Tips for Students
In today's episode, I talk to those of you who are students starting school this semester.
One more thing...
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Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
Hey everyone, I'm up and you Developer Tea. My name is Jonathan Cutrell and in today's episode I have some advice for students who are returning to school this semester. Fall is just around the corner for at least half of the world and spring for the other half and that means school is getting back in session. Man, if you've been listening to this podcast for a very long at all, then you know that learning is a priority and it should be a priority for everyone who is a developer or really anyone looking to increase their earning abilities to get better in their career to level up in general. And that's what spec is about, that's what Developer Tea is about. I want to help you get better at what you do. That's my goal here. Going to school was one of my favorite parts of my life and not because I loved reading books. I actually really enjoyed learning. I really enjoyed particularly self-directed learning and today's episode is mostly for people who are in later years of high school but also those who are studying in programs post high school. So in some form of college, whether you're in your undergrad degree, your graduate degrees, wherever you are in your education process, I want to talk to you today about how you can make the most of your education, how you can make the most of going to school. I'm going to give you a few pieces of advice as students that may totally change the way you look at your experience in school. The typical cultural message about school is relatively negative. We don't like final exams, we don't like having to go to class, we don't like having to work on projects with other students that we don't really enjoy being around. The general feeling toward school has become incredibly negative and yet school, once you look back on it, can be some of the most opportunity rich time in your entire life and I don't want you to squander that time if you are indeed a student. Now we've talked about whether or not it even makes sense to go to school. If there are developers or aspiring developers, you're getting out of high school or maybe you're a senior in high school and you're trying to decide if and where you want to go to college, then go back and listen to some of those discussions. It was one of the very first couple of episodes of Developer Tea. I talked with a couple of designers that I work with day in and day out at Whiteboard about the value of education, the value of secondary education, college, those kinds of things. That's not what today's discussion is about. Today is for those students who have decided that school would be valuable for them. So I'm going to give you three pieces of advice today and we're going to jump straight in to number one. Your GPA isn't nearly as important as finishing school and making relationships. Your GPA isn't nearly as important as finishing school and making relationships. This is a bit of a controversial stance that we're taking here that your GPA isn't nearly as important as some other things that are going on with school. As a student, I wanted my GPA to be as close to perfect as possible. I thought that was going to open up tons of doors for me in the future. I thought that I was going to gain respect of future employers, gain respect of my peers. The reality is I have basically forgotten what my GPA was in school. This isn't true for every company but most companies, most companies don't care at all about your GPA. And your friends generally are not going to care about your GPA. Your coworkers are not going to care about your GPA. It turns out that the person who cares the most about your GPA is probably going to be you. Now let me clarify. I do believe that you should try to do well in your classes. Try to do well in your classes. If you have a 2.0 GPA then you are not doing well in your classes and you're quite simply not learning as much as you could be. A lot of students end up not finishing school at all because the stress of the grades ends up being too much for them. In other words, they drop out because they can't continue working as hard as they are working to maintain a 3.8 or a 4.0 for that matter. For those of you who are on a different grading scale, a 4.0 is basically perfect. You don't need a perfect GPA. In my hiring process, for example, I've never once asked for a GPA and I gloss over them when I look at resumes. This kind of information is really only tangential to the real questions that I have as an employer. So instead of focusing on getting a perfect score every single test, instead of locking yourself away in your room and slaving away until you know everything perfectly, focus on making the most of your time in school in multiple areas. This means cultivating lasting relationships with your teachers, with your peers, other students, and potential future employers. If I could go back and talk to the younger version of me, I would have told myself to make connections with more people earlier and start side projects earlier. Here's the takeaway here. The economical value to return on your investment in trying to pump that GPA up unless you are actually getting some sort of scholarship from it is generally not worth the investment. Now, that's totally a different story if you are indeed on a scholarship that requires your GPA to be a certain level. That's a totally different discussion that we won't get into today. Maybe this is your first time hearing this specific discussion on GPA that in the future your GPA becomes less and less important. So worry less about your GPA today and start wearing a little bit more about the relationships that you won't be able to cultivate in the future. You have to cultivate them now as a student. So number one, your GPA isn't nearly as important as finishing school and making relationships. Number two, take advantage of the opportunity to learn. Now this may seem really obvious. Take advantage of the opportunity to learn. Of course, you're going to do that in school. Right now, your actual job, what your occupation should be, is learning. If you pour 100% of your efforts into learning new things, cultivating expertise and building strong relationships, you're going to reap benefits for years to come. Now what exactly do I mean by your job being learning? Well, your job, as we said previously, your job is not to increase your GPA. Your job is not to impress your friends. Your job is not to impress your teachers. Your job is to learn. And here's the reality. It's easy as a student to only finish the minimum necessary and still get straight A's in school. It's a little bit of the broken part of the system. And as engineers, it's not really all that difficult to figure out that system, to actually nail a 4.0 GPA and come out on the other side having learned very little. I want to challenge you to take advantage of the opportunity and when the opportunity comes to do a side project or self-directed work, don't limit yourself to the minimum necessary. You may not have as much of an opportunity to work on this kind of stuff later on in your career. You may not have the opportunity to pour all of your energy into a side project once you're out of school and in the workforce. So here's the deal. Take advantage of the opportunity to learn. This is not just a cliche. What I want you to do is actually ask yourself, what was the last time you learned something new? What was the last time you actually got better at something? What was the last time you walked out of a classroom, you walked away from a project, being a better person and being a smarter person? If you aren't taking the advantage of the opportunity to learn today, then you certainly aren't going to take advantage of that opportunity on the job and leveling up for you is going to be very difficult. So tip number two that you already know internally, take advantage of your incredible opportunity to learn as a student. In number three, start looking for new internship opportunities now immediately today. Start looking for new internship opportunities today. An internship is perhaps the most underappreciated opportunity to learn and get your foot in the door in any industry, but is especially important in development. Don't close yourself off to one language or one specific company. Go and look at every available opportunity. Be open to learning and expanding your options through these internships. Once again, focus on relationships more than you focus on numbers or the particulars of the job or the job description. If you know someone that works at a particular company that you want to learn from, it doesn't matter what you do at that company to start building a relationship with that person, go and try to find an internship at that company. That will get you next to that person and you can start learning from them in whatever ways that basically present themselves. If you can get an internship even in the earlier years of your schooling, so let's say you're a freshman in college, you can go and get an internship. Now you may immediately think, well, my school doesn't really support it or it's not a part of the system until I'm a junior. That doesn't really matter. You can go and get an internship that isn't supported by your school and you get pretty much all of the same benefits except that maybe you still have to take classes. So a part time internship may be a good answer for you. Start looking for internships in the earlier years of your schooling. Continue having them. Have multiple internships. You will be better off for working in the industry before you actually have to go full force into the workforce. The connections and experience you gain is absolutely invaluable and ultimately internships are extremely low risk and are a huge opportunity for growth. In tons of people end up entering the industry first from an internship and then secondarily from some relationship that they made while they were in their internship. If you can't tell, I'm a huge fan of internships. So if you are a manager at a company, I highly recommend that you start offering internships at your company regularly. As long as you have the resources to support this kind of thing, the learning culture at your company is going to be richer if you have interns. The learning culture is going to be richer if you have interns because the point of an internship is the learning and teaching process. It's to build relationships and it's to learn. So start offering internships if it's a possibility you will see that spilling over into the other portions of your business as a positive thing. It's going to bring learning back to the forefront of your culture. So students, I hope that this semester for those of you who are going to school, I hope this semester is the best one yet for you. Once again, the three tips that I have number one, your GPA isn't nearly as important as finishing school and making relationships. So shift some of that energy towards those two things. Number two, take advantage of the opportunity to learn. I don't mean try to make straight A's. I mean, actually ask yourself, are you learning? And if you're not, fix that problem. Number three, start looking for new internship opportunities immediately. And for those of you who can provide internships, you have the resources to provide internships. I highly recommend it. It brings the culture of learning to the forefront. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode of Developer Tea. If you don't want to miss out on future episodes, make sure you subscribe. And if this episode seems relevant to someone that you know, if you know someone who would appreciate today's episode, I'm going to ask that you actually send them this episode. You sharing it with them is much more effective than me trying to tweet about it or hoping that they somehow accidentally find it on iTunes. You sharing it with them is how this show spreads to people who really need it. So I hope that you will share this episode with a student that you know, for example. Thank you so much for listening. And until next time, enjoy your tea.