The most important thing I learned in college.

When I went to the Rochester Institute of Technology, I took all kinds of interesting classes. I was brimming with knowledge from classes on Java programming to legislative process to the wines of the world.

But the most important thing I learned in college wasn’t how to start a method in Java or the differences between oaked and unoaked Chardonnay. I learned how to learn. I learned how much fun learning was. My intellectual curiosity was more than reinforced. It was a cultural norm amongst everyone who attended (and survived.)

In one of my classes, we had the project of learning a new programming language (or Web technology) and teaching it to the class in 2 weeks.  What?!? My partner and I showed the class how to build something in XForms.  Heh!  Oh Web technologies that no one use anymore. 🙂

In today’s technology age, things are constantly changing.  Everyday there’s something new popping up that solves a problem more effectively than what existed in the market before.   To survive, you have to be ready and willing to adapt.

A big part of my career thus far has been helping to evangelize how the different innovations can be used to help solve existing business problems.   I was just showing some colleagues the other day how to do something and they wanted to know how to do this other thing.  I think they were surprised when I said I didn’t know how.  I just hadn’t spent time to figure it out yet but left the room challenging them to jump into the unknown, try it.

Don’t let what you don’t know or haven’t experienced scare you? Life is one big ever-changing learning experience.  Embrace it.   Never stop asking questions.

I always want to be learning, growing, and being put into situations that are uncomfortable and I want to be around people the feel the same.  Otherwise, things just get boring.

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More universities should promote careers in startups

So there was a story in TechCrunch about a partner at Sequoia Capital who said that Ivy League universities should be encouraging more of their students to go to startups. Students go to large companies because that’s what you do. It’s what everyone does.

I didn’t go to one of the Ivy’s. I went to the Rochester Institute of Technology and I completely relate. Startups were never talked about. Everyone talked about wanting to go work for Google, Microsoft, or IBM and that’s what most of us did.

It’s funny. I’ve gotten together with friends who graduated around the same time I did and got to startups one way or another. The resounding opinion was, why didn’t someone tell us about how much fun startups are?

If more of us would have known, I think we would have been launching businesses in our college dorm rooms.

Start Thinking About Your Personal Brand Early… Even in College

This weekend I had the pleasure of hanging out with some awesome RIT students and alumni at BarCampRochester3.  I led a discussion on widgets and the social aggregator.  Clearspring was also one of the sponsors.

I had a fantastic time.  Kudos to the organizers.  Word is they’re going to try and do 2 BarCamps next year.  That’s awesome!!!!!!!!

Not to sound like the all knowing college graduate but if I could impart just one piece of wisdom to folks who are currently in college it’d be to start thinking earlier about your personal brand.

There is a “global neighborhood” out there that is discussing the same ideas that you’re into.  Get out there and join the conversation.

When you’re in college, it’s super easy to think that it is your world.  College can feel very insular.  Before too long you have to get out in the world and your voice competes with the rest of the world.

So… some practical tips:

Go to Vista Print or if you’re a hipster MooCards and get some business cards. Everytime you meet someone, it’s the opportunity to start a new relationship and having sometype of way to connect with eachother at a later date is SUPER important.

Start a blog.  I think it’s the best way to join in the on going conversation that’s happening.  Personal Web sites are becoming part of your personal identity.  They represent you just as much as how you dress for an interview.

Seek out people outside of your university who’re in your industry. Go to something like a Meetup.com or go find a business leader that you respect and talk to them.  The more you make the connections and the relationships outside of your university early the better off you’ll be after you graduate.

Help geeks find God by supporting Kim Diebolt at RIT

During my tenure at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), while getting my undergraduate degree, I was stretched physically, mentally, and emotionally due to the intense nature of the academic load that was thrusted upon me. One of the things that got me through college was the community that I surrounded myself with.

One of the primary sources of that community for me was the RIT chapter of Campus Crusade for Christ. It was a group of 30 to 40 college students who were also walking through the academic trenches but had a common Christian faith. When our noses weren’t in the books or in front of our computers, we spent time together supporting each other and showing the love of God to one another. It was exciting community to be a part and watch grow.

One of my best friends Kim Diebolt is a very talented photographer and graduated at the same time I did. Last year, instead of going on to what I’m sure would be an illustrious photography career, she decided to stay RIT as an intern for the RIT chapter of Campus Crusade for Christ.

It was fun over the course of the year to hear from her about all of the incredible stories that were coming from what the RIT Campus Crusade for Christ chapter was doing.

Again this year, as a part of this incredible leap of faith, she has to raise her own salary for the year. It’s something I’m not sure i’d have the faith to do. She is currently in the process of finding donors.

I don’t post about these kind of things often here but I figured I’d ask because this is a cause which I’m passionate about and it has helped me personally. Would any of you be interested in supporting Kim Diebolt and her mission of serving the students at the Rochester Institute of Technology through Campus Crusade for Christ???

If so, go here – www.give.ccci.org/give/0583760

Her mission is a cause that I’m proud to support. Would any of you be willing to join me? Even if its just $20, that’d rock! That’s skipping a weeks worth of lattes at Starbucks.

Even if you’re not Christian, this group will help to get geeks in college out of their dorm rooms to do fun social things. This is a good thing.

I appreciate you all of your for reading this blog and this post. If you have any questions, please get in contact with me or send Kim an e-mail at Kimberly DOT Diebolt AT uscm DOT org .