Technical Difficulties from on Top of the Mountain
2005-05-20
  Advise for new graduates, or heck--anybody.
Curt over at The Occupational Adventure asks for advise for new graduates.
It's getting to be the time of year for graduation. Time for another wave of young people to join the work world and start making decisions about where they want to go in life.

What advice would you give them?

...

I call the first ten years out of college the incubation period. The truth is, regardless of what they think they know, many college age people don't really know what they want (I certainly didn't).

Heck, I've been "working" for more than twenty years now (16 years since college) and I am still discovering things. Just the other day I discovered that analog electronics is cool, despite the fact that before that I thought it was yuckier than spinach (back in college, you couldn't get me to touch EE 14 with a ten foot pole).

So I'd extend Curt's advise like this:

Start out treating the first ten years as R&D, then when that's over, treat the next ten years as R&D, ... Never stop learning or exploring, life just gets boring when you do.
Actually I've always liked to try new things and take risks. It was another lesson that came out of battling in the trenches for the last twenty years that was so surprising:
My biggest lesson learned was that it wasn't about the companies, the products, the jobs or the technology. Its about the people. Pay attention to who you work with: who are the people with the energy, who are there just marking time, and who are the sinkholes. Cultivate relationships, these will make your best future possible.
The last ten years I've lived and worked from Flagstaff (a national mecca of nowhere'sville). This was only possible through the contacts and friends I'd known previous (or made online), as outsourcing your engineering to a small rural mountain location is not the first thing that goes through the mind of the VPE of a silicon valley startup (or of any company for that matter).

Taking your own path like that requires courage certainly, but also a significant support and resources. Linked-In is only going to get you so far, you have to cultivate those live connections and find true friends. That will help tip the balance towards a life well lived vs another depressing statistic.

 
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Blogroll
Paul Graham's Essays
You may not want to write in Lisp, but his advise on software, life and business is always worth listening to.
How to save the world
Dave Pollard working on changing the world .. one partially baked idea at a time.
SnowDeal
Eric Snowdeal IV - born 15 weeks too soon, now living a normal baby life.
Land and Hold Short
The life of a pilot.

The best of?
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The second best villain of all times.

Feb '04
Oops I dropped by satellite.
New Jets create excitement in the air.
The audience is not listening.

Mar '04
Neat chemicals you don't want to mess with.
The Lack of Practise Effect

Apr '04
Scramjets take to the air
Doing dangerous things in the fire.
The Real Way to get a job

May '04
Checking out cool tools (with the kids)
A master geek (Ink Tank flashback)
How to play with your kids

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