Editor’s note: this reflection piece originally appeared on Margot’s personal blog, margotlee.com.
I’m a student now and I hope I will be for the rest of my life, and this is why.
This week I’m on a #TechTrek trip to Chicago with my minor school at Syracuse University (School of Information Studies). We’ve been visiting tech businesses from recent startups to very established companies (i.e. Facebook and Google), observing their culture, listening to their stories, and understanding what it really is like to work in the “Windy City”.
I’ve always looked up to my parents for always being open to learning, and encouraging my brothers and I to do the same whether we were brought to museums, lectures, or simply taught to appreciate school and formal education. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but it wasn’t until this Chicago trip hearing the same thing from CEOs and entrepreneurs that I really took this advice to heart.
Learning is so much more than appreciating a formal education or studying late into the night. Learning is having a growth mindset. This idea (explained more in the book Mindset by Carol Dweck, which is on the top of my list for the second I get back home) is one where brains and talent is only the starting points for great accomplishments. It promotes the idea that through practice, resilience, openness, and dedication, one can achieve almost anything they set their mind to. This trip, I was lucky enough to see that this too-good-to-be-true scenario is a reality in the exciting companies we have visited thus far.
Presidents, CEOs, and recent additions to incredible companies have all been pushing this idea on us – if you are open to learning and have a malleable mindset, there is no reason you can’t get to a certain position or goal (and in most cases you can learn what that goal may be through having a growth mindset). There were countless people we encountered that came into the industry with little to no background tech knowledge and are now thriving in an environment they may have never thought they would fit into.
Coming from someone (me) who doesn’t know the direction they’ll be headed in, the most important take away I’ve gotten up to this point in this trip is to learn how to be a better learner and embrace that side of me. If I want to be successful and lead an interesting life, I need to constantly be open for new opportunities and lessons from sometimes the most unpredictable teachers or curveballs.