Thumb boris Boris Rauš Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A short time ago I was invited to give a quick speech on "How to keep young people in Osijek". The event was organized by Youth committee of Osijek in hope to stop the emigration of many young Croats that has occurred in the past few years. The point of the open discussion was to present the measures that are provided by the city, county, and government and to provide success stories by homegrown companies like Bamboo Lab.

It was a real honor to be invited to an event that was organized at my alma mater The Faculty of Electrical Engineering Osijek. At first, I thought to talk about how Bamboo Lab was founded and how we dealt with obstacles in our business. But after some time, I figured how students shouldn't be listening how we were founded (we can always go back to that one) so I came up with a different approach (in my opinion more beneficial to the audience and discussion). The goal was to show the audience how my personal ways and things I've done helped me become better self and how they can become better job candidates in their future job search.

The main focus of this blog is to give, at least from my personal experience, five tips that would help you be a better job candidate, and probably a better member of your family and community. This five helped me with getting my first job and also with starting Bamboo Lab together with my partners.

Level Up - Be a Super You (or Mario whatever ticks you)

First things first. Let’s just make this clear - your college degree doesn’t make you special. That is the hard truth to accept for many college degree bearers around the world. Yes, you have a degree for which you worked hard (at least let’s assume that is how you obtained it) and yes that proves that you spent few years and mastered a program that somebody designed. But take a look around. How many of you have a college diploma in their pockets?

Back in the day (few decades ago), a group of people who had a chance to get a higher education was much smaller, and not everybody had the privilege to go to a college. Times have changed, and statistically speaking - they are not changing in your favor.

Many countries that were underdeveloped have begun to understand the importance of education. Education and knowledge sources are blooming all over the world. That fact brings us to the point that much more young people have a college diploma. You have it, your neighbor has it, his cousin Lilly also has it, and a few thousand people with the same diploma want the same job. It is time for you to level up. Find that mushroom and be a bigger Mario.

Don’t get me wrong, don’t leave your college or decide not to go in one (or do, if that is on your life path), but just consider it. You are on your path to get a diploma, and that's awesome. But you are not learning and partying 24/7. In your spare time and space squeeze in some extracurricular activities. It can be something related to your college - college radio, newspapers, councils, football or something completely opposite - a student job in an up and coming startup, volunteering with the ones in need, writing poetry. Anything that develops you more, that makes you better than you were yesterday.

 

better, better than yesterday

Mingle around in the unexpected waters

On their first day of college, people usually tend to socialize with the group they already know - from your high school, from your local city or from the church choir. That is a great start to help you acclimatize to the totally different lifestyle you will get exposed to during your college years.

You want to get different opinions and different views of the world. That will open your mind and give you possibilities and ideas you never thought of in the first place. To do that, you need to meet new people, people that are quite different from you. If somebody has a totally different point of view, they probably have a different set of skills and different knowledge base. Hook to those differences and learn something new.

I understand that networking is hard for people who have trouble with social activities or prefer to be alone or with people they are accustomed to. But go around on social gatherings and just mingle around. If you are not keen on making the first step, do not worry, there are people who are and they also attend the same kind of gatherings. These situations may have unexpected outcomes, but hey it's a healthy risk to meet new people. You can get a new idea, learn something cool or maybe find the love of your life. :)

Be at the right place at the right time

This sounds highly prophetic. “Great things wait for you if you are at noon in the old warehouse!” - said in an eerie voice. But consider it, if something is bound to happen - it won't be in your apartment or garage (if you are not Bill or Mark at least).

To be at the right place at the right time you need to use what is given to you. Regardless where you live - almost everywhere - in your vicinity there is an open discussion, a meetup, a conference, an informal gathering, a formal gathering, a society meeting. You name it. The truth is there are many options and possibilities to attend technical and professional meetings and conferences. If you are not a conference animal scanning conferences and meetup’s, no worries, there is a place for you. Meetup gives you a list of people around you who share the same interests and that is a great start to find your way on the conference scene in your community.

Many of you will defer in these situations and try to explain it somehow. “The topic wasn’t interesting to me. Speakers at the conference were not my cup of tea. The meetup is at a strange time or strange place, etc. “ The ones who want it will find a way, the others will find an excuse.

And if you are new in the conference world, relax. People at conferences are just a cool bunch of people sharing love for the same interests as you do. Our conference guide, tips and tricks, is also a blog post in the making. Going to conferences and other technical meetings are beneficial in more ways than you can imagine at first. The obvious one is that you will gain new knowledge and meet new people. This is just the first level of benefits. From this, you gain even more in future. New knowledge turns into new ideas that turn into new opportunities. New people turn into new acquaintances that turn into possible partners. All this turns you into better you.

Do good and good will come to you

An old saying, but completely true. Give yourself completely into some cause and you will be enriched. Volunteering is an extraordinary concept that gives you much more than you bargain for at the beginning. I will not go into detail and tell you where to volunteer because that is less important.

Volunteering is a kind of a soul food that will also bring you a balance to your mind and heart. Accepting that your payment will be somebody's well-being is a truly magnificent feeling. Also, you do not need to save the world as a whole (that would be ambitious), but know that with your personal acts of kindness and help, you are changing the world. And that is more than enough.

Apart from the goodness you provide for others, volunteering is like “working environment 101” class. Usually, you don’t get paid, usually, you are not that stressed, usually, you don’t have a fixed work hour, but nevertheless you are contributing through an organization. You learn how giving and receiving tasks work. You learn that somebody or something depends on you. You are a member and you are accountable for your efforts or lack of them. You are the one who controls how much you invest yourself into the cause and what will that bring. Volunteering won’t make you a millionaire, but it will open numerous doors and enrich you in unimaginable ways.

 

IAESTE meeting

Do what you love

It sounds simple, but unfortunately, it isn’t. As I already wrote in my last blog, it’s never too late switching into doing what you love. The hard part is to figure it out. So, how do you imagine your life? How will your day look in 10, 15 years? Will you be satisfied or will you be full of joy?

Definitely not a simple answer, there is no formula that will give you a magic answer to this question (for scientific purposes and common sense we will not include all those quizzes that can project what your dream job should be). It is up to you to dig it out. Look deep inside and see what your heart tells you.

Meeting new people, going to conferences, volunteering and leveling up will definitely help you in this quest. When you stumble across something new it will have two outcomes. First, you may not love it and that’s great. Scratch it from your list and continue searching. On the other hand, the more positive outcome is that you could fall madly in love with your new found interest. If you really love your interest and you are ready to master it, then it is the only thing that matters. And it’s enough to make your life awesome and successful.

Personal note - Step out of your comfort zone

I intended this to be personal, as it is the best way to represent what I believe in. All those 5 pieces of advice that are mentioned through the blog, I felt them on my skin.

Luckily, I got to a college that I enjoyed and loved from the first day. It is a blessing. But there was many of us, many of us with the same major, with the same skillset. Some more, some less skillful, but with the same diploma. I started doing cultural and music projects on my first year through a youth organization. That was my first “out of my comfort zone” experience. Placed in an environment of people so different from each other, yet so much the same.

That was the first step. As we all know many engineering students are not apt in the so-called soft skills, and by being with such a heterogeneous group - I started acquiring them. The next step was volunteering in IAESTE and helping students to go on international traineeships around the world. Giving myself into it gave me so much more back. Many friends, many experiences and many visited countries. I rarely book a hotel in European countries these days, there are always people ready to lend you a bed or two.

 

comfort zone

My soft skill stack was building quite good at this point and I was almost done with my degree. And then my first job interview. A good local company with international clients, good job - 5 open places, 200 applicants, half of them with the same diploma degree as me. You see, I was not special because of my diploma, I was just one of the fishes in the pond. I got the job in the end - thanks to additional skills which I was developing apart from my formal education. After two great years with a great team and a great boss I opted to pursue my “love” and started Bamboo Lab.

And you know what? It wasn’t easy. It was pretty hard, pretty stressful. It took me nights, it took me days, it took me my free time. But I invested myself. I wanted it hard enough and I was ready to go out of my comfort zone time after time again. There, behind sweat, tears and “blood” lies success (by your own definition, by your own standards) for everybody who is ready. Don’t wait for it, go out and grab it.



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