arts majors are heavily unemployed whereas STEM people are not. But even in STEM, if you teach yourself programming then you can skip school anyway. That's harder with say, nuclear physics or advanced materials science.
The way to think about school is a few years of mostly free time with which you can learn useful things and meet people. If the things you are learning about are commonly available on the net, you don't want to deal with them in school.
What's out: Pretty much everything in the liberal arts not attached to a functional skill.
What's in: Design and graphics, (most) STEM stuff, Trade skills*
Don't count out trade skills, some of the people I know with tons of cash are tradesmen with the smarts and will to build their own business with those skills and make a few hundred grand a year. At the same time, most of that stuff doesn't require school unless there are licensing requirements.
Learn business, but not through classes
When I was in school I met the CEO of iContact, Ryan Allis. He "studied business" by using his time at college to build a startup. He came from money - he could afford to crash and burn. But because of this he became a millionaire before he was 30. He used his time wisely - definitely wiser than I did before I learned all this.
No matter what you are studying, start selling it. You will learn about the time value of money, about how to be efficient, about how to pitch services. No school can prep you for this half as much as actually doing it. DO NOT worry if you are "good enough". As long as you think you can do something AT ALL, it's worth taking on.
As a bonus, you will meet people and gain contacts. You'll quickly discover your strengths and weaknesses. You want to know this, to capitalize on your strengths and dodge the rest. No matter what you do, if you are EXCELLENT and can run it as a business, you will ALWAYS have options. < Reread that. You need both. Being excellent isn't enough, and "having a business" isn't enough. But both is.
Find complementary contacts
If your talent is code, hang out with marketing people (and vice versa). They'll rub off on you. They'll also have access to totally different types of contacts than you will. This is key. Companies need a variety of skills, and if you hang out with people that have the same skills you do, then you close lots of opportunities to get recommended. Even worse, you shut off the opportunity to have an on-call "dream team" when you want to do your own thing.
How to get those distinguishing features
I've been doing hiring for myself and other companies for years. I can't tell you the number of times I get a block of resumes that might as well be photocopies - especially from kids coming out of the same school. They take the same classes, do the same projects. It's boring and unhelpful. The people who get interviews did something different. It almost doesn't matter what that is, just that they did it.
So if you are in school and reading this: Find a way to do different projects than your classmates.
Get a custom curriculum
One very underused feature of our silly universities is they will let you create a custom degree. Usually this gets exercised by people wanting to study random silly stuff like comparative medieval poetry or something. But you can use this to your advantage as well. Ideally, you've already started "shopping yourself" and have an idea of your skills.
Design your curriculum so that the "classes" you have involve you strenghtening your business skills or hanging out with contacts. For instance, work with a professor to have a "class" where you hang out and study professionals in the real world. I did this in grad school and it paid off handsomely.
Take on a real-world project. Some schools will let you get paid. Get paid. This will make you stand out.
Keep in touch with contacts from this. A single recommendation from a person I met on one of those projects doubled my income. This might (and did) happen years in the future.
Recognize good contacts
Good contacts follow the same rules I've outlined above: They network, they are GOOD, they are unique enough that people will notice them, and they don't piss people off.
If you meet someone who meets all 4 criteria: keep in touch. If they meet zero, move on. Anyone who is good at networking and not obnoxious is worth keeping up with.
Passion is mostly bullshit. Do what you find you are GOOD at and as long as you don't hate it you'll be pretty happy. I've heard people tell me they are passionate about "working with people", "making the world a better place", etc. Those aren't jobs or passions those are values. And if you are GOOD at something then you can eventually find people who will pay you well do to what you are good at in a way that aligns with your values. My values were freedom and fun. I told my CEO I worked on a cash + adventure reward system. I was GOOD, so I got no shit about working from a laptop while riding across the USA on a Harley.
Just be GOOD and leverage that into everything else.