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What would you do differently if you can re-do your post college career

May 29th, 2013 · No Comments

It’s college graduation time again.

I graduated from college in 1997. I finished all of my required courses in Spring semester 1997 but decided to stay for an extra semester because I wanted to take some classes I really wanted to take. Looking back, I was not ready to leave college at that time. I had job offers but I was terrified of entering the real world. I had always enjoyed academic environment and I lived a sheltered life.

After college, I worked for a management consulting company for one year. I then joined a medium sized enterprise software company for a year. The next stop was to join a hot start-up in the Silicon Valley. That company crashed and burned after on year. I did another start-up before I went back to business school.

Looking back, if I can re-do the first four year of my post-college career, knowing what I know now, I would “plan” my career a little bit differently.

  • I would take more vacations and travel more. I was totally into the “work hard” culture of Silicon Valley. I didn’t take whole lot of vacations.
  • I would work one or two years abroad. Working abroad is an experience I wish I had. With family and kids, it’s harder to move to another country to work. If you’re single, I highly recommend you to get a job abroad for a year or two.
  • I would not work in enterprise software companies. I enjoy working with consumer facing products. Enterprise software industry is industry, but it is not what my calling. I really struggled to stay interested.
  • I would not make the jump to product management – I studies computer science in college but didn’t like to be a programmer. So I made the transition to product management with only one year of work experience – I thought product management provided me the opportunity to leverage my technical skills and business acumen. In reality, product management is a highly political job that is not well suited for my personality. I would be much better off if I became a sales engineer or taken on a marketing/analytic roles in a consumer facing company. It took me 12 years to finally find the right job.
  • I would join a high growth, medium size, publically traded company. Medium size company is my sweet spot – it offers a combination of having some structure but still allows room for innovation and getting things done. I didn’t enjoy working at VC funded starts-ups – there are too much greed and too little value creation in these companies. It was never fulfilling for me to work at these companies.
  • I would move out of Silicon Valley much sooner – I enjoy working and living in culturally rich environment. For example, I love the college towns of Berkeley, CA and Evanston, IL. Santa Clara Country is full of corporate parks and suburban homes. I was not happy living there.
  • I would exercise regularly, play more sports and live a more healthy life style.
  • Knowing what I know now, I probably will choose not to apply MBA schools. Instead, I will enroll in a master program that I truly have a passion for.

If you can re-do your post college career, what would you do?

Tags: Go Back to School · Learning and Growing

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