Hey 20 year old, this is for you (and everyone else, too) / by Kia Jarmon

By Kia Jarmon of MEPR Agency for 12th & Broad

No matter how much work I have or how impossible it seems to squeak out any more time, I have one chief personal and professional commitment, to give back. Each semester I head to the area colleges and universities, upon request, and share some heartfelt tidbits about how to strengthen your brand with the result of success in the future. But this past week I headed to the Art Institute’s Marketing class and I absolutely lost it—I went off.

I meet countless young adults through social media, email, and in person and after a series of questions I soon realize they aren’t equipped for anything relatively close to the real world. Many of those I meet are in college anticipating graduation. They reach out for an internship or entry position but they aren’t hirable. Why? They haven’t done the work.  So when I met with the AI students I took out my frustration on them.

I then realized that the lessons I was sharing was much more than for the twenty year old students in that class, but for those who are stuck in any part of their life.

So here are 10 important life and business lessons.

1. Don’t make too much money too soon that will cause you to lose your passion and only seek a paycheck. This is not encouraging people’s work. Instead, this is pointed at the person who begins to work more and more and forgets about school or more importantly their passion. This is to encourage you to make the money you need to live and work feverishly on your passion project at the same time. It’s hard work—I’ve done it—but so rewarding.

2. College is only a babysitter to hold you while you figure out your next step. The same could be said of your first job. Either way, make it count. Don’t sit around waiting on a white horse and carriage to whisk you into fairyland. Learn some new skills, gain some great friends (aka a potential business network), and make a ton of mistakes that people are more likely to forgive you for. 

3. Connect and hang around people that you want to be like in the future. I asked the students if they get out of the school and network with people in their prospective fields? Their answer. No! I was livid. So I ask, you only talk to each other? A bunch of broke jobless people are chatting it up together? I just can’t stand it. My advice. Get out, intern, volunteer, and meet people who are where you want to be. You want to be a designer, meet with designers. You desire to make a million dollars, find millionaires. Get it? Good!

 4. Have aspirations to work in a specific skill? When will you start? Don't say you want to be a graphic designer and wait to design until after graduating. Start now. Begin by volunteering a small bit of your time to get some clients hooked and then grow your portfolio. Tell people about who you are and what you do on social media and your own .com. Share your work and wide to build trust (and an online portfolio). 

5. Purchase your own .com. Like, it’s 2015 and you should own your name. Remember, what I’ve said before, you need to own your brand or it will own you. Or let me position it this way. What is Oprah didn’t own oprah.com? She would be paying a large amount of money to get back the rights to use her own name in her domain.

6. Everyone needs a mentor. You need a variety of people who have blazed the trail you seek, who have connections and relationships, and who has a heart (and mind) for guiding the next generation. No matter your age, stage, or title in life a mentor is important. But remember, the relationship needs to be mutual (not necessarily equal). Your mentor can learn a lot from you and should. Be willing to share what you know as you gather counsel from them. 

7. Ask for help. People are willing to help those who want to help themselves. You don’t have to go at life alone. People want to be available to help. But be sure that you have googled first, it’s not common sense, or something you’ve asked before and didn’t take good notes on.

8. Create your own opportunities. Don't wait on someone to add you to their team, put together your own. If you want to be an event planner then you should be producing your own event to get experience. The hardest thing about getting experience is that you need a job to get it but you have to have experience to get the job in the first place. Catch 22 if I ever saw one. So you have to create the experiences for others to see.

9. I believe that no one can outwork me. Plenty of people can be smarter. Many may have more money. But my work ethic is hard for most to understand. You should have that mentality too. Go to school during the day, work at night, and work on your passion even later at night. Believe me, it will pay off. Your overnight success might take 10 years but a hard worker will be rewarded.

10. If you don't have anything that keeps you up at night or wakes you up in the middle of the night, then you need to dig deeper to discover your calling –why you are on this earth. Why the heck on you here? If you don’t know that is not a great place to be in life. Take some time with pen and paper and outline what an ideal life would look like if you could do what you love without need for money or degrees. What would that world look like? Then add all the areas that you need to accomplish to get there. Don’t go through life hating your work or just working to make a paycheck. Life deserves to be lived.

 So after I beat up the students (and you) I say sincerely, “I want you to be successful!” Cheers to you and your success!