5 Important Lessons I Learned After Graduating from College

It has been 980 days (from the time of this writing) since I left college. So many things happened. They say you cannot learn everything from school. Experience is the best teacher as others might have said. Turns out it’s really true. In this journey so far, here are the five lessons I have learned that I think is worth sharing.

1. Swim On Your Own

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Learn how to swim on your own. Don’t always rely on your current or future employer to provide you with training. Yes, they may. But if they don’t, you’re going to be in a plateau. You don’t want to blame them for your stagnated professional growth.

Learning on your own may seem daunting and boring. It is, at first. You’re going to be frustrated. But don’t give up. Persevere. One of the key is to find what you love doing.

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”
— Steve Jobs

2. Read. A Lot.

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Allocate time for reading everyday. 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour, 4 hours — it’s up to you. Read something that can help your future self. From technical books, biographies, self-help — read.

Take advantage of technology. Use eBooks application like Kindle. Bring your entire library in your pocket. Waiting for the dentist? Read. Stranded on a commute? Read. Long lines at the terminal? Read. Just find some time. Make it a habit. It’s a good one.

3. Be Independent

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Try to. Or at least become semi-independent (if there’s such a word). After (or prior to) graduation is a big opportunity for you to train yourself living outside your parents’ nest.

Spend each day worrying about what to cook for dinner, perhaps for breakfast. Worry about your bills. Rent, water, electricity, internet — you name it. Budget your expenses and savings. It is in some way liberating.

4. Swim in a Small Pond

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Be a big fish in a small pond. I don’t mean be the smartest guy in the room. Rather, put your self in a situation where your contributions can greatly impact the business you are working for. It is rewarding. Don’t be an easy to replace cog in a giant machine.

If there comes the time where the pond becomes really small for you to fit in, then it’s a sign to find another one where you can fit nicely. Perhaps that’s the time to own a pond. Who knows.

“When you’re not a cog in a machine, an easily replaceable commodity, you’ll get paid what you’re worth. Which is more.”
— Seth Godin

5. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone!

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Relaxed responsibility, awesome salary, great office. Cozy isn’t it? But not great work. Getting too comfortable in what you’re doing is a sign of stagnation. You’re stalled. And that is a bad sign. It’s time to challenge yourself.

“The only way you improve is to get out of your comfort zone and try new things.”
— John Maxwell

Try to become a beginner again at something. Don’t be afraid to fail. Be curious. Get the shit out of your comfort zone and explore!

“To achieve your dreams, you must embrace adversity and make failure a regular part of your life. If you’re not failing, you’re probably not really moving forward.”
— John Maxwell