What I Learned from College Tours: 3 Tips for Success
Over the years, I have had conversations with hundreds of people about what I call “hindsight regret”, or how the benefit of their experience changes their perspective on the choices they have made. While I believe that every experience and learning in our life serves a key purpose in our personal development and growth—it only does so if we spend time reflecting on it.
The past can be a powerful learning portal and pathway to our future if we are courageous enough to look at our past actions honestly, without trying to rationalize them or forget them. Whether in business or in life, standing on the mountaintop and looking at our past choices from afar can be a powerful tool in forming lessons learned and guiding our decisions for the future.
I have been struck by this concept recently as I have spent the last two weeks going on college tours with my 17 year-old step-daughter. As I listened to the orientation presentations and common echoes in the tours, I couldn’t help reflect on the simple things that I would have taken advantage of more during those college days. Based on the benefit of my own experience, and the themes I see over and over again in my daily work with leaders, here are three simple tips I wish I had been given then that would have enhanced not only success in college—but also in career and life.
1. Take advantage of the resources available to you
Every single one of the tours described an incredible laundry list of free resources available to students. Resume writing, interview training, paper proofreading, one-on-one tutoring for any subject, shuttle services, office hours with professors, and a variety of professional development workshops were just a few of the many resources students could take advantage of.
How often do you spend the time to benefit from the resources all around you? Do you reach out to other departments in your company who have knowledge or information and ask for their help? Do you waste time re-inventing the wheel instead of finding out who has experience already doing what you are trying to do? Are you leveraging the professional development and learning opportunities made available to you? Or do you squander or ignore the opportunities and let them pass you by?
Resources are always available all around you—it is up to you to take the time to leverage and use them.
2. Connect & network with others
Every university described the plentiful opportunities they had created for students to network with other students and professors in order to enable relationship building and to foster connection. Interest clubs, themed residence halls, networking groups and events, professor’s office hours, and volunteer groups were only a few of the pathways created to provide deliberate opportunities to connect with others.
Do you deliberately seek opportunities to connect with others and build your social network? Do you attend professional and company events with the intention to build relationships with others, or do you sit by yourself and stare at your phone during breaks?
Whether in university life, career life, or the rest of your life—relationships matter. Your social networks are your support systems and enablers for every area of your life. How much time do you spend building, diversifying, and nurturing them?
3. Listen to your heart
The chatter I heard in the tour waiting rooms was all about finding a major, deciding what job to pursue, and what criteria to use to pick a career. In so many leadership workshops and executive coaching sessions over the years, this same searching angst still prevails. When I then ask the obvious question, “What do you want?” most still cannot answer it.
Have you spent time with yourself to find what you love to do? Do you have opportunities to do some of that in your job? Do you know what you want? How will you find out? How can you bring more of what you love and want into your career and life?
The university tour experience was a reminder that whether we are just starting out or are many years into our careers; seeking and leveraging the resources available to us, connecting with others and building relationships, and listening to our hearts are timeless pathways to success.