Put down the beer bong, and read this blog post.

Welcome to day three of “A dozen things I wish someone had told me.” Today’s topic is, appropriately, about being in school. (Of course, as always, this applies to those of us who graduated long, long ago.)

1) Your taste will change. Several times. Enjoy that evolution and stay open-minded. (And don’t get stuck in a rut.) Look back upon these changes with appreciation and humbleness of knowing that one day, you’ll look back upon your opinions today with quaint affection.

2) Don’t get preoccupied with what you think others want you to do with your work. At least, not in school. Obsessing about what others want only takes your attention from meaningful progress. There will be plenty of time to worry about the opinion of others (client, boss, partner, focus groups, etc. etc. etc.) down the road.

3) It takes a while to find your voice and get into a groove. It’s a frustrating process until that happens. It requires work and time.

4)  You will learn more in your first couple of jobs than you did in school.

5) Trying to recreate yourself in only a few months of school is like trying to go to med school in one year. It take a long time to learn, attempt, and produce. If you shortchange the process you shortchange the result.

6) Classmates are, literally and figuratively, your future co-workers. Treat them accordingly.

7) If you want to change your focus or style during school, do it.

8) Actually in reference to #7, the same can be said of ANY time in your career. It’s okay to change. It’s crucial, in fact. I’ve changed my career direction half a dozen times.

9) Every step along the way is cumulative learning, and every step builds upon the last.

8) Be certain that your resume (or final portfolio) accurately represents the type of work you want to do, because it will determine where you’re hired.

10) Being in school is a window of opportunity to recreate yourself. Use it wisely. Use every possible resource, conversation, teacher. Fail within this safety net.

11) Surpass your school’s expectations. Surpass your parents’ expectations. Surpass your own.

12) In the future, when youre the boss, meet with ten students for every one person who meets with you now.

…Okay, so, what about you? What do you wish someone had told you while you were in school? 

Oh, and for those of you who didn’t learn what a “beer bong” is in college… now’s your chance.

8 Responses to “Put down the beer bong, and read this blog post.”

  1. David Esrati Says:

    Sally, number 11- could also be written as surpass your schools requirements-do more than what is expected. Just like you with your 800 headlines- I highly recommend reading books related to your field that aren’t required by your teachers.
    Even though it was mentioned and excerpted in our business school management book- “In search of excellence” wasn’t required reading- yet everyone in the field was reading it. It was an eye opener for me as a student.
    In today’s hyper-competitive world, a degree alone isn’t enough, you have to bring more to the table if you want to eat.

  2. Sally Hogshead Says:

    Great thought, David: “In today’s hyper-competitive world, a degree alone isn’t enough, you have to bring more to the table if you want to eat.”

  3. Jeffrey Harrington Says:

    Thank you, but I can read and use my beer bong at the same time. Forwarding this to a young designer now.

  4. Erin Says:

    On No. 7 – (changing style). Take that literally. One of my regrets in college is that I never experimented with my hair. I totally wanted to die my hair blue. I completely chickened out. Never did it.
    Now that I’m in a professional work environment – there is no way I’ll ever be able to go that drastic. Some do, but not in my world.
    For me, it’s only on Halloween…
    My advice – take that literally and play with style while you can. Find out who you are. Explore.

  5. Sam Harrison Says:

    Great advice, Sally!

    I would add:

    - Learn how to collaborate with your classmates. You’ll be collaborating with team members for the rest of your career. Start the process.

    - Speaking of process, pay attention to your creative process and read about the creative processes of other designers, writers, artists, architects, film makers, whatever. Ideas don’t just happen — or at least not often enough, especially when deadlines are involved. If you develop your creative process, you’ll be focused on the probability of having an idea rather than the possibility.

    - Spend less time forming opinions and more time listening to the thought of others. We never learn anything while we’re talking.

    - Take risks! Don’t be careless, but learn to not be careful.

    - Have fun. Put the bong down and have real fun with real people.

  6. Qrystal Says:

    I wish someone had emphasized the idea that my learning is up to me, and my results in classes were not the same as learning. More focus was needed on expanding what I understand, and less focus on what I need to do to get good grades. More emphasis on purpose, less on process.

  7. Qrystal Says:

    P.S. Your noisy header scared the daylights out of me! It made me want to leave without reading the article. I’m glad I stuck around, but I urge you to reconsider having a sound effect at all.

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    [...] Put down the beer bong, and read this blog post. [...]

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