My younger brother is going to start his college this year. He’s going to study and become an engineer in the computer science field. While I’ve been very happy with his decision — purely because he actually wishes to study computer science; here’s what I want to tell him that nobody told me when I started.
Find your purpose
Now that you have decided what you want to do with your life, you need to realize why. It might be a bit overwhelming to think about it right now, but trust me — it’s easier than you think. Remember when we were young and everyone wanted to become an astronaut? Well, that ain’t happening for everybody of course. But what you want to do right now is a sum of your experiences and world view since that naïve 6-yo wanted to become an astronaut (which you still can be, BTW). The coming 4 years are a cushioned box for you where you can realize why you want to do what you want to do.
Learn to give a shit
If I could summarize all the knowledge and experience accumulated thus far in my waking life, it would be this. Nobody achieved greatness, or even usefulness, without giving a shit about what they do. So start going that extra mile for things that you care about. Slog that extra hour off to complete that side project you’ve been working on. Practice a little more about that piece you’re gonna play in the next cultural meet. While everyone’s busy playing video games on the college LAN, go write that blog on that cool JS library you tried out last weekend. Give a shit — about your craft.
Don’t listen to the naysayers
You’ve probably experienced this before in school, but college is even brutal. There will be bullies. There will be people making a laughing stock out of you when you fumble trying to recite that poem in front of the class. There will be people — you classmates — talking trash about you simply because you’re doing something they’re not (or cannot). There will be people telling you you’re just a worthless waste of space on the earth, and that startup idea you’ve been mulling over is going to fail miserably.
Here’s what you should do. Keep your head down, and keep working. Don’t revert back, don’t stand up to them. Ignore them. Let your work do the talking. The naysayers don’t count.
Be humble. Be nice
Small wins in college and some praise from your peers will often get your head high in the sky. Stay grounded. Be grateful — and move on to the next thing. Don’t let your small achievements be the biggest achievements of your entire college life.
Stand on the shoulders of giants
Find a mentor. It can be anyone — a senior or a peer. Learn from them (and everyone else). Read books. Scourge through the Internet for things that interest you. Go on a Wikipedia rabbit hole often. Follow people who wrote well, and write good stuff. Then write your own.
Always be creating
4 years are your sandbox for whatever you want to try — absolutely whatever. Don’t let your stream of study constrict what you’d rather do. Follow your curiosity and always keep doing fun stuff. Create stuff. Show it to people. Then create some more.
Every year, 1.5 million engineers graduate in India. Out of this overwhelming crowd, studies suggest that over 80% are unemployable. With a country filled with so much of great talent, this is but a colossal waste of grey matter. This problem is very close to my heart, and we’ve been working on something that could help solve this. Watch this space!