I’m 18. So what? My advice for a younger self

Link: I’m 18. So what? My advice for a younger self

The following excerpt is from Jared Erondu’s “You’re Young. I’m 18. So what”.

Today’s my 18th birthday.

I’ve contemplated keeping my age a secret until I was old enough to buy someone a drink. Or at least until my age didn’t end with “teen.” That way, people would “take me seriously.” But I’ve gotten over it.

It really amazes me how much the world focuses on one’s age and degree(s). Even more so than skill and personality, the most important factors. But today, for my birthday, I’ll try to debunk the silly notion of age > skill. I’ll tell you a little story about me, who helped me grow as a writer, designer and leader, and my advice to young creatives.

Today is my 18th birthday. Just like Jared, I don’t think age should be used to judge a person. Far too often I’ve seen fantastic young designers and engineers that are afraid to go out into the world for fear of being thought of as inexperienced or “too young” to hang out with the adults. I despise the notion that because a young kid may be an especially talented programmer, they can patronized by other adults when at industry conferences or other events. This article describes just how one young designer overcame that.

Now, I think his post does a great job of giving advice. However, I have some of my own. This is the advice I wish I had given myself when I was 14.

Advice for ambitious 19 14 year olds #

  1. Build stuff. #

    If you don’t want people to judge you by your age, they will judge you by something else. Be confident about your work and have them judge you by what you create. Nobody will take notice of you if you just browse Facebook or reddit all day, so be creative and create something. It doesn’t have to be unique, it doesn’t have to be all of your own work. But keep building things, and try to make each new outcome better than the last. Show off your personal projects, put them on Github. The beauty of open-source is that you can have PhD’s in Computer Science critiquing your code, and hopefully you can learn from their advice. Staying in a closed-source bubble is not a way to improve. I can’t reiterate this enough: Stop fooling around, get out there and build something!

  2. Hang out with smart people #

    Okay, so now you have something you built. How do you get others to notice your work? Go find them. Get out in the world and make yourself known. Go to meetups, conferences, whatever. Find out what interesting things the other attendees are working on - they might give you an internship or even a full-time job. Take advantage of your resources, because it’s far too easy to pass them by. Find other young smart people, because they are far more likely to understand your potential than someone that followed the more traditional career path. Build stuff with them. Use your network to do #1 better.

  3. Stop talking/reading about doing things. Do them. #

    I’ve spent far too much time worrying about how my resume looks, what my job title should be, thinking about marketing for my fictitious companies. Forget all that. There’s no point in promoting yourself if you have nothing to promote to begin with. At the end of the day, what will matter the most is what you have accomplished. So don’t get bogged down with “Hacker News Syndrome” and dream about how great startups must be like. Go found your own startup. If it fails, great - you know what to avoid next time. If it succeeds, even better - just be careful about getting acquired by Yahoo.

###In short… Do great things and create products you are proud of. And remember: Age is just a number.

Once again, I’ve broke my record for number of consecutive days lived. Time to break it again tomorrow.

If you enjoyed this post, you can follow me on Twitter for some more advice.


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