What No One Tells You In College

Garden of the Gods Colorado
Laurie PetersenGarden of the Gods, Colorado Springs

I had the privilege to speak with a group of college students at Stevens Institute of Technology earlier this year. It was a Saturday leadership conference and covered a variety of career topics.

You know you're going to have a good crowd at a weekend event because these are the students willing to forgo their sunny day in exchange for the chance to learn something and meet new people. They showed up like professionals, well-groomed and on time.

The person who spoke before me used an inventive way to demonstrate how to make yourself memorable in a roomful of people you've never met. She asked the students to write their favorite quote on an index card and then explain why they chose it and what it meant to them.

She set me up perfectly because although no names were mentioned I had a good sense of what was driving these students and could tailor my comments to their individual areas of interest.

They wanted to know everything.

They wanted to talk startups. They wanted to know how I was able to change industries as often as I have. (Just because I could doesn't mean you should.) They wanted to know the pros and cons of different size companies. They followed me into the corridor, asked me to evaluate their apps. They wanted to talk through the lunch break.

I haven't felt like such a rock star since my girlfriend and I were mobbed on the beach of a southern Italian fishing village. We were college students -- both blonde and possibly the only American women to ever visit that tiny town.

I told the Stevens students to travel.

See the world and be in the world to understand it. Keep in touch with the people you meet along the way. But the most important thing is to stay healthy. I recall no "wellness" conversations in my college heyday. No discussions of balance or sustainability, standing up at work instead of sitting down.

If not for my health, I wouldn't have been able to live life on my terms. And the older I get the more clear it becomes that health considerations dictate career and life choices for people at any stage.


(This post originally appeared on LinkedIn.)

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