A few weeks ago I’ve been dealing with the struggles of almost every newly graduate or close to graduating: finding a job. To get a job means I have to provide value to the person who hires me and I’m insecure about that. I’m an accounting major, and I barely know anything technical about accounting that could apply in a firm. I’ve learned a little about business but I’m not nearly skilled enough compared to anyone in the industry. I have no technical skills compared to the engineers and computer science majors. What value can I provide?
I brought this issue to my friend Ken and he gave me one of the biggest insights of the year.
I was struggling with the same thing when I was searching for jobs, but I realized that employers know that we’re new graduates and that we don’t know anything. Adding value is for someone who’s already five years into the industry…we’re new graduates, college only proves that we’re capable of learning. And that’s what employers are looking for when they hire you: someone who they can teach to add value to their company. Coming from Haas (School of business at Berkeley), I saw this way too often that kids would bullshit to employers as if they’re already five years into the industry. “I can make decks and models of this or I can streamline that”, they end up sounding like tools. They don’t know anything just like the rest of us.
“Then why should employers pay us 40k—50k a year when we know nothing and can’t do anything?” I asked.
Because as unfair as it sounds, we live in a society where our college degrees earn the right for employers to invest 40k-50k so that we can one day add value to their company.
With Ken’s advice I’ve reset my mentality.
I no longer feel pressure to prove that I can add value because I really can’t add value. I can, however, stay humble, be genuine about knowing nothing, and pick the best opportunities to learn.
In International Trade we learn the idea of comparative advantage, and how countries benefit from trading with each other if one is better at producing a commodity than another.
Within the first few lectures the professor will emphasize that a country doesn’t need absolute advantage for trade to be beneficial, just comparative advantage.
I think this concept can be applied to team dynamics.
Some good discussion in this thread at Hacker News about how to evaluate people with a business skillset if you've got technical skills already.
I reckon "a knack for getting money" is probably the most key thing to look for in a businessperson. Some people have a knack for getting money.
All the business skills in the world without the knack for getting money doesn't fly. Well, maybe for employee #7,632 once a company's made it. But not for starting something up. You need to hustle and get money of some form real fast early on. A business guy who can't get money is probably worse than useless - if he wasn't on board, you'd be worried about solving the money problem yourself. But since he's supposedly the business guy and seems to be doing business guy stuff, you think things are cool. But things aren't cool. Go long enough without money, you die.
So, where do you get a knack for getting money? We're not born with it. It's acquired through action somehow. What's it take?