7 Uncommon Pieces of Advice for College
Obviously, WSO is loaded with tons of great career and life advice. There are endless posts on target vs non-target schools, technicals for interviews, GPA, networking, rankings, etc. Rather than beat a dead horse, that got me thinking….what are some less common pieces of college advice for becoming a rounded career professional…
1. Find your hobbies – I hate to admit it, but probably 75 - 80% of my hobbies and interests are things that I was into during my high school and college years. Sure, I picked up a few more as my schedule became easier, but not many. As you get older and have less free time on your hands, it gets more difficult to invest the time to develop new interests.
In college, you should try to figure out the work of your life and what you're doing the rest of the time. If you don't, you'll just become this boring dude who works his job and then gets slammed drunk every weekend for the next decade after college.
2. Sow your wild oats as soon as you can – On that topic, I was an absolute party animal in college to the detriment of my GPA…that definitely was not wise but the upside was that I totally got this out of my system. By 23, I had sown all of my wild oats. There are posts on here that bemoan the loss of partying in your 20s. Furthermore, the common wisdom these days seems to be the pursuit of an elongated childhood from 18 to 35. I don't know….by the end of college, I was done with that, the famous Bible verse sums it up best in my opinion, "When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me." When I graduated college, I was ready to be a man and didn't look back with tears in my eyes.
3. Meet as many diverse people as you can – As you get older and work in finance, your peer group will become narrower and narrower. When you're still in school, you can have friends who are artists, musicians, philosophy students, basically whatever. My chances of becoming best friends with a jazz saxophonist today are slim to none – back then, really not that unlikely. I hung out with all kinds of folks: security guards, waiters, bartenders, tattoo artists, basically everyone across the spectrum of society. I didn't think much of this at the time, but soon you realize that lots of people have the opposite experience. They grow up in an affluent suburb, attend an affluent school, become part of an affluent profession and basically don't know jack shit about the world or the people around them.
4. Develop your spirituality – You're in college and trying to figure out your life. Much like the hobby advice in part 1, this should extend beyond your career pursuits. You're not gonna have much time to read Buddhist texts when you're slammed on two live deals. You got your whole life ahead of you. Find out what it means to live it. Don't wait until you're 65 years old and scared before asking the big questions.
5. Don't ignore love early on – another piece of common wisdom these days seems to be the following life progression: fuck around in college: fuck 30 people on Tinder after that, and then marry some girl at 35 after she has already fucked half the planet…..am I crazy or does something seem really unappealing about this "common wisdom"? I'm not saying get hitched as soon as you can, but be open to the possibility. If you find the right one, you'll make the career balance happen.
6. Exercise and lose weight now – Lots of posts on WSO about staying in shape, but here is the easiest method. Get in great shape in college and then stay in shape. It's almost impossible to lose significant weight in banking, but it's actually not that hard to keep it level. Give yourself a good starting point.
7. Enjoy your classes – When I was in school, I really enjoyed the classes in my major. I'm kind of a dork…..but on others, I was just trying to make the grade. In college, you get so used to the process of essays, exams, and grades that you don't appreciate the unique learning experience. After you enter finance, your deep intellectual conversations will come to an end. You're probably never going to debate world history with a PhD ever again. You can't just step into office hours of an expert in a field because you're curious about a subject. At first, this doesn't really bother you, but after a while, you realize that you haven't had a good intellectual conversation in a freakin decade. Maybe, this is just me, but regular life sadly has a sort of intellectual emptiness to it….
So what's the point of this? Well, ultimately, it's about life satisfaction. What's the point of getting the perfect job if everything else about your life is upside down or just plain empty. If you have good hobbies to occupy your time, have good health and avoid the party lifestyle, have a spiritual direction and intellectual curiosity to your life, and hopefully have someone to love, it's hard not to find yourself much more satisfied in life than the guy two chairs down also clocking the 80-hours per week. You don't have to wait until you're completely burned out and on your mid-life crisis before trying to figure out life. Well, hope this helps and all criticism is welcome as I know some of this may be a bit controversial. Hope you enjoyed the read.