Notice: I missed a week of writing, but what I would have written: balancing working full-time while starting a business—would have been soooo boring, just be super organize, wake up early or stay up late, and outsource your work!
Next year is my 10 year high school reunion (class of 2008), I cannot believe how fast time has gone. I remember when I was a freshman my teachers told me that “these years are going to fly by!” and indeed they have. I remember when MySpace came out, and I really liked creating my profile with a cool background and uploaded my pictures with a scanner (I used the kodak reusable camera and went to my local CVS store to print the pictures, wow times have changed!). And when Facebook was available to the public, I quickly moved on and created an account where I could connect and share my social life with my high school and childhood friends. I was so fascinated to see how people shared their social lives online and I wanted to be part of it. In my senior year, I was part of the Yearbook class (in fact my friend and I came up with the Yearbook title: The Time Has Come: the Past, the Present and the Future) and for my bio I remember writing about wanting to change the world, end poverty, hunger, and run for office one day (I still do, but let’s be honest in the US, corporations are now more powerful than the government, so for change to happen, one needs to own a successful business). And by the time I reached university, my vision to achieving the goals changed. For the first time, I lived away from home, I met people from different religions, cultures, and class. Something very life changing for a small town girl!
Education is definitely an investment, but being out of school and meeting successful people, soft-skills like: networking, event organising, hosting, holding good conversation about various topics (travel, current events, finance, business, etc), being a board member, speaking more than 1 language, and fundraising are really important skills to have.
No one really cares about your degree….what is your experience?
Okay, you have a degree. Great, but so does thousands of other people, it’s a start, but what is your experience? Well, the best way to answer this question for someone with little to no experience is how “to sell” your soft skills and your extracurricular activities to make up for your lack of experience. How do you do that? Well, being a member of a board or organisation helps you build leadership skills, understand team work (and office politics), how to manage your time and responsibilities, decision making, etc. My social activities from high school all the way up to grad school has enabled me to learn how to write proposals, practice public speaking, fundraising, and organising events. We all need practice, and though I’m early in my career and start up stage, I have almost a decade of experience (and still a lot to learn!).
Where is everyone now: class of 2008 and my childhood friends
I’m still Facebook friends with some of my high school peers and childhood friends, and it’s quite amazing to see how life (from a far) has turned out for people. Many are working in successful and big companies, few got married to their high school sweethearts, others have children, and like me some have moved out of our small town and are living an adventurous life. One of the privileges of being an American is individuality and not letting where you come from define your future. So it’s nice to see nearly a decade later how people are living their lives. Have I made recommendations for people to move across the world to Asia and start a business, of course, but this life is not for everyone, so I respect their decisions.
If I could change anything I’ve done during my studies
If I could send a message back to “18 year old Blair” I would say:
Always trust your gut, focus on the long-term rewards. It will be hard at the beginning and at times you will be unsure and uncomfortable, but it will be the best decision for you.
I can honestly say that I have few regrets, because I never really cared what people thought of me and I wanted better for myself, because it was up to me to work for a better future. However, one regret is not being a better friend and letting my studies, beliefs, and work get in the way of certain friendships. That is why today, I don’t take the word friendship lightly, and people that I’m friends with, no matter how busy I am, or wherever in the world I am, I will make time for. Another regret is not studying outside the US, I could have saved so much money and debt by studying my BA abroad. Though I was able to pay off my private loan, if I knew about the opportunities and lower cost of studying abroad, I would have definitely have gone abroad (though I made up for this with my Master’s degree).
Never stop learning: read, travel, take an online course!
One mentality many, not all, universities install in students is that once they have their degree they are done learning and can find a job. And that’s a big problem, because your degree is just a tool and it's was up to you how to use it. So, a few months before I officially graduated (walked for graduation), I began my entrepreneurial journey, l learned how to build a website, basic coding, and read books on how to start a business. Anyone today can learn a new skill, as long as they have access to the internet, a smart phone, and can discipline themselves to study 2 hours a day. I wish universities would teach self-discipline, networking, and event organising, these are soft-skills that can make a difference in success!
Healthy Hair Asia news
Since I work full-time, I have a small team of people that are helping me rebrand and reformulate my products! A lot of exciting things happening!
As always, thank you for reading!