We’ve all had crazy dreams in some point of our lives.
Having your own skyscraper; landing a career you never thought you could; becoming a multi-millionaire or even being the best in your field that the world has ever seen. These are huge shoes to fill. How do you get yourself from zero to hero?
More often than not, it is the inaction, rather than failure, that prevents us from realising our dreams. Here are 6 quick steps you can take to overcome the daunting learning curve, and hustle yourself towards your desired success.
1. Groundwork: Getting to know yourself
Here’s the harsh truth. Many of us barely know ourselves.
Yet we often shy away from careers and paths less travelled – on the pretence that it doesn’t suit us. Before you hastily conclude that a tried and tested career path must be the one for you (only to realise too late that it isn’t), these are some tough questions you should answer.
- What do you feel strongly for?
- What are the red tapes you would never cross?
- What gets you excited for the day ahead?
- What does success look like to you?
Sit yourself down for an hour to mull through these questions. Trust us, you’d rather figure yourself out now, than hustle for years, only to wish for a reset button to start over again.
2. The Blueprint: Overcoming The Skill Gap
Congratulations. You should now have a clearer idea of success and the next question you’ll probably be asking is: Do I have what it takes now?
In all honesty, the answer is likely a no. But that is the same for everyone. Nobody was born an expert. Here are 8 quick steps you can take, to align your skills to that of your goal.
- Sit down.
- Write down 5 skills you will need to excel in your desired career.
- Rank yourself on the scale of 1-5 on each skill. How confident are you in each of them?
- Rank each skill in order of importance. Which skill is most critical in supporting your dream?
- Pick a skill to start working on.
- Set yourself a time frame to master the skill. 2 months? 6 months?
- Review your progress every month. Has the skill gap decreased, or are you stagnating on the same spot?
Afraid of public speaking? Join your school’s Toastmasters club or sign up for public speaking opportunities that will allow you to meet and network with more strangers. No knowledge of coding? Attend coding related seminars or simply start learning on Codeacademy. Udemy is another great site for you to hone your technical skills.
Five minutes of consistent hard work each day can go a long way in bringing you closer to where you want to be.
3. Power Up: Read, Read and Read Extensively.
Time to equip yourself with the basic industrial knowledge.
Subscribe to 2-3 key industry blogs, and keep yourself updated on the latest happenings in the industry. Some of these blogs also give great tips you can use to level up your technical skills. Give yourself a goal of reading at least 1 industry blog post each day.
Think you’ll procrastinate? Quick tip: Set your web browser’s homepage to one of these industry blogs. In this case, even if you’re too busy to read the article, you’ll get a good glimpse at the industry happenings by glancing through the article headers.
Having industry knowledge or understanding gives you an edge over your peers who do not know as much as you do. On top of that, it also shows your prospective employers how keen are you in the industry. Showing that you are able to give constructive comments, grounded in holistic industrial understanding, signals a green light to employers.
4. Hustle Forward: Internships Get You One Foot in the Door
An internship or attachment is the golden ticket to your dream job. The numbers have agreed that you have 70% chance of landing a full-time job with the company you interned with. Sometimes, it does not even matter that your internship has nothing to do with your dream job. Use the opportunity to build your network. Get an up-close view of what your dream job entails.
If you’re finding it hard to land an internship you desire, think of it this way. A recruiter once told us how some students have requested to work over summer without pay, just to gain work experience and get a sense of the career fit. If this is the kind of competition you are up against, it may be time to rethink if you are hustling enough to get to what you want.
Identify two to three internships opportunities that you are interested in and are relevant to your desired area of future employment. Send in your resume, arrange for coffee chats and be resourceful in hustling your way to nailing that internship.
5. Wisdom of the Crowd: Seek Advice
No, we aren’t just referring to your best friend, Google. Look closer.
Your friends and relatives working in the industry are exclusive sources of insights and behind the scenes scoops that only you’ll get to enjoy (because you know them). Better still, don’t just leave a lecture or seminar by bidding your Professor goodbye. Start a conversation with your school’s Professors – many of them used to be industry veterans themselves or are well-acquainted with some. This is definitely a under-tapped resource that you should leverage on.
Chances are, you will be given a very realistic perspective on that job, rooted in first-hand experience. All that juicy information is literally a ping away.
If you’re up for the challenge, who says you should only ping the people you know? Go on LinkedIn, or Google professionals in your dream industry that you want to meet and connect over coffee with. Ping them. You’ll be surprised by how many are willing to speak to young people to share their experiences.
6. Supercharge your Networks: The 24 hr-rule
Within 24 hours of meeting a new person, send a follow-up email or note, either simply thanking the person or asking for a coffee chat. Procrastination is the friend that we all don’t need but can’t get rid of, so drop that email before it gets to you. A two-liner of “It was great meeting you at the event, would love to grab coffee with you soon.” will go a long way, more than you think. It helps to create a template that you can reuse, saves you a lot of time and reduces inertia.
It is not unheard of for a conversation to lead to an internship opportunity or job offer, so take your chances and start talking. For a start, aim for four coffee chats per semester. Who knows what you would find?
Sadly, only about 30% of the global workers are doing their dream job or are in a career that is related. It’s a small percentage, but it goes to show that it is not impossible. You could be one of them, now that you know what to do. So take your chances and like what Shia LaBeouf said: “Don’t let your dreams be dreams, just do it!”.
See you on the moon. Or Mars.
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