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Old 03-22-2016, 08:30 PM   #1
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Default 6 things I did in school that helped me at work

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Anyone who has worked before would know that doing well in tests does not equate to excelling at work. Exam success does not translate to workplace effectiveness, mostly because one is not assessed at work based on how well he/she does on a test. What did help me was the following:

1. Participating in class. I was really bad at it when I first started college. I wanted to be perfect. Which made me hesitant to speak up unless I thought what I had to say was gold. But without practise, I was never going to be good, which made me even more afraid to speak up. There was no magic moment when something dawned on me and changed the way I spoke up in class. It was a gradual, uncomfortable struggle where I tried to say one thing every lesson, and I got better slowly. One important approach I learnt was to say what I feel with the aim of contributing to the discussion. I realised that if I was confused by something, I am probably not alone. Hence when I ask a question, I am helping someone as well. By assuming I was giving value, I had confidence and authenticity when I spoke up.

2. Explaining things to myself and others. Growing up in a traditional asian family, I am not naturally outspoken because I’ve never practised it at home. However, when I was researching on how to do in exams, one tip from Scott H Young that stood out for me was to explain the concept to myself to make sure I understood it. I loved this idea and did it repeatedly as I realised how useful that was. When I started work, I realised the importance of explaining things well to my colleagues and bosses because it made me seem way smarter than I really was.

3. Going for multiple internships was an unforgettable window for me into the working world. I did 4 internships; all of them were mostly negative experiences, i.e. I learnt what I did not want to do. But I picked up valuable skills like Excel VBA which were useful in my future jobs.

4. Working effectively in a team project. If I could change one thing about my college life, it would be to focus more on projects. Not for grades, but for the opportunity to work with people and improve my teamwork skills in a controlled environment. I think playing in a team sport would help as well.

5. The ability to stick at a problem. I remember cracking my head over tax rules and the logic behind them, and thinking to myself: “I’m never going to #$#%ing use this unless I become a tax consultant”. What I didn’t know then was that the brain cracking was a really good exercise to build up my logic, and increase my persistence/willpower in the face of obstacles. This helped me when I was working on tough valuation problems at work. Without struggle, there is no glory to be had.

6. Starting and failing at something. My girlfriend had this idea to start a blogshop together, at the same time every girl who has ever gone to Bangkok did. Unsurprisingly, we failed terribly and it hurt our relationship as well. But I think putting ourselves out there in the market, trying new things and learning how to work with my to-be spouse is something that no school project can simulate. I realised what my strengths were and what I sucked at and this helped me when I was thinking of what to do with my life.

Although it is important for us to do well in exams, school is really a dress rehearsal for the real world, and we should make full use of the opportunities that are available in school right now. Hope you or your child can benefit from this.

Please leave a comment to tell me what you feel about this!

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