Given so many choices that confront us, there are only a few decisions we consciously put our time into. One of those decisions is when we enter the job market after completing our university education.
While graduating from the Technical University of Lisbon, I remember the choice in front of me and my peers. Our university experience was going to be over soon and we had to choose our career path. Most of my peers were hoping to start their career at the top consultancy firms, or the big banks or the large consumer goods corporations.
They were hopeful not because they were passionate about what these companies were selling, or were dreaming about leading these organizations someday. They wanted to be part of these companies because it was the right brand to start their career with.
So, then I ask, when it comes to choosing our job… who decides?
I graduated over five years ago and over these years I have heard many stories of young people that are stuck in a job that they don’t want, that they clearly do not enjoy, and are unclear about the impact of their actions. Very rarely, I hear stories of people that are doing what they are most passionate about, are very productive and are making money while having fun doing what they love.
We live in different times today. Past paradigms are being constantly challenged, and new business lifestyles are being promoted (startups, freelancers, design thinking, etc.). It is important to be aware of all the options in front of us while choosing what to do next.
Get to know yourself before you start your job. Don’t let the job define you.
It does not matter if you start your own enterprise, or you get into freelance work or are employed by a corporation. What truly matters is that you understand what you are really good at and how the job will help you hone your skills.
Personally I wanted to explore the world and in doing so explore my own wants and needs. I was fortunate to go through this journey with AIESEC, the world’s largest student-run organization. I met people from all over the world, developed my leadership skills and today I have more confidence in my abilities to not only overcome the challenges of today but also experience to deal with what the future has to offer.
Your life is a mix of small, yet remarkable stories. Don’t let your life be about job hunting.
If you know who you are and where you want to reach in life, you will get the job you want sooner or later. What is important is that you understand that your life is not about constantly changing jobs, but it is about building a beautiful mosaic of experiences.
If you consider your life as an experience, then every job you do will be more than just a paycheck. It will give you a great sense of reason and purpose, which will make you wake up every day excited.
Be ahead of the market. Don’t always be a freshman.
School does not give you everything you need to know to succeed. Rarely it gives you even 50% of what you need. But school does give you the space to discover what you want to succeed in, access to the network that will help you getting there and the basics to start your career.
The best way to keep abreast about the main trends of your industry is not by just listening to lectures but it is by connecting with experts you hope to work for or be mentored by, reading newspapers, blogs and magazines that talk about the topic of your interest.
You will spend at least 1095 days as a university student. Make each day count.
We are mistaken about our time in university. When we start then 3 years seem like an eternity and when we finish 3 years seem like too short a breeze. Don’t think about your time in university in terms of years. Instead think of it as 1095 days. And 1095 days is enough time to figure out which market is for you and what you want from your career.
Every day is a chance to start something new, to come up with an exciting business idea, join a different course, participate in a new club, to find new friends and so much more. Make each day count.
“The story that you tell yourself that you are living, often becomes the story you actually live.”
Hugo Pereira is the Head of Marketing for D-Sight, a startup that develops innovative decision-making software. He was also a former President of AIESEC International and is an active blogger, entrepreneur and personal coach. You can connect with Hugo on Twitter, @hugosbpereira.
This article originally appeared on Under30Careers.com