WTTM1Welcome to the Majors is one of my favorite days in the College.  Where else, in what other college, of ANY KIND, do you have to attend class in person when there’s over 1700 students in the class?!  We bill it as the “largest face to face class at UCF.” I’d argue it’s also one of the BEST!!

The Dean’s External Relations team spends months working on the logistics of this event.  They go get sponsors to help us rent a space big enough to hold all the students.  They register and coordinate around 50 student orgs, campus support departments, and other partners to come to campus and meet my students.  They get faculty from every academic department to attend (LOVED seeing the Integrated Business team holding court!)  And they always bring in a guest speaker who will share their ideas on how to make yourself a unique brand.

This semester Robert Stephens, founder of the Geek Squad, came to speak.  He was, in a word, AWESOME!  Ok, he was FREAKING AWESOME, but that’s two words.  He was kind, smart, and approachable.  And his presentation seemed to flow as an extension of Dean Jarley’s pitch for our students to “get to the One.”  But the thing that really struck me was one line when he was talking about starting his business.  He said, “I wasn’t a business student, I didn’t know how to start a business, and I didn’t know what to do next.  SO I JUST DID SOMETHING.”

The most frequent criticism I get about the Career Professionalism classes is that they are unorganized.  My rebuttal is that, they are not unorganized because it isn’t up to me to organize them for you!  Seems like a cop-out, but follow me for a moment…

At no time in your career will someone hand you a syllabus that really tells you what to do next.  You might get a procedure, or get some training.  But when stuff gets real, you’re going to have to jump in and just do something.  Many times just doing something is the right thing to do.  Sometimes what you do isn’t exactly right, but if you hit at least some of it you can usually learn to adjust.  As you do that over and over you’ll learn to hone that thing to become your thing.

Over the long term, that thing that became your thing, will become THE thing.  The thing that is you.  The thing that is your career.  The thing that is your brand.  The thing that people reference when they talk about you.  Oh yea, we need to hire her, she does that thing.  And we need her to do it here!

Unfortunately, traditional education has turned you into risk-averse bookshelf monkeys.  You’re afraid to try anything without all the answers and a roadmap laid out because you fear failure.  What I need you to know is that waiting for someone to tell you the answer sucks worse than failure.  At work, I’d support an employee who at least tried every time over the person who just sat there with their thumb stuck up their rear waiting for me to tell them what to do next.

So what can you do to know what to do next:

  1. Know the overall goal, and the short-term priorities – For example, the goal of GEB 3003 is to identify what you want to DO as a career.  To do that you need to understand yourself, make a decision on what you want to do, and research that decision so you can support it with objective info rather than that crap you tell your parents.
  2. Read AND COMPREHEND the information you’ve been given – You have a syllabus with class policies and a schedule; a project document with the schedule again as well as all the resources, activities, and tests; a list of suggested Activities and guidelines on verification.  Put your phone down, turn off messenger and actually read what you have on hand.  Oh, and I forgot to mention…AND YOU HAVE EACH OTHER!!  Instead of sitting in a circle pissing and moaning, talk to your classmates.  But don’t just be that guy that screeches he doesn’t know what to do.  Show some initiative.  NETWORK (remember, it’s all about needs).  And have something to offer in return.  People are willing to help those who will help themselves.
  3. Reflect on the info and ask yourself what you need to do to achieve the goal and priorities – Now that you know what the end goal is and what you have on hand to do it, map out a plan for accomplishing this goal.  If networking with people will help you figure out that a financial advisor spends about 10% of their time in finance and the other 90% communicating and selling then go network.
  4. ACT – And this is where you wait….  If the grass needs to be cut, cut it.  Don’t wait for me to tell you to cut it.  Cutting the grass isn’t my job, it’s yours.  Stop waiting to be told what to do and just do it.  So you need to network.  Don’t know anyone yet?  Go to the Exchange and meet people.  Join a club or professional organization AND MEET PEOPLE.  Look around where you work AND MEET PEOPLE.  Get off your ass AND GO MEET PEOPLE!  As a kid, my family moved about half a dozen times before I hit high school.  Did mom set up play dates and hold my hand?  No, she told me to get out of the house and go make friends.  I can make you go to the room folks, but you’ll have to open up and talk to people if you want this to work.

Folks, it really is that simple…