IT might be a career, might be a gap year, might be grad school, might even just be the first job. It just is IT. IT is what you must do when you graduate in May.
Have you started thinking about IT? Have your parents asked about IT? Are your friends avoiding IT? No matter, because in the next 2.5 or 3.5 years, IT should start to invade your subconscious.
When i think about IT, I believe that IT requires three things between now and graduation:
1. you must figure out what IT is.
2. You must create a narrative that enables you to accomplish IT.
3. And you must get started toward IT in order to reach IT.
So, first, what is IT for you? What is your objective of these four years? Where does all this lead? You may have heard of politicians talk about the one percent. You know, those 1% of people that have 40% of the wealth, while the rest of us have, well, have the remainder. Well, you are the 1%. Take the approximately 130 million babies born in 1997. The US is about 4% of the world population: that’s 6 million babies in the US in 1997. What percent of those 6 million get to attend a top university like UVA. Let’s say 4000 x top 20 schools, 80,000 students, divided by 6 million, is about 1%—so, yes, you are the 1%. So, if you are the 1%, what are you going to do with this opportunity? (Have you heard that question before?) You may have goals: make a lot of money–heck, just make some money; maybe solve a world’s problem; maybe help others; maybe just move out of your parents house (on not). But to achieve these goals, you’ve got to figure out IT.
So, how many of you know what IT is right now? Whoa, from my meetings with students, not too many. Well, if you don’t know what IT is, then how will you figure IT out? aking 3-4 four years to figure IT out is a luxury, but this is the one time in your life that you will have that much time to think about it. So, take this time, now.
Now, once you know what IT is, then you want to get IT, so how will you?
Well, three-ish years from now, you’ll have to sit down in front of an employer, admissions officer, parent, dean, senator, doctor, or lawyer and tell them why IT is what you have wanted to do since you were a kindergartner at Barneys Kindergarten for Gifted Children. You will need to tell them a story, I call it a narrative, that will justify, rationalize, make sense of most of the big decisions you will make in your college years. You’ll want to tell them why you came to UVA, why you took the Media Studies class, Shooting the Best Western Movie or Religious Studies In Defense of Sin; why you chose a sorority; why you chose what you chose to be involved in; why you volunteered at Madison House; and why streaked the lawn when you were a fourth year. Okay, maybe you can leave that last part out.
Your narrative is not just a rationalization, it is both an exploration and an exercise in skill building. First, your narrative allows you to explore. Maybe you didn’t take In Defense of Sin because you want to be a nun, maybe you took it to explore the idea of a possible career serving prisoners. Part of building a narrative is exploring your options.
And maybe you didn’t take In Defense of Sin to rationalize your weekend behavior, maybe you took it to build the skill of defending an argument. Part of your narrative is the skills and competencies you develop through the activities you choose.
So, you see, your course selection, as one example, is not random—it is part of your narrative, which, when you deliver it three years from now, in pursuit of IT, will help the employer see the what and the why of your four years at UVA.
Then finally, by reading this, you have chosen to no longer procrastinate your pursuit of IT. But for those of you sitting out there thinking, “I can’t think about IT just yet,” I implore you to get started now. Just start thinking about IT. And here’s how? Pull out a piece of paper. Write down the following:
What questions do I need to answer to figure IT out?
Take only 1 minute, write at least one question.
Now, with that one question, you’ve started your pursuit of IT. The first answer will be the first paragraph of your narrative.