With the explosion of tertiary education and now the online learning market growing at a rapid rate, working has become something you do when you’re ‘ready’. The gap has become wider between education and work and it’s not getting closer. Over time it’s gradually expanded, we have all heard our great grandparents tell us that they started work when they were 11 in the coal mine and that we’ve never had it so easy. So it begs the question…if the average age of entry into the workforce is increasing are we reluctant to give the next generation ‘a go’ or are they just reluctant to have ‘a go’?
At 18 I was left with a big decision, go to University or start working. I jumped into a job as a Real Estate Agent in London’s unforgiving cut throat market and needless to say I never looked back. It wasn’t that straight forward however. It took me 26 applications and 9 interviews before someone took a chance on me. I thought about University once or twice in the first month but as I tasted the sweet scent of success I didn’t look back.
I doubt a Uni degree or an online course would’ve taught me the execution required to deliver in the real world. I knew in my heart that I wanted to join the workforce and 3 years of study and thousands of dollars worth of debt didn’t interest me. Getting my chance was a life changing moment for me.
I will never forget Steve (Regional Director) looking at me and saying, “I’m sorry Luke, you look fantastic in that suit but we don’t have any vacancies in this office…” my heart sank…then I hear…but…I think you would be perfect for our Southfields branch…I will call the Manager now. He asked if I would drive the other side of London to interview that evening…ummm…of course…why wouldn’t I? I now know how rare it is for someone to put that type of effort in at short notice…I literally have to influence, cajole and arm wrestle people to interview at short-notice…the entitlement is extraordinary. Anyway, I drove over there, nailed the interview and started on the Monday.
That set the tone for my next 12 years…I’ve just ‘done’ and I’m still ‘doing’, I’ve never stopped and thought too long and hard about why or what could have been. As you may know if you follow my Instagram and see the reading list, I’ve started consuming audible books like they’re going extinct but that is a recent change for me as I look to the next decade of my career. For the past decade, I haven’t come up for breath, study hasn’t been on the radar as I’ve spent 10,000 hours listening to people who have been in my shoes, in executive positions and experienced an MBA on the job! I’m starting to consume specific knowledge now however, as I will need plenty of armoury for the next decade of ‘doing’. Interestingly, due to experience I’ve gained, the books and study make a lot more sense and create tangible context, particularly in the start-up environment I’m currently in. I’m not sure that would’ve been the case if I had studied at 18!
Ask yourself when you’re thinking about your future…what excites me right now? Do I have a burning desire, skill set and opportunity to make a career of something or start a business? If yes…it could be the right decision.
OR am I better off consuming, studying, gaining further self-awareness from people and situations around me during a degree or online course? If yes perhaps you should take your time and study.
You also need to be extremely self-aware and that takes honesty, brutal honesty. Ask yourself, am I presenting as someone who knows the value they can add to an organisation or am I presenting as a sponge who is purely looking at work to take from and not give?
The punchline is…if you’re the latter…you probably aren’t ready and you may need to keep consuming until you hit that point you can generously give. However if you’re the former…what are you waiting for? Get going…just do…go!
The road is full of endless paths hence there is no one set path. Enjoy and embrace the decisions you make and be sure to listen to your intuition.