My brother just graduated high school this weekend (YAY!!!) While he looks forward to his future, it seems only natural for me to look back on myself and my meandering path to instructional designer. Who knows, maybe I’m supposed to be here. But I can’t help thinking about all of the things I wish I’d known before college and while there. So, in the off chance that I ever get access to a time machine, here are some pieces of advice to myself upon graduating high school:
If You Want to be a Writer, Write
Let go of that idea that inspiration has to strike. It’ s myth. Becoming a writer is slogging through the crap (and there will be much crap) and continuing to write everyday. Yes, everyday. Whether you feel like it or not. Whether you feel inspired or not. Write. Finish things.
You always liked bodybuilders, even though everyone else thought they were gross. You’re a girl, and no one introduced you to the bar, but you can lift serious weights. Start with something like Starting Strength and lift three days a week. Walk the other three days a week. That’s all you need. If you feel serious about it, maybe get a coach and enter into powerlifitng competitions. You’ll be so glad you did.
Cut Your Hair
Seriously, cut it. Super short. It will set you free.
Create a Professional Uniform
You hate clothes. You’ll always hate clothes. Just wear the same thing everyday. Pants, a t-shirt and a blazer.
Don’t go to Go to Grad School
It’s super expensive and you don’t need it.
Intern, Volunteer, and Create SideProjects to Build Your Experience
The only reason you went to grad school was to try and make yourself more employable. It didn’t really work. Take the time every summer to find someplace to intern or volunteer. Feel free to try different places, if you like, but build some experience and contacts doing something you’re good at. If all else fails, get involved in AmeriCorps VISTA during the summer to get some great paid experience and money towards your student loans. Also, take some time to create sideprojects for yourself and practice your skills, especially webdesign. Don’t let it go to waste or sit unused. Take the initiative.
Consider a Double Major or Minor in Computer Science
It won’t be a magic bullet. Some compsci majors report not having written more than a few lines of code. But it could make you more employable, especially if you follow the above advice and take the intiative to learn more and practice on your own. Buy some books on html and css and get in the business early.
Learn to Speak Up and Negotiate
In everything from your martial arts classes (where you’ve consistently been unable to find something that speaks to you) to your first salary, learn to negotiate and find what you want. You don’t have to settle.
Get to a City and Stay There
There’s some interesting lessons to be learned travelling to the various small towns in Texas. And one of the things you learn is that you really need to be near a city with diversity. It also seems to be much harder to get back to a city once you leave it. And that stinks.