Photo Credit: Hyperisland Press Page

Advice I Would Have Given Myself Six Years Ago

Nina Amjadi · May 20, 2015

Nina shares her pro-tips for those who are kicking off their career

I’m currently leading and designing a module for the Digital Media Creative class of 2016 at Hyper Island in Karlskrona. This basically means I get the privilege to determine what the students get to do and learn during a period of 7 weeks, as it relates to the topic “Running A Digital Business”. This is very exciting for two main reasons:

1- When I’m 52, I want to spend half of my time teaching. I decided this when I was 18 and I’m sticking to it. It’s going to be awesome.

2- I was once a Hyper Island student and this particular module was my favorite one. Pretending to run your own digital agency for 7 weeks? Heck yeah. Also, coming back to the school, but this time as a lecturer just completed the circle for me.

Although the majority of the module is managed from New York, last week was spent on location in Karlskrona, Sweden — the original home and roots of Hyper Island. I held a few lectures, workshops and general mentor check-ins. Every minute spent with the students was fun and interesting but what happened in between these lectures is what really made the mark.

During lunches or breaks, someone would always grab my attention to ask questions about life and career. As I was formulating my best answers, groups would quickly gather around me with big hungry eyes. Each time this happened, it felt like that one scene in every Disney movie when all the animals in the forest come out from behind rocks and trees, to curiously take part in whatever action is going on. Needless to say, I could tell that the future was stressing them out and that any piece of advice would help them navigate their way. In that same moment, I also realized that I was once there in the same seat, battling some of the same questions: Is my portfolio good enough? Where should I go for my internship? Will I even get an internship? What am I good at? What if I choose the wrong role? What if I fail?

I decided right then and there to write a piece for any student who is currently standing on top of a hill looking out on the horizon wondering “what shall become of me?”

5 Tips For Graduates On How To Navigate Your Career

Figure out what you want to brag about when you’re 85

Do you want to be someone who travelled a lot? Someone who helped make this world a better place? Someone who inspires others? Someone who has a garden? Someone who brings the family together? Whatever it may be, figure it out and let this become your compass. This is key to your decision making moving forward.

Identify what it is you’re willing to lose sleep over and do exactly that

What is it that makes you tick? That keeps you going? That keeps you up all night and that makes you say “I would do this for free If I had to”. If you haven’t found it yet, think of your most vivid and fun childhood memories. What were you doing? What role did you take in play? Did you collaborate? Did you lead? Kids always stop playing when they’re not happy with the role they have in a game. Similarly, kids always keep playing until they wet their pants when they’re doing something that satisfies them completely. Something that fulfills their role. What is that for you? Do that!

Your first job / internship is not the last stop of your career, don’t be dramatic.

Don’t stress too much about where to go and what role to assume — it’s the first stop of your career and you’d be silly to think that it’s your last. Also, by the time you’re 50, you could easily re-invent yourself 5 times and still have a killer career in each role. No matter what you do, it will be a learning experience and something that will help shape the 85 year-old you want to be one day.

Commit 100%, be a hard-worker and throw your ego to the side, please.

Take this advice no matter where you are in your career. Committing 100% to what you need to do, is going to be ten times more valuable than only committing half-way. Also, always work hard, it’s as easy as that. Nobody likes lazy people. Lastly, don’t be a chest-puffer with extreme confidence. You might be great but nobody knows that until you’ve proven it — so be humble, be grateful and work hard.

Surround yourself with the best of people

Everyone needs a good support system when things fall apart but also when things are great. Life is tough and fantastic all at the same time. Surrounding yourself with great people to share both the ups and downs with is something you will not regret.. When you’ve found these people, tell them about your 85 year-old and they’ll help you navigate difficult decisions as you embark on your journey.

These five tips would have been really helpful for me when I was still in school, but I managed pretty darn good without them so my last piece advice to you is, do with it what you will. If the above speaks to you and helps you see clearer — use it, let it empower you and enjoy it. If you can’t connect with what I shared at all, then just disregard it and do it your way. If you’re the latter person, please send me an email and let me know what you do/did. I would love to know your secrets.

Lastly, I want to quote Ulf Sandström who is a mental coach, artist, speaker and the beam of sunshine that enters through your bedroom window in the mornings. He says that the only two questions you ever really need to ask yourself as you go through life, are the following:

1- What did I learn?

2- How can I apply that learning?

That’s all you need answers to, forget about everything else. Don’t stress over life and certainly do not stress over your career, you’ll figure it out. Just ask your 85 year-old self about it, I’m sure he/she will smile in agreement.