Notes on … “What I Would do if I was 18 now”, by Levels.io

I read this great post by Levels.io called “What I would do if I was 18 now“. Her makes a number of interesting points that I wanted to add my comments to.

Context

If you look with a fresh mind though, there’s never been more opportunities for young people if they’re smart about it: they have the freedom to build their own jobs from scratch on the internet, they can have clients and customers from anywhere in the world and if they want themselves work from anywhere they want.

I’m an optimist and I could’t agree with the above sentiment more. Yes, unemployment for young people is high in particular areas (e.g. 43% in Spain) but there is also a unique opportunity to self educate and seek new employment opportunities. We live in a time where experience doesn’t have to mean two years worked at a company but can also mean launching your own side projects. If we look at digital skills, new platforms and technologies are emerging so frequently that everyone is a beginner. No one was a ‘paid social specialist’ before 5 years ago. Jump on to these skills early enough and you should be at the front of the queue for the next job wave. New jobs will appear in new markets, so keep on top of market trends to understand how to stay employable.

All of this is to say that whilst some classic jobs may be steady or in decline, for smart people with a considered strategy we live in a time of numerous opportunities. If you build your skills and build your network, you should do fine.

University

I wouldn’t go to university…I also kinda employ people now, I can tell you from both sides too. I’ve never even asked about people’s academic credentials. I don’t care. I ask them if they can do specific tasks and have specific skills that can make my company better and take work off from me.

This was a really interesting point for me. For context, I attended University and completed my undergrad but at 18, I wasn’t 100% on going and in my second year I almost dropped out.

Universities are institutions. They have been around for a long time and carry a huge amount of prestige. But what should they actually deliver for their customers? Build your skills. Build your network. Make you more knowledgeable. Make you more employable. In short, I think you could make a strong case that each of these elements can be done as well through some other, cheaper means. A few simple examples:

Build your network –> Go to meetups (free), find people on LinkedIn and ask to meet them (free)

Build your skills –> Write blogs (practice writing, free), Go to pitch competitions (practice presenting, free), Build technical skills (online courses or youtube, low cost/free) etc.

When you consider that University fees in the UK alone (not including the living costs or opportunity costs) are now £27k, this is a huge investment. We should seriously critique whether it is worth that amount. I’ll do a deeper dive on this in the future and discuss my own experience.

Learn

And continually learn. The world is as dynamic as it ever has been. If you aren’t continually learning and adapting, you’ll be left behind. Take advantage of the new tools to keep your skills and your knowledge up to date and relevant.

Relationships

Learn to love! Have lots of non-serious relationships (with people from all over the world!) until you’re late 20s and then slowly start having serious ones. Don’t lock down with one person, relationships can develop you throughout your whole life and every person has a new lesson to give you, as cheesy as it may sound. Fuck peer pressure to settle down, have your own timing. Get your heart broken and break other hearts (it’s inevitable).

I love this from Levels. Like all things in life, getting good at relationships (for most people) takes practice. We need to practice to deal with our insecurities and not put them onto others. Each of us need to practice patience. We need to practice making people laugh. We should understand how to support others when they are feeling low. And so on.

We are all capable of being a good friend and partner but no one is born being the best friend, girlfriend or boyfriend ever. We should work on these emotional skills in exactly the same way we work on other skills: practice.

Build an Income Machine & Live Cheaply

Happiness comes from intangibles, like experiences, relationships, activities, not stuff.

If we can remove the need to work, then as a result we free up our time to do whatever we want. For many people, this may seem idealist or unrealistic. I can empathise with that. But again, I’m an optimist and I think why not at least try (that is what my new project, Learn by Doing is all about).

Final Comments

I can see how some people might view the above thoughts as idealistic. People may question the ability to build an income machine or succeed without formal university. The truth is, there are people who do this all the time. It may not be the most common path, but it certainly isn’t impossible. I admire the bravery of people like Levels who are setting their own agenda and optimising for their own goals, rather than others.

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This was originally published on my personal site, stevanpopovic.com.

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