Schoolwork, unicorns, and networking

My experiences over the past few months have taught me a lot about myself and have changed how I value some of my experiences over the past few years.

Networking

In short, I have gone from detesting the business of “networking” to adoring it. This has been a pretty slow process over the past few years; I think my final hesitations against networking have been removed in the past few weeks. I am a pretty nerdy (technical) guy and for a long time I assumed:

  1. I did not like interacting with people
  2. I only liked interacting with other technical people
  3. Technical work was always more inportant than human interaction
  4. If I am technically “good” then networking is moot

I still think networking is less important if you are really good at what you do; however, I’d argue that even if you are, it takes a heck of a lot more work. The nerd argument comes full circle – networking is, by comparison to other methods, extremely resource efficient. Moreover, in the past, when I networked in the past, I only did so with people like myself. My recent experience has led me to really appreciate the fact that my most valuable connections are people in positions totally unrelated to mine.

All of this also underscores something I have really learned about myself in this whole process – I am a pretty social person. No, I am not and don’t want to be the life of a party; on the other hand, I always liked to deny how much value I get out of interacting with people. My days of INTJ-envy are, admittedly, over.

Schoolwork

A few weeks ago I really felt uncomfortable with dropping out of my masters program. I hate to give up or feel like I am not progressing my life forward. Truth be told, however, it was just not the right program for me. After reading about and reflecting upon the Entrepreneurial Myth, I realized that I need a program which engages most every aspect of my personality and skill-set, not just a single part. I originally chose a masters program to suit my image of myself, not who I actually am. That choice led me to be extremely unhappy and hate just about everything because I was trying to be someone else.

So, I dropped out. It felt weird and violated just about every principle I have around “giving up” but it was the best decision. School and all of the work for my first quarter was a sunk cost.

Finally, while I didn’t make this really clear in my discussions with people but one of my major motivations for moving – getting into an MBA program near where I actually want to live. Yep – networking.

Unicorns

The most surprising thing I have learned in the past few weeks – writing a mobile phone application with unicorns and exploding stars/hearts was an excellent career move.

I never intend on being a serious mobile application developer; moreover, I don’t want to primarily be a developer at work, either. Writing a mobile application was a great move on my part, however, because doing so:

  • Gave me experience I’d otherwise never have gotten
  • Shows my flexibility as a developer
  • Opened a new set of jobs I’d otherwise never have considered

Oh, and one more thing – the most important point. I loved writing my MoodyUni app and the dedication to the project shows in the final product. Granted, it’s not an elaborate application, at all; however, since it was a personal side-project, I put in a lot of TLC. Since I was enthusiastic and interested in the application as a personal project, I likely learned a heck of a lot more than I would have were it a school or professional project. That knowledge may, in the end, be what helps me land a new position.

All-in-all

I say be social, make mistakes & learn from them, and have fun.