TED Conversations

Alex Hanse

Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

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What are some tips about dealing with life after college?

Every day college graduates are entering the real world. What are some tips or advice that you could share or you would have given yourself after leaving college?

What are some ideas in regards to not being trapped in the routine of the real world? How do we create variety and mix things up? And how do you deal with the job market being what it is? And what are some things young professionals could be doing to help build themselves up after they leave college and enter the real world?

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    Jan 18 2014: My advice ( ideas ):

    1. Work on your communication skill (wont harm if you took public speech class), i will simply quote the below from the career expert - Lindsey Pollak - "It’s so rare to find somebody who has that combination of really good technical skills and really good verbal communication skills. You will be head and shoulders above your colleagues if you can combine those two."

    2. you should know that life is all about your choices, nobody else’s. So you must take control of it. Make choices. Take risks. Fail. Try again. Fail again. But keep going, give it all you've got, and whatever you do, NEVER GIVE UP.

    3. Try the entrepreneurship track, don't just set there unemployed waiting for some job ride to take you! nobody can predict the future, but everybody can create it. So are you going to let someone else decide your future, or are you going to step up and make the decisions which will allow you live all your dreams, achieve the impossible, and live the life you imagined? choices is yours!

    4. Volunteer whenever you can, you might think its silly or you are so overwhelmed with life, job , family etc.. but believe me by volunteering in the right tracks you will gain skills & linkages your never dreamed of having till you spend like 10 years in your career, those skills & linkages will boost your career growth along with your passionate work.
  • Jan 20 2014: 1, Get a job and hold it. Always keep your eyes open for better opportunities and have a sense of what your skill set is worth to someone other than your current employer. Do not fall in a trap of thinking your skills are worth much more than they actually are worth.

    2. Live below your means. Save for times when you need money rather than borrowing.

    3. Find ways to exploit your talents outside the workplace if possible. Do not waste time.

    4. Keep improving your skill set with training an credentials. That is the way to hedge against being only valuable to one employer. If this happens, they control what you are worth and dictate the terms of employment.

    5. College prepares you for success in the workplace. Your employer owes you nothing because you completed college. It is all about what you can do for them and help them make money or provide a service.

    6. Take full advantage of savings options, stock options, healthcare benefits and all other thing your employer offers.

    7. Start saving for retirement early and aggressively. It adds up quickly

    8. Buy life insurance early, you get a good rate when you are young.

    9. Remember you are responsible for your own safety and the safety of others around you. School environments are usually safe and antiseptic, business environments not so much. Be aware of personal safety at all times.

    10. If you have problems at work, resist the temptation to argue unless it is part of your job. If you think something unusual has occurred, write down what you think, investigate what the rules are, think through your response and then use critical thinking techniques in how you handle it.

    11. Seek first to understand why something is being done a particular way before trying to change it.

    12. Make listening carefully a hall mark of your employment. Take notes if necessary.

    13. Be professional in the workplace. Dress, act and speak appropriately.

    14. Try to fill gaps to make things work better if possible.

    15. Do unto others...
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    Jan 11 2014: Make new friends of those who have shown themselves to be committed to certain worthwhile goals; read and research on your areas of interest. Dont overthink or overanalyze things, that would only cripple you with fear.
    No matter how big your dream is, it has to start before it grows. So, start.
    • Jan 11 2014: " Dont overthink or overanalyze things, that would only cripple you with fear."
      That really tells something to me..
      Thank you!
  • Jan 11 2014: Simple answer, action.

    "It has come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat around and let thing happen to them, they went out and happened to thing"

    Just take action man, find something that truly interests you and pursue. Don't be afraid to look like an idiot and don't be afraid to fail. I went out and started my own business right out of high school, I had help along the way from people with more knowledge in certain parts of the field, you can't expect to go it alone so number 2 would be to surround yourself with like minded positive individuals. Number 3 is to stay hungry and never stop clawing for what you're looking to achieve. My business has been going for six years now, it's running strong and making good money, it's also affording me the opportunity to travel as it's a very accessible job, I can hypothetically run it from anywhere in the world, which is what I wanted. Just don't give up and keep positive, the road isn't supposed to be easy but the journey is where the growth happens.
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      Jan 11 2014: Reminds me of the Chinese saying “No one who can rise before dawn 365 days a year fails to make his family rich". Money of course is not the ultimate goal but I like the sentiment of working hard almost every day.
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    Jan 10 2014: Continually improve yourself and what you have to offer. Do not settle for some lame ass job that doesnt match what you spent all that money and hard work on studying. Dont expect to be living the high life at first. If you find yourself in a rut, go do nice things for random strangers.
  • Jan 10 2014: I don't really know if suggestions from a person who lives in a completely different context can help, but I try to do my very best to share with you what I have learnt up to now. Firstly, do what you like! It may sound obvious or stupid but I grant you it's not. After spending years searching for a stable position or thinking that you can be content with what you have, I realized that what you do is part of what you are and this is an aspect of which you must not be regardless. On the other hand, don't absolutely get dragged by your job into the emptiness of greed or compelling success, because your life deserves to be worthwhile, even though you are aware of the effort and self-discipline you require once entered the employment market. You will feel absorbed by it at the beginning. Secondly, believe in you and don't be afraid or embarrassed to ask for support (I am referring to your family, your friends and your colleagues at work). You are not supposed to deal with all the difficulties by yourself and nobody you want to work with will ask you. Last but not least, a positive outlook on life turns out in more chances to be hired and, presumably, it let your future company think about a person who is able to say "Sorry, I made a mistake". And please don't pretend to do so, but behave and act in the wake of your belief. I hope you will appreciate my suggestions one day and I wish you would achieve all the goals you pursue, but more importantly you would lead your life in the way you feel.
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      Jan 11 2014: This was really good! Thanks for the thoughts!
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    Jan 29 2014: Thank you for asking this question! As a recent grad I find myself in a sort of "post-grad depression." College was full of excitement and constant stimulation, like anything was possible…but now that I am in the real world it has been hard and I know I'm not alone. I feel that too many of my peers including myself can't find jobs in their field and are forced to choose just any job with no passion. It's harder to make friends or meet potential mates out of the college seen also. We don't want to become that dull, cranky person, hardened by society but how do we prevent that?! Anyways getting on rant here, but it is an important subject and one dear to me! so thanks!
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      Jan 29 2014: Hi Amelia and welcome to TED conversations!

      I understand how the job market is, and my heart goes out to you new grads who have spent so much time, energy and money on an education.....hang in there! Did anyone every tell you life would be easy?

      I'll pass on a little tip my mom gave me when I was a wee little lass....
      Do what you love, and/or love what you are doing.

      Based on your photos, it feels like you have already embraced this idea, because you are interacting with an animal, participating in sports, and I love your smile while living life:>) I honestly do not feel that you are in danger of becoming a "dull, cranky person, hardened by society"!

      In my humble perception, we have the ability to bring passion, humor, joy, curiosity, excitement, enthusiasm, eagerness to learn and grow, etc., with us wherever we go. Wherever we go, there we are with our "self". So, it makes sense to me, to look in myself for the qualities I would like to see around me. What we focus on expands....I'm pretty sure you have discovered that....huh?

      "Life begets life
      Energy creates energy
      It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich"
      (Sarah Bernhardt)
  • Jan 28 2014: It's WHO you know and HOW you know them. Much of the WHAT is on the fly.
  • Jan 21 2014: Hi, Greetings! Most of the statistics say that on an everage only 25% of passout graduates are qualified for industries. The reason is as students our curriculums have restricted us not to apply Higher Order Thinking. Factors such as increased life span, competition from Smart machines, globalization, population explosion, inappropriate economic policies, and depletion of natural resources and so many other factors make the competition and survival very difficult. In order to survive in this scenario every college graduate should be able to analyse, synthesis, and evaluate (which are not taught in any school level curriculum and hapazardly covered in college syllabus) apart from knowledge, comprehension and application levels. One need to possess inter disciplinary skills, that is if you are good in Biology is not enough you also have to be good in Art/ Economics. You need to be a creative problem solver. Then the world is yours... All the best...
  • Jan 15 2014: A long time ago my thesis adviser said to make sure you understand the relationship between your hobby and your profession. Found that this was very good advice.

    1. Be brutally honest and list your talents and how good they are.
    2. List what you love to do. (note: wanting something does not mean you should or will get it)
    3. Do you have the talent to do what you love and make a living? (be honest)
    4. How hard are you willing to work?

    Most people have a profession that pays well and they can do well (find that and it may not be what you studied for) and do hobbies during their spare time until they retire. I had a friend who was a computer scientist who also had a phd in music. He retired and has spent full time on music until he died. Similarly, a colleague was a sculpture and it became full time when he retired.

    I am not sure if either had the talent to do their hobbies full time and earn a living.
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    Jan 11 2014: Start thinking and planning about "life after college" as soon as you start.
    1) Make contracts in the area of work you're interested in - write letters of introduction explaining your ambitions and why you think their company would suit you.
    2) Organise holiday jobs to gain experience and make contacts.
    3) Join many different college clubs as possible to broaden your knowledge, experience and friends.
    4) Don't get mixed up with drugs and excessive drink whilst at college. Pattens of behaviour laid down during college years are heard to get out of when you join the "real world".
  • Jan 11 2014: If you are a painter, then paint. What every you want to do, just start doing it! Find what you love to do and never stop doing it. Don't worry about money, do it for free if you have to and the money will come. Do it in your spare time, do it on weekends, do it at night, do it in your sleep. Just do it.
    Let Steve Jobs explain it to you:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UF8uR6Z6KLc
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    Jan 10 2014: Well, it was coming from a place of I hear students talk about needing these things after they graduate all the time.

    Mentorship in areas such as Financial, Faith, and Professionalism.

    For me, I am a graduate from the University of Florida (applied physiology and kinesiology) and Full Sail University (recording engineering degree).

    I am also running my own motivational t-shirt company to inspire individuals to live out their true dreams and purpose. The clothing company also gives a profit of their earnings to an annual scholarship for high school students going to college.

    I have my hand in a few things. I travel and go back to colleges, high schools, middle schools and any where else to talk to students about living out their dreams and never losing hope.

    I think life after college is just a gray area. And when I say create a variety...I mean what are some things young professionals could be doing to give themselves more options with their lives. They don't have to just go to work and go home. They can find a variety of hobbies and find many ways to network so I wanted to get thoughts on those things.

    So this was coming from a place of I want to help more students leaving college and entering the real world. It is not clear what happens when you leave college in this day and age. Not sure if it was ever clear...but it is really confusing now.

    Hope that helps. :-)
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    Feb 8 2014: I would start students thinking about after college the year they start. Always have a plan for what you want to do, not just where you want to work...Volunteer at things you might be interested in...Always think of yourself as self-employed, even if you work for someone else....Always be getting better at what you do and what you are. Be positive and be a good communicator.
  • Feb 8 2014: If college was a journey of the mind, begin a journey of the heart. Find a path in life you really love and don't settle for anything less. If what you learned leaves you with unanswered questions take the time to find those answers. Conversely if you think you already found the answers to the most pressing questions in your life, question those answers until you're absolutely sure you're right. This may take time but now is the time to do it. Take risks in your endeavors if you must because now is the time to do that. Don't live day to day, live goal to goal that you set for yourself but at the same time live happily and learn from your mistakes. Look and find people to surround yourself with that give your life meaning and with whom you can open your heart and your mind and realize the value of influence. Give the world a chance to change you for the better before you try to change it. Love technology, learn it, use it, but love people more. Last but not least, live for the mind and the heart and not the pocket and you will become the richest of men
  • Jan 29 2014: If you know exactly what you like and your dream job looks like, then fight for it. Even if it is needed to pass by some jobs before the good one , it is all right, but maintain yourself focused.
    Im case of not knowing what your dream job is yet, then try to find some jobs related to a sector or position you enjoy, and you will find the path step by step. Look around, read a lot, talk to people, participate in differente actions and events, and time will assist you finding your dream job.
  • Jan 28 2014: 1) Brush your teeth/go to the dentist. As a college grad I had about 2yrs between dental visits due to job/location transitions and it cost me A LOT more than a 6month cleaning to get my mouth taken care of. This has been true for many people.

    2) Establish a support system - family, friend, church, soccer team, whoever it is, keep up relationships with people who support you and who you can support. They will be super helpful in the first few years when your dorm mates moved into their own places

    3)Take the opportunities that come to you. Your first job isn't usually your dream job but can be a stepping stone to that. You CAN Quit your job if you hate it, after 3 months, or 6 months, or 2 years, however long. Moving jobs is a part of life, don't stick to one just because you said you would when you started

    4)Your education is just beginning. You'll learn so much those first few years in your job, when there's no grades and you could do C work or A work and no one will say anything. Use your job to build the skills you're new or not strong in, and advocate for yourself in areas you feel strong in. OWN YOUR SUCCESS. Every day you do something right, every day you do a good job at something, so honor that and appreciate yourself for it.

    5) Live like a broke college student. Having a new income is great, but expenses come up in life, and living another year or two in a cheaper apartment or holding off on that new car, or eating out every day, will go a long way in your financial security. Shit happens - a broken car, medical expenses, family care, student loans. Saving early will get you something you want more down the road - be that a year-long world tour, a new car/home, a vacation cruise, a new tuba, a new liver. Live like a broke college student and save yourself some stress.
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    Jan 23 2014: As a recent graduate myself, these are a few things I have learnt in terms of the job market:

    1. Network, network, network. Often it's not what you know (sadly) but who you know. Make a big fat list of them with notes on where you met them, what you talked about and where to contact them and email them every once in a while to catch up / ask for work.

    2. Work for free in a sector you're interested in, but only if you know you'll learn (and make sure you make good contacts).

    3. Make sure you do stuff whilst job hunting - volunteer, start a blog - whatever floats your boat. It's useful in terms of what you tell employers when they ask you "what have you been doing since you graduated?" and also makes sure you don't go raving mad with so many applications.

    4. Talk to people about their jobs in similar sectors and ask how they came to be in their position and what they would recommend.

    This is where my wisdom runs out but these things but I've found these few things have really helped me in obtaining a job that I love.
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    Jan 23 2014: I remember the day I started my studies, when one of mine favorite teachers said- BE PASSION. So, the only tip I can give you is to find something that makes you feel passion, so you can be happy while doing it. If you love it, you will be focused by the process of doing, not only money. Your work will inspire you. The money does not have to be your priority. Priority is fulfillment and happiness, and you can rich it only if you are doing something you love and you are passion about.

    Some studies confirmed that people rather choose job places where they can find respecting and feeling peaceful, than racing for money, stress, or extra paid jobs.
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    Jan 20 2014: Start with a job that would further your INSIGHT INTO PRACTICE IN REAL LIFE WITH YOUR PROFESSION. And keep aside monetary gains till such times you gain CONFIDENCE TO INNOVATE IN YOUR FIELD. ONLY THERE AFTER BARGAIN FOR YOUR REAL WORTH.
    LAST BUT NOT LEAST, SHARE YOUR KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERIENCE WITH YOUNG ONES IN THE FIELD OF EDUCATION, WHEN YOU ARE MATURED AND WISE ENOUGH TO MEET THEIR QUEST AND HUNGER FOR KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING. And you will enjoy that gain in your own knowledge, understanding, and innovation further due to young spirited ideas prevalent then among youth of the time.
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    Jan 20 2014: Learn how to be your own BOSS. Do everything to Start your own business in spite of all common but upsetting obstacles. College does not teach you to live your life, but it gives you some diploma as a recognition - you're a "professional person" (while you're still not). However, if you're working for others, try to learn from other's mistakes, and try to observe someone's business as if it would be your own, in the whole operation.

    To depend on others to the rest of your life, getting paid for some job you do not like, and be controlled by others, is a terrible waste of time for an ambitious and talented person. Be ethical but brave, and remember, the bosses in all sorts of fields make childish mistakes everyday. One who Learns from mistakes - survives.

    Thank you for reading. I was a very young business owner once, going through hell because some "experts" were teaching me their old ways…

    Market is changing, information is changing, people's opinions are changing, we have to learn how to lead, or just follow the rest and adjust in a hurry.

    The best of the best :)
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      Jan 20 2014: Thanks man! This is really great stuff!
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        Jan 20 2014: THANK YOU :)

        Alex, please do not forget - what works for some people might not work for you, even hurt you in your unique situation. Find or "invent" YOUR ways, even between the feilds. Build your OWN FUTURE.

        Psychology is an endless source of inspiration that is rooted in every field of knowledge or industries. People are so lost these days! this means your work can be endless.

        Will be happy to answer any questions, anytime.
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    Jan 19 2014: I completely agree with Ayd's point about volunteering. I'd add that, if America is like New Zealand, employers so often want experience and it can be difficult to find work without it. Volunteering while studying is one way around that catch 22 and can also lead to unexpected job offers.

    But it's not only good from the career development perspective. It can create that variety and be a way out of the 'real world routine' you speak of. It can bring you into contact with the sorts of people you're not likely to meet in your professional and social circles, and that can be fascinating and rewarding and enlightening. It can make you feel you're contributing to something bigger, which can be especially important if your career is one that's mostly about paying the bills. It's just plain good for the soul.

    Other advice I would give is don't be afraid to cut your losses if you know (KNOW) the career you thought would make you happy will make you unhappy. Change track or even start again if you need to and can do so - just plan it carefully, seek advice, research and be sure this time around. When most people start out at college/university, their executive lobe hasn't finished developing and they also often don't have the workplace experience that would tell them what they'd love to do and what they wouldn't, or even what jobs are out there. Some mistakes are to be expected.

    Finally, look at the big picture, understand what you want out of life and make sure your actions align with your lifetime priorities. One technique I use to put things into perspective is the 'deathbed regret' one. When my time comes, I wouldn't want to be lying there thinking, 'Well, I hardly know my kids, but at least I had a tastefully furnished living room.'
  • Jan 18 2014: Travel more and meet more people! Change your life with HeySuccess.com

    One of the best things that happened to me during my attendance to International Youth Forum Seliger in Russeia last summer was attending sessions of Heysuccess!
    Milenko and Natasa rock the room conference, hundreds of students were standing to listen to the session. What if you are a young student! How can you create your own future and how to make it to see more than 45 countries for free, Yesss for free.
    With www.heysuccess.com you can do that simply.
    Just check what Scholarships, Internships, Conferences or even Jobs and competitions that are suitable to your country and apply for it online, you can find hundreds of opportunities that is fully funded.
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    Jan 18 2014: I just watched a TED talk a few days ago that was chock full of excellent advice for people in their twenties. Please watch this, as I could not have given better advice. The speaker is psychologist Meg Jay, and her message is spot on!

    http://www.ted.com/talks/meg_jay_why_30_is_not_the_new_20.html
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    Jan 15 2014: Think be the best you can be, and when at work, try to give your best tirelessly, do not be afraid, innova, provides ideas, explore unknown prospects perhaps discarded by others, if you think there may be something interesting in them. Do not enter any comfort zone, stay in your mental fitness and not expect others to admire your work, only strive to do it honestly well.
    Oh and do not forget that when you finish your studies your knowledge will be just that ... knowledge, and you will have to put the rest.
    And good luck!
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    Jan 11 2014: Make new friends of those who have shown themselves to be committed to certain worthwhile goals; read and research on your areas of interest. Dont overthink or overanalyze things, that would only cripple you with fear.
    No matter how big your dream is, it has to start before it grows. So, start.
  • Jan 11 2014: Things are in constant flux. The real world is a mythology created by people who left college and discovered they are the world. The best way to deal with a life unsupported by paid advocates is to believe in yourself and do the work required to make your vision a reality.
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    Jan 11 2014: Find a good role model in a field you're interested in. Study the lives of successful men and women, past or present. Find a good mentor, a big brother or a big sister. Find a problem you can solve. Generally, either a person is a problem-solver or problem-maker or maybe somewhere in-between. Find a way to contribute positively to your family and community. Help! Help! Help! And others will help you! Smile a lot ...!
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    Jan 10 2014: I get your thoughts - I'm looking at it from a slightly different view. You choose your career path based on your loves so you are not trapped (in my case medicine and research), then apply social intelligence to be the best you can be in your field and "get ahead" (or as good as you want to be - working 80 hours/week gets old). I also get your thought on putting on a fake smile - it's really not about that. It's about figuring out how to optimize your opportunities in the system you live and work in. Two people might have the exact same background and opportunities but 1 has more social intelligence. That person is far more likely to succeed.

    I'm also not sure what he really wants - but his question has generated some good discussion!
    • Jan 10 2014: Agreed, lovely discussion. People need to find their way through their lives in the current situation and the current way society works. But with your example, why shouldn't they work together, to compensate for each other's misses? I think larger progress and happiness/satisfaction can be achieved when people work together rather than divide them into who's more successful and who's likely to succeed. People don't work that way.
      Also to alleviate any doubts, I wasn't trying to say your suggestion alludes to "sucking up" to people, as you previously stated it's not about that. I was pointing out that perhaps the insight you provided might not be appropriate in this case. Still I agree with you, any skill that one possesses is a plus to starting any activity.
  • Jan 10 2014: Thinking about college graduates entering the "real world" immediately leads me to the word "unemployment".
    I'm not exactly in the same situation as the demographic you want to help. I'm merely a high school graduate (I feel as if it was actually 12 years of studies wasted, where I could have done more things to develop myself) facing the same problems of unemployment. Also I face people calling me lazy the every other day.

    What I would suggest is to try suggesting those ex-students is to form a group or community. Nothing beats the help you can get (even if it's just plain insight) when meeting people in your same situation. But advise them not to just sit around and talk, but tell them to take some sort of action.
    Ideally everyone would have a bit of capital of sorts. If this were the case, they could all agree to start a worker-owned business, where there are no bosses, nobody gets fired, and provides a purpose to those idle hands. Even if it's something as plain as a bakery shop, or a coffee shop, they all could get to decide how to produce and sell the things they do. They would also be more motivated to work since their own work is appreciated, and they can feel the satisfaction of benefiting everyone.
    Too many people are being alienated, and think they should just struggle by themselves, work under a boss for a job that can any time just poof into disappearance.

    I would recommend you to give this a read:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Worker_cooperative
    Don't let the word "socialism" scare you.
    Also I would suggest you to look up on Richard D. Wolfe's works. He even posts monthly talks on his official channel on YouTube, they're always insightful.
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      Jan 20 2014: Even a High School graduate can get self employed provided he/she understands what lures the most.
      One must catch that and jump into its perfection practices.That persuasion of ones likes leads to a professional
      expertise and hence acceptance by the society at large. "TO MAKE ONESELF USEFUL TO PEOPLE AROUND IS THE REAL TASK, OR SO CALLED CREATION OF A PLACE FOR ONESELF TO RISE.
      There are many who have risen to their top by sheer hard work, from their lowest with self help,and self- -development with tireless persuasion in their goal.Wealth follows such individuals.GOD HELPS THOSE WHO HELP THEMSELVES.
      • Feb 8 2014: Your advice is quite sad and redundant. I think this shouldn't be how society works.
        Also please refrain from writing entire phrases in caps. Keep gawd out of the discussion.