Advice I’d Tell Myself if I Wasn’t Me

Study Abroad

When I was in college I didn’t study abroad, because I was afraid of what I would miss during the three months away. It is one of my greatest regrets. Visiting other places helps you remember the things you love about home. It is fun. It stretches your mind.

Do something before and after work/school

Nothing ruins my day like looking back at bedtime and seeing nothing accomplished. And nothing makes it better than feeling like I did something worthwhile before and after work. I usually read on the bus, and lately we try to get some work done on our house in the evenings. This is a very open ended suggestion: if there’s something beneficial that you can do before and after work, do it, even if it is small.

Major in Computer Science

I didn’t do this, but working at a tech company (Zillow) makes me wish I had. In today’s economy, there are very few more desired professionions (per A few myths to dispel:

  1. CS degrees mean you must be a dude. (false: girls can be very good at developing, and companies love hiring them.)
  2. Only sterotypical nerds like programming. (false: that’s just in the movies.)
  3. Developers never get to talk to anyone, they just program all day. (false: half of programming at real companies is planning with your teammates and solving problems together.)

CS isn’t for everyone, so if you have an interest or passion already, go chase it. But if you don’t have a passion… consider doing CS. I wish I did.

Inbox Zero

I covered my email strategy in a different post, but I am not exaggerating when I say that it has made me appear to be much more responsible than I am. I don’t think I’ve forgotten to reply to an email ever since I’ve switched, and I respond to all of my emails within 24 hours. Bills don’t get left behind, and requests get taken care of. Inbox Zero isn’t my idea: here’s the original speech by Merlin. Now just pretend it’s a TedTalk and you’ll love it.

Stop playing MMORPGs and freemium games and level up in real life instead

One of my biggest pet peeves with the youth of the last 2 decades is how much of our time has been sucked up by MMORPGs like World of Warcraft or freemium games like Farmville and Candy Crush. I wasted years playing Runescape. I totally get it. But seeing yourself “improve” is addictive, and what these games simulate so well is “you just got better.” There’s a clear line where you “level up” and when you hit it you feel awesome. Real life isn’t that clear cut – but the satisfaction lasts longer. The best part is that there’s no empty aftertaste because it actually counts for something. So turn off your RPG and start learning a skill you’d be excited to have. You can even get your friends involved and call it a guild if it helps.

Do a college internship regardless of your major

This is another piece of advice based on my own regrets: I didn’t do an internship during school. No matter what major you’re doing, try to get an internship (or the equivalent of an internship.) Everyone works eventually, and this will help you verify if you actually like the work. You’ll also be much, much more employable.

RSVP and don’t bail

If you’re invited to something, RSVP! Not responding is totally rude and leaves the host hanging. The thought process should go like this:

RSVP flow chart thought process

I have a hunch that the biggest reason people don’t RSVP is because they are afraid something more fun will come up. Just because everyone thinks about this doesn’t mean it’s okay to be unresponsive. RSVP within a few days after you get an invite, and stick with your decision. You’ll be much appreciated for it.

Don’t mistake thirst for hunger

Sometimes you think you’re hungry but you’re really just thirsty. That’s all. This could be about food or it could be about life. That’s as profound as I go with my advice.

Don’t forget to comment with more advice or backtalk if you take issue with what I’ve said above.

Author: Matt

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