I'll let my 22-year old son, who graduated from the University of Southern California last week, answer that profound question.
Christopher James Swanson, you are up.
Closing One Door and Opening Another
The University of Southern California has provided an unbelievable college experience; and I even learned a few things too. While my graduation cap and gown are waiting for me in May, I am saying goodbye to college and sprinting to my professional career with FastPay Partners after the New Year. Through four and a half blessed years, I’ve learned a few things I want to share:
Try surrounding yourself with likeminded individuals who are smarter than you. USC has created an intellectual playground, where one can engage the brightest socialites in the world just by visiting the 90 on a Thursday night. Everyone has something to teach, it only matters whether your interested in the subject.
GPA is just a number. However, I’m not going to sit here and say that grades don’t matter in the real world, because they do. But if you have the opportunity to play golf with a VP, or study for your statistics final, which has the bigger potential to help you land your dream career?
Which leads to my next point: recognize opportunity. Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers, taught us how incredibly important this skill really is. For example, “When we look at the young Bill Gates, [we] marvel that our world allowed a thirteen-year-old to become a fabulously successful entrepreneur. But that’s the wrong lesson. Our world only allowed one thirteen-year-old unlimited access to a time sharing terminal computer in 1968. If a million teenagers had been given the same opportunity, how many more Microsofts would we have today?" But that’s not to take away from his success. He was a very smart kid that seized an opportunity to make himself into a brilliant man. Just like Bill, we are the product of our own efforts combined with a healthy dose of luck.
Recognizing USC as one of these opportunities has boosted my professional savvy more than a multiple choice or essay question ever could. And in that I worked incredibly hard to secure my own future success. Yet I realize that this is only the first step in a road uncharted. But as I sign off here tonight, one quote keeps floating around in my head:
"The ones who get struck by lightning are those running around in thunderstorms."