I was sitting three rows behind the visiting team's bench, at about the free-throw line—in a gym far too small for the chaotic standing room only crowd. Then, with one second remaining, my big brother stepped to the free-throw line.
Offering to work for free can be a tremendous advantage getting your foot in the door (especially if you don’t have experience). And if you’re already going to put the time and effort in to get hired, wouldn’t you rather it be spent doing something valuable—something you will actually enjoy?
How do you approach your career when you’re not sure what you want? Here’s a secret: there’s no silver bullet for this stuff. You’re not going to find the answer hanging out online. You have to go out into the world for yourself and try stuff. That’s the key.
Early on in your career, think of it as a discovery process more than a specific track. Focus on the things that interest you—give yourself permission to experiment with different types of work or companies.
I played Tetris for hours as a kid. Something about the colors. The shapes. The way the little blocks moved slowly, then faster, down the screen. The feeling of urgency to put the blocks in the perfect slot.
I find that I learn best when there is a real-world project to tackle, rather than making up fake projects that have no real-world limitations (and, of course, when there is money on the line). I have basically said “yes” to nearly every project that has come my way and have truly learned the entire business and skills of design through the projects that have come my way.
Are you someone who loves solving complex problems; making systems run more smoothly; or are just a very organized, detail-oriented person? If so, operations might be a great place to launch your career.
It’s easy to become a pessimist in the Information Age. Being an optimist is harder – it takes concentrated discipline. What’s harder still, I think, is not only recognizing the things unique to our time worth being optimistic about, but also learning to leverage those opportunities to create the life you want.
When a friend calls you about something going on their life, are you the drop-everything-to-help kind of person? Do you get emotionally invested in other people's success? Or do you get a rush from crossing items off a to-do list?