Mark Twain once said, "Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great." This sentiment that Mr. Twain held remains true to this day, but can be very difficult to uphold.
For college students thinking about life after graduation, it is very easy to fall into the trap of settling for the safety net of the first job offer they receive after school. This is not to say that the first job offer that a student receives through their career development process is not of their highest ambitions. However, with the conditioning that a typical college student faces from his parents, friends, professors, and the media, it is easy to understand how students can find themselves afraid to pursue their true dreams.
1. The conditioning is bullshit
Conditioning in this sense is the feeling that one must take an action because an external stimulus is influencing that behavior. Some examples of this include pursuing a career only because it relates to your major, not pursuing a career because you didn't have a high GPA, not considering a company because it doesn't come to your university to recruit, or not pursuing a company because you don't feel like you are good enough or have the appropriate credentials.
I was running an Ambition In Motion workshop where we recommend companies to students that align with their strengths, interests, and work environment desires. When one of the students was informing the group of his recommended companies he said:
"All of my recommended companies are amazing but I don't think they are realistic for me."
I followed up to him by asking, "Why not?"
He then proceeded to list off all of the conditioning he has received throughout his collegiate years. He didn't have a high enough GPA. The company didn't recruit at Indiana University. He didn't have any connections to anyone at the company.
In response I told him, "Dream big! You are just as human as every other college student that is about to graduate. You don't have to lower your aspirations because of what other people around you have told you. Your dreams are just as valid as anyone else's. Through Ambition In Motion, you will learn how to build relationships with professionals at your recommended companies. Who knows what will occur from there, but if you don't put yourself out there, you will relegate yourself to settling for whatever job offer comes to you."
2. Your dreams and goals are valid
When it comes to deciding your career, don't be afraid to think big! Almost every college student has a similar amount of career experience, give or take an internship or two. That is to say, not that much.
Sure, some universities have more companies recruiting at their career fairs and career development offices. This doesn't guarantee students at those universities jobs at those companies. It also doesn't mean students outside of those universities are precluded from those jobs. It just means that students, regardless of their universities, are on an even playing field when it comes to pursuing their dream jobs. Everyone is capable of getting their dream job if they put themselves out there and build relationships with people at their desired companies.
3. Careers are not predetermined
If your career was predetermined by your degree, university, GPA, or other conditioning factors, why would we even apply to jobs? To put it another way (and to keep with the season of March Madness), if the NCAA Men's College Basketball Tournament had a predetermined winner, why would we fill out brackets?
Mr. Twain's belief about not surrounding yourself with people that belittle your dreams and goals is very important advice that every college student should keep in mind. College students should surround themselves with people that support their goals and ambitions.
Limiting beliefs are only limiting if you believe them. Dream big and pursue the career and life that you would be jealous of.
Garrett Mintz is the founder of Ambition In Motion (AIM). AIM is a program for college students who want to reach beyond typical expectations and pursue fulfilling careers. He helps college students understand what they actually want in their careers, learn pertinent information about what fulfills them, and helps demonstrate how to get their "foot in the door" at companies that interest them. Garrett's goal is to help young professionals build a realistic and thorough perspective of their potential occupations BEFORE accepting a job as opposed to after.