Tag Archives: college

Commencement Speech by Jeff Bezos

3 Aug

I came across this Graduation Speeh today on TED, by Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon. The whole speech is wonderful, but the end (pasted below) really struck me.  I think these are important questions to ask yourself at any point of your life.

How will you use your gifts? What choices will you make?

Will inertia be your guide, or will you follow your passions?

Will you follow dogma, or will you be original?

Will you choose a life of ease, or a life of service and adventure?

Will you wilt under criticism, or will you follow your convictions?

Will you bluff it out when you’re wrong, or will you apologize?

Will you guard your heart against rejection, or will you act when you fall in love?

Will you play it safe, or will you be a little bit swashbuckling?

When it’s tough, will you give up, or will you be relentless?

Will you be a cynic, or will you be a builder?

Will you be clever at the expense of others, or will you be kind?

I will hazard a prediction. When you are 80 years old, and in a quiet moment of reflection narrating for only yourself the most personal version of your life story, the telling that will be most compact and meaningful will be the series of choices you have made. In the end, we are our choices. Build yourself a great story.


An Electric Idea

7 Jul

A friend of mine Stephan always had the entrepreneurial spirit bursting inside him. Despite his degree from UCLA, his MS from Stanford and a very high paying job, he was always calculating some exciting projects on the side.  His current endeavor,  Scroller Bikes is something he cooked up with a close friend of his. Below he gave us an insightful look at how he found a need and took a risk.

Shortly after graduating from Stanford, I returned back to to L.A. from San Francisco. One of my close friends from my UCLA years, told me about electric bikes he had seen during his travels through China. After doing some research and checking on legalities, we realized that electric bikes would be ideal for the congested southern California’s beach communities. We also thought they would be perfect for the overcrowded LA campuses such as UCLA or Santa Monica College.

My friend Robin always had a passion for motorcycles and had been riding since he was a  kid, and I over the years had developed an interest in green technology, so both of us had a natural interest in the bikes.

As both of us were just starting our professional careers and had intentions to getting into the business world, it seemed to be an interesting and fun project and an opportunity to create something that could actually make a difference. Our goal was to create the best looking and most user-friendly electric bike that would satisfy the needs of many user groups. (students, LA tourists, surfers, short distance commuters)

We started our business out of our garage in Hermosa Beach. We started working on our website, pictures, promotional material, did mechanical work and repairs. Things were not easy initially and we had many quality and communication issues with our Asian manufacturers. However, we were able to make it through the difficulties, probably because we were passionate about a product we had created and believed in. This was different from work you would perform at a regular job just to satisfied the management’s need.

Despite all the problems and issues we had, it was encouraging to see the customer’s positive feedback after their purchase. Now, after having sold a couple of shipments of Scrollers we are getting ready for a trip to China to work on an upgrade to make the bike even better than before. We are about to take another risk and make a bigger investment into this project.

Both of us will be starting our MBA studies in Los Angeles this coming fall.  We are not sure exactly how we will be able to continue this start up parallel to the school load, but for now we are just approaching the next challenge and are excited to see what the future will bring.

A little about the Scroller bike itself:

The Scroller is fully electric and does not produce any emission. It can be recharged at a regular power outlet and lasts for about 20-25 miles per charge. The Scroller is really easy to use (not much harder than a regular bicycle). It does not require a license, registration or insurance to operate, since it is classified as a motorized bicycle.

Check out the website of Scroller Electric Bikes to find more information, videos and pictures of the bike.

Thanks Stephan for your inspiration!

Real Life 101

6 Feb


I came across this link today that I couldn’t resist sharing. Now let’s just hope this link somehow lands on the desk of college administrators and inspires them to have courses that are applicable to the real world. (Although memorizing 200 notecards while munching on Cheetos, downing a coke and dreaming about the weekend DID teach me how to multi-task)

[Come across Links you think our readers would enjoy? Send them over to themadgrad@gmail.com]

Some Lessons I’ve Learned Along The Way..

29 Dec

I’ve been thinking a lot lately, about what I’ve learned since Graduating in 2007. As I’m turning 25 next week (eek!) and in a new job, I’ve realized how much I’ve learned about myself and my career in just a few years. I’ve been a Case Assistant at a law Firm, a project manager at an online design company, an executive Assistant for a Virtual world company, and am now doing Recruiting for a large search engine company. I know what you’re thinking- this girl has Major job ADD. But honestly, I wouldn’t trade any of these jobs for the world (as miserable as some of them were). I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for the mistakes, successes and lessons I’ve learned along the way.

If a new graduate asked me what I know now that I didn’t then, here’s what I’d tell them:

You will never be good at a job you hate. Maybe it pays well, you get overtime, a new car and a bonus but if you don’t like it, you aren’t going to do well. Of course, you should always give your all to any job you have, but you aren’t going to perform as well as someone who really loves it. If the passion and drive isn’t there, it will show in your work no matter how much you try to hide it.

It’s okay to leave if you aren’t happy. My first job after college, I worked in a supply closet with files literally barricading my desk, and attorneys screaming in my face if something wasn’t done in 15 seconds. After 6 months of being there, I knew I wanted to leave, but was torn because everyone told me to stay at a job at least a year. If you give yourself adequate time to make sure it isn’t for you, can explain to future employers the reason behind you leaving, and make sure to leave on good terms with your boss no matter what, there’s no reason to stay at a job you are miserable with. It’s better to get back on track to a field you are interested in, and leave while you are on good terms before your unhappiness interferes with your work performance.

Don’t be taken advantage of. Even if you have the same position as another coworker, if you don’t set your boundaries immediately, your best friend will be the copy machine and your work will falter as you struggle to manage your work and that of others. You want to be there for coworkers when they need help, because that’s what makes great companies, and there’s a 150 percent chance you’ll need their help in the future. But be sure to be on the lookout for people taking advantage of your lack of experience, and don’t be afraid to say no. This also applies to situations where your boss is taking advantage of you. Are you working incredibly long hours, and running errands not in your job description, when you are getting paid way under market? If so, be honest with them and stick up for yourself or this pattern will repeat itself for your entire time there.

Don’t make money your only incentive. At the job I have now, I took a huge pay cut.  The reason? I knew that while I’m making a lot less at this job, it will lead to more money in the long-run as it’s the field I want to be in, an incredible company and I’m learning a lot. The high pay was the biggest incentive for me to take the assistant job, but this was not worth it as I wasn’t happy or had passion for what I was doing.  Don’t get me wrong, you should not settle for lower pay than you deserve, but money should not be the primary factor in taking a job. In fact, I’ve spoken with a lot of people who have taken a job strictly for pay and regretted it, but haven’t talked to anyone who took lower pay for a job they really loved and regretted it.

First impressions matter: At my last job, one of the recent grads who started would always respond to the exec’s requests within 2 seconds to beat everyone, and stay 5 hours longer to ensure she scheduled more meetings than her coworkers. She ended up making mistakes because she took on more than she could handle, and although these mistakes were small it was hard to gain the respect back from the execs and coworkers. You want to show up to work on time, push yourself and give the job your all, without being the annoying eager beaver and biting off more than you can chew. It’s better to do less work with no mistakes while you learn the ropes, then to take on too much and mess up.

Don’t act your age. I know I know, you are 21, your favorite night to go out is Thursdays, and you can’t sleep before 4am. But chances are your older coworkers will not be sympathetic to the one too many beers you had. Also remember that it’s always important to ask questions if you do not know what you are doing, but make sure to phrase it in the best way possible. Instead of saying ” hey how the heck do I use the fax machine? The person at the school library did it for me.” Say “I haven’t used this particular fax machine before, would you mind showing me how when you have the chance today so I will know in the future?” Even if you work in a relaxed environment, it never hurts to dress up in a way that makes you look mature and put together.

Always leave on good terms: No matter how much you dislike your boss, your coworkers or company, make sure to leave on good terms. Always check in every now and then with them- send an email, a text a Christmas card just make sure to keep in touch. Even if you live in China and they live in the US, employers do rigorous background checks these days and it’s very important to be on good terms with everyone you encounter. Think you are off the hook despite treating your lab partner poorly Freshman year? Lots of companies check with other coworkers that attended the same school as you for their opinion before hiring, so be careful not to burn your bridges.

Become an online mentor for high school students

16 Jan


One of our favorite bloggers, Quarterlifelady works for an organization that has just started an awesome online career mentoring program. The program gives working professionals and grad students a chance to share what they have learned in highschool, college and post college experience with highschool students. After signing up (which takes 5 minutes), you go through a brief online training, complete a profile, pass security clearances and then complete 10 online activities that can be used with the mentees.

Once you are matched, you send one or two emails a week (about 30 minutes total) for 10 weeks on a variety of specified career topics. None of your personal information is shared, the work is minimal, but the impact you have is tremendous.

Looking back to highschool there is so much I wish I knew an had done differently that impacts me even today. Email Akirah at quarterlifelady@gmail.com. if you have any questions, or sign up today here. Under the “How did you hear about us” be sure to type in “Akirah” so they have a reference.

Great Resource For College Students and Recent Grads

8 Jan


One of my favorite bloggers and career coaches, Lindsey Pollak, has joined ABC News On Campus to answer your career questions. Every month, she’ll be answering readers’ career related questions, on a variety of topics, from searching for a job in a new city to finding a job in these difficult times. It is an excellent resource not only for college students, but for recent graduates as well. I will definitely be checking in monthly for her advice. You can submit a question here, or read her first batch of answers.

Following The Mad Grad on Twitter

14 Nov

Hello fellow Mad Grad-ers you can now follow us on Twitter to see what we are up to!


Have a Happy Friday!

What I Wish I Knew In College

6 Nov


Your grades do matter: Most companies won’t ask for your GPA (unless of course you’re applying for Google or Facebook). But if you eventually decide to go back to Grad School, that C- in statistics may come back to haunt you. 

Get Involved: Although clubs and volunteering may seem soo highschool, this will give you experience for your future career or improve your grad school application. What employer wouldn’t be impressed by the President of the Red Cross, or someone who was proactive enough to start their own club? It’s also a great way to meet new friends and help out your community.

Take classes that really interest you: It may be hard to imagine at the time, but after college, you’re going to really miss learning. There are so many more classes I wish I had taken for the sake of learning instead of just getting credit towards my degree. 

Choose a major that you love: You’ll find once you start interviewing, that most majors prepare you in someway for whatever job you are applying for. Instead of choosing a major because you think it will look better on paper, or impress an employer, choose a major that you are genuinely interested in. If your job requires a specific major, choose a fun minor. 

Get Experience: In college, I was pretty sure that when I graduated, employers would be sympathetic to my lack of experience. After all, I was a college student with little time to study for all of my classes let alone work! But I quickly found out that this was not so, and employers do expect you to have experience immediately after graduation.  Internships are the best way to get experience and have a job ready for you after graduation. Most internships are only offered for college credit, or are difficult to take after college when you need a steady income. Take advantage of the experience and networking which internships offer.

Watch your credit: Between parting, studying and going to the beach, the last thing on my mind in College was my credit score. However, after graduating and looking for houses, the late payments came back to haunt me. Every landlord does Credit checks, and it can be very difficult to get an apartment with a low credit score (especially if moving to a big city). No matter how busy you are, never neglect to check your bank account and avoid overdraft charges and late payments.

Care About Politics: It wasn’t until I graduated and moved to San Francisco, that I really started caring about who I voted for and the propositions. However, after seeing the huge impact the youth vote had on this election, it is extremely important to start caring as soon as you can vote. The elections impact college students tremendously from college loans, parental notification for abortions, military service and community college board members. 

Limit Your Alcohol Consumption: Although you may have the mentality that you won’t drink like you do after college, the effects from binge drinking can last a lifetime. Over-drinking can lead to poor decisions and regrets that will last long after college. Have fun and enjoy a drink or two, but don’t start poor drinking habits that will carry with you after. 

Cherish Your Friendships: After college, it’s hard to stay in touch with friends. You move back home to different states and countries, and have different schedules that make it hard to stay connected. Spend as much time as you can with your friends, before they are a plane ride, or time zone away. 

It’s okay to move home after Graduation: In college, I couldn’t imagine how or why anyone would move back home with their parents after living independently for four years. All I could think of was the image of Will Ferrell in Wedding Crashers screaming “Mom, the Meatloaf!” Little did I know, that I would be moving home after Graduation, along with 95 percent my friends. Most people don’t have the money or career immediately after graduating to move straight into their own apartment. Moving home temporarily is a great way to acclimate to your new lifestyle and save money while finding a job. 

Practice Good Habits: Without Mom there to scream at you, it’s tempting not to leave your room in shambles, drink straight from the Milk Carton, and sleep until noon. However, the habits you practice during college, will carry with you after you graduate. Cleaning, taking care of your health and practicing a regular sleep schedule will start to come naturally if you do these things regularly (and make you a better roommate).

Enjoy every minute of it: As Tom Petty said, “Work never ends but college does.” While college may be a blast, you never really appreciate it until you start your 9-5 job and feel guilty staying out past 11pm. Savor the ability to sleep in on a Wednesday, or go drinking with friends on a Tuesday, because you’ll miss it later. I know I do!

What do you wish you knew in college?

Why Your Major is Minor

15 Aug

I remember several times in college asking myself, “Did I choose the right major? Is it too late to switch?” I was constantly worried about this because I was pretty sure that my major would play a huge if not main role in my future career. After-all, the first thing every interviewer would ask is “What college I went to” and my Major and minor, right? Wrong!!

In the many interviews I have had since graduation, I’ve found 2 things to be of far more interest to the employer than your major: Experience and Personality. Coming directly out of college, you may think that employers do not expect you to have work experience but it is quite the opposite. You won’t qualify for the 5-10 years of experience positions, however internships and any work experience you have is essential for a career right out of college.  Most Employers have been in the same torn up converse you have and know how it can be a challenge to juggle work with school. However entering the workplace with any part time positions, internships and portfolio work immediately qualifies you for some great jobs.

If you were a bio-chemistry major with not enough time to eat in college let alone work, what you lack in experience you can make up with in personality. If you go into the interview with a positive can-do attitude and relate school or classes and brief work to the position you are applying for, that will make you a valuable candidate for their company. Would you rather hire someone with less experience but with ambition and a positive attitude or someone who has a year plus experience but lacks drive and energy?

Instead of worrying over your major, choose something you love that will get you great recommendations from faculty and time to really explore what you are passionate about in both work and school. In the end, It’s personality and experience that will land you that entry level position you have always dreamed of.

How life Changes after College

31 Jul

This was sent to a friend by a co-worked and forwarded to me. It is funny, but at the same time symbolic because its crazy to think how much your lifestyle and the things you believe in can change in such a short amount of time. Remember you are growing up and changing but still so young and this is the time of our life where we are allowed to have fun, party and be selfish, because someday it will all be different and you don’t want to look back with any regrets. 

You don’t know what time Taco Bell closes anymore.

Your potted plants stay alive.

Shacking in a twin-sized bed seems absurd.

You keep more food than beer in the fridge.

You have to pay your own credit card bill.

You haven’t seen a soap opera in over a year.

8:00 a.m. is not early.

You have to file your own taxes.

You hear your favorite song on the elevator at work.

You’re not carded anymore.

You carry an umbrella.

Your friends marry and divorce instead of hook-up and break-up.

You start watching the Weather Channel.

Jeans and baseball caps aren’t staples in your wardrobe.

You can no longer take shots, and smoking gives you a sinus attack.

You go from 130 days of vacation time to 7.

You go to parties that the police don’t raid.

Adults feel comfortable telling jokes about sex in front of you.

Your car insurance goes down, except when you move to Jersey.

You refer to college students as kids.

You drink wine, scotch and martinis instead of beer, bourbon, and rum. Well, some of us still drink rum.

You feed your dog Science Diet instead of Taco Bell.

You’re waking up at 6 a.m. instead of going to bed.

College sweatshirts are ‘casual’ instead of dress up.

Sleeping on the couch is a no-no.

Naps are no longer available between noon and 6 p.m.

Dinner and a movie — the whole date instead of the beginning of one.

You get your news from sources other than USA Today, ESPN Sportscenter, and MTV News.


Wine appreciation expands beyond Boone’s and Mad Dog.

You actually eat breakfast foods at breakfast time.

Grocery lists actually contain relatively healthy food.

When drinking, you say at least once per night, “I just can’t put it down like I used to.”

Golf is beginning to seem a lot less silly.

You decide your parents weren’t as dumb as you thought!

Remember “Growing up is after all only the understanding that one’s unique and incredible experience is what everyone shares.”
— Doris Lessing