This article was published on The Mission. Check it out.
This article was published on The Mission. Check it out.
As a Praxis participant, I get one-on-one sessions with advisors each month. I decide which advisor I want to schedule with and what I’d like for us to focus on. Here are three big goals I set for myself and how I worked with each of my advisors to achieve them.
1. I became a teacher. I’ve always been interested in helping others learn, but I wasn’t sure where to start and always figured you needed a certain certification to teach. However, if there’s one thing I’ve learned in Praxis it is that you don’t need a piece of paper to do something in the real world. I decided to schedule with Austin Batchelor and create the project of making coding tutorials.
I took all of Austin’s resources, advice, and encouragement and starting putting out videos on my YouTube channel. This seemingly small act of creating tutorials highlights the power of the digital paper trail that Praxis encourages participants to build: my videos ended up being seen by an awesome kids coding program called Hackingtons. The founder offered me a part-time job as a curriculum developer and as a teacher when I have the time. Now I get paid to help kids learn to code, and I love it. Next up, I’ve been building a coding course on Udemy with Austin’s guidance. Who better to ask about building a Udemy course than a Udemy instructor like Austin who builds incredible courses taken by thousands of students?
2. I started an interview series and site. Ever since I started coding, I always wondered what software developers actually did and how they became developers. I booked with Amanda Grimmett to talk about this idea I had where I interviewed developers. Together we made an action plan to make it happen, with sessions on how it was going and what I needed to do next. I was following my plan, scheduling interviews and working with an awesome friend to help me build the site, design ect. However, I found myself procrastinating and I became afraid to actually put my idea out there and make it real. When I scheduled with Amanda about this, her help and support put me back in touch with why I wanted to create this series and pushed me to go for it. When we worked together and broke down the steps, my big idea became tangible and real. And now it’s no longer just an idea.
Before Praxis I assumed advisors were similar to my college professors and would tell me what to do. I discovered the very opposite. When I schedule with Amanda, she never tells me what to do or what might be right for me. She asks me questions that allow me to uncover what I want. I come into a call overwhelmed or lost about a goal. Then, she asks me questions about what I really what and helps me narrow down the steps I can take to get there.
3. I got my dream job working remotely. As I’ve been practicing Deep Work for sometime now, I found the constant interruption of the office made it difficult for me to focus on my programming. Yet I always assumed working remotely was only for people with years of experience. After discussing this with my advisor Amanda Kingsmith, she encouraged me to look for remote work and I ended up moving to a new job as a junior developer with the ability to work from home. This was only the start: next we worked on (and continue to work on) all the ways I can be most efficient, keep myself organized and maximize the results of my work.
Next, Amanda is helping me stay organized and efficient while I’ve been traveling for work more lately. I will also be heading to Europe in early 2018 for a company trip. As Amanda is a world traveler and also hosts an incredible podcast about traveling, she’s knowledgeable about absolutely everything I ask, because she’s done it herself. Plus–she’s an absolute blast to work with.
My Praxis advisors challenge me, support me and help me achieve my biggest goals.
Last month I went through the placement process, the period of time in which Praxis participants are placed with the startup they’ll apprentice at. During my placement process, I learned how to present myself and my skills, how to send a professional email and how to better prepare for interviews. I learned how to talk about who I am while demonstrating my excitement for a company and who they are. Above all, the most powerful thing I learned from my placement process was this:
I don’t need a degree or years of experience to get a good job.
I need to create value for a company and show it to them. That’s it.
What does this mean?
During my placement process, I found a problem on the website of the company I was interviewing with. I figured out how to solve it. I discussed with my placement specialist how I might go about communicating this to the company, and not long after I did, they offered me a position as a junior developer. It seems to make so much sense to go create value for a company you want to work for, yet we’re told to spend years waiting in school so we can receive a paper that adds no real value to any employer.
While working with my placement specialist, I learned how to stop waiting for jobs to come to me and how to just go get them. Recently when I was talking to a company about doing some part-time work for them, I realized that not only have I learned how to add value to a company, I’ve learned how to present myself and have fun during an interview. I went from feeling scared before interviews to being someone who looks forward to them and seeks them out. The opportunities I have now are endless–because I’ve learned how to create them.
If I hadn’t of joined Praxis, I would’ve joined the majority of other young people who are standing in a long line waiting for a job. They all clutch the same piece of paper and hope the golden letters on it appear to glitter enough so that employers will think it is rare and valuable.
During the Praxis placement process, I learned to skip the line, create real value and place it into the hands of the employer.
This is what’s truly rare, and this is the most powerful thing I learned during the Praxis placement process.
1) She bought Madisonkanna.com when I was 10 years old. She saw the value of having your own domain name, so she got mine to save for me for over a decade. This is just the kind of thing my mom does. For as long as I can remember, she’s been relentlessly researching new ideas, habits, and opportunities that could help better my life or add to my success and happiness.
2) She Homeschooled me while running her own company. There’s nothing I’m more grateful for than growing up as a Homeschooler. I had the freedom to discover who I was without the confinement of school. I had the freedom to curiously engage in the world around me. I also grew up watching my mom publish books, speak at conferences and build businesses. I got to help with all of these things. I got a mom who is a powerful woman, an entrepreneur, and a person with a relentless drive to learn. And somehow during everything my mom was doing, she was spending so much of her time and money Unschooling me. She spent decades of her life making sure I had a personalized hands-on education that worked for me.
3) She gave me books but never made me read. Unlike so many other kids, I was never once forced to read a book as a child. Yet I saw my mom treat bookstores as though they were magical, sacred places. I saw her spend her free time inhaling books as though they were oxygen. She always gave me new books, but never once forced me to read one. It wasn’t long before I chose to pick up some of these books, and became as enamored with them as she was. From stoicism to minimalism to meditation, my mom introduced me to the concepts and ways of thinking that bring so much joy and meaning to my life today. Through reading the books my mom gave me, I fell in love with the world.
4) She asked me why I hadn’t applied to Praxis. When I first heard of Praxis, becoming a participant sounded incredible–and scary. I followed what Praxis was doing, but I didn’t apply. Some months passed. On Thanksgiving day, after my whole family had eaten so much that we couldn’t properly walk, everyone fell upon the couch to rest–everyone except me. I grabbed my computer to check out the latest Praxis blog. It was then that my mom said, “Why haven’t you applied to Praxis?” She told me it was clear I had to apply. She was right. She said she’d support me in every way. She did. I sent in the first part of my Praxis application that night and it’s been the best decision I’ve ever made.
5) She’s my best friend, my world domination partner, my biggest supporter, and there’s no one on earth I am closer to. Happy birthday to my incredible mother.
Awhile after dropping out of college, I began telling myself that being a dropout would hold me back. That being a college graduate would’ve made me more successful. The truth is, I don’t actually believe this at all. For many, college is no longer worth it, and the evidence shows that most graduates leave college with few real skills and thus few job opportunities. I think this insistence that college still makes you more successful is a lie. I think being a dropout actually gives you far more advantages. Yet I’ve been telling myself a story about how being a dropout will hold me back. Why?
Choosing to believe a lie can push us to accomplish much more than we would otherwise.
This is talked about in Don’t Do Stuff You Hate. The book describes a time when Kevin Durant played an incredible playoff game, but his teammates performed badly and they ultimately lost. After the game, Durant says, “It’s my fault.” Was it really Durant’s fault that they lost? No, of course not. Yet Durant chooses to believe that it was. He tells himself that it is all on him, and this pushes him to work as hard as he can. He chooses to believe a lie and uses it as fuel to achieve.
I will continue creating a narrative that I’m more disadvantaged than others because of my lack of a degree. When I choose to believe this, I push myself to work harder than I ever have. I push myself to learn so much and do so much that I ‘make up’ for my lack of a degree. I figure out how I can create advantages for myself.
As Isaac Morehouse writes, “A belief that the universe is trying to destroy you is incredibly disempowering. But once you know it’s not true yet selectively choose to play as if it is you become unstoppable. You can’t be unstoppable if nothing is trying to stop you.”
I believe the lie that being a dropout is holding me back, and this pushes me forward faster than any other belief could. So what lie should you start believing?