www.asktheheadhunter.com | March 27, 2007
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Homework in the real world

I have a year to go until I graduate from college. I'm not the best student, but I do pretty well. I'm here to learn -- no doubt about that -- but there is a lot more to college and I take advantage of it. But now I'm a little worried. My grades could be better. I could spend a little less time at the pub, and more on academics. However, homework seems like a redundancy to me. I learn what I learn in lectures, in section classes and in assigned readings. Don't misunderstand, I crank out the papers and I get ready for tests. But doing homework? It has nothing to do with preparing you for the real world. Even people who work long hours leave the office behind at the end of the day. I know my school has a good career center, and companies recruit there all the time. The purpose of the center is to attract good companies and jobs. My "job" is to interview well and get hired.

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-- Nick    

I don't think I'm that different from most students. I just want a good job when I get out of here. But something is nagging at me, and I'm worried as graduation gets nearer. I'm afraid I'll get lost in the system or the system won't work for me. I'm afraid I won't get a good job. There, I said it. So what should I do?

Nick's Reply
If you've worked hard in school, you're good at doing homework. If you're not good at it, I can't help you. Life and work require lots of homework. That's what you were supposed to be learning -- how to do it.

If you were out partying, those boring friends of yours who were cracking the books while you were at the pub are now several steps ahead of you. If you're going to read further, stop right now and hand-write this on a piece of paper 20 times:

"Finding and winning a good job is my own challenge. No one will do it for me. I will do all the hard work myself without excuses or I will fail."

Sign it. Tack it to the wall in front of your desk. The first time you get lazy and make an excuse, stop doing what I'm teaching you and go surf the Net for a job. Lotsa luck to you and to the person who hires you.

Finding good work requires homework. Getting a good manager's attention requires homework. Preparing something useful to say to the manager requires homework. Figuring out whether the job is for you requires homework. Deciding whether to accept an offer requires homework. Showing up Day #1 requires homework. Doing the job well requires homework. Getting better at it requires homework. Keeping your job requires homework. Being successful requires becoming a master at your work. That requires constant homework.

In fact, your ability to do homework well -- to study, learn, and make choices -- is the one thing a company is really paying for when it hires you when you get out of school.

If you wait for a career center or a company recruiter to do the homework for you, you're right -- you'll get lost in the system. So spend this year honing your homework skills. Start applying them to the job search that you ought to start today. Yes, it will take that long if you do it right.

How much fun you make it is up to you.

This article will help, no matter what your major is: Making The Liberal Arts Degree Pay Off. Don't just apply the ideas to a job; apply them to searching for one, too.

Nick Corcodilos
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Readers' Comments
That was a great newsletter on How can my dad get back into management? (3/6/07). I'm pushing 50 years old myself, and the other article you linked to (Too Old to Rock & Roll?) is very helpful for me in my current transition, too. Your words of wisdom are so helpful to many people in many ways. Thanks for all that you do.

Steve Harvey

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