The Difference Between Movement and Progress

The following is my perspective on (what I believe to be) the biggest problem with students at Haas.

At Haas, we don’t seem to understand the difference between movement and progress.

I’ll explain. Imagine you are hiking up a mountain. If your strategy to get to the top of this mountain was to simply move, well then you’d have a lot of options. You could zig-zag up the mountain, you could crawl, you could roll, you could walk on your hands. Maybe if you waved your arms in the sky, someone flying a helicopter would see you and offer you a ride to the top. Or perhaps you could Zumba your way up the mountain; we can get creative here.

My point is that by simply moving, you could potentially be expending an enormous amount of energy doing absolutely nothing. You are not making any progress. For my finance geeks out there, your progress to energy ratio is 0.

On the other hand, to make progress up this mountain, you would probably follow some path or trail, or carve out your own, and soon you would be at the top.

Too often at Haas, we believe that by doing as much as possible, we are making progress. By being the VP of (insert random department) in 3 clubs, participating in 4 case competitions, teaching a DeCal, and taking 20 units, we are accomplishing something…right?

*inhale* Wrong.

To be fair, it’s not entirely our fault. We were conditioned to be this way. In high school, in order to stand out among our peers, we participated in a bunch of extracurriculars, we took on any leadership position we could find, we took a plethora of random honors and AP classes to boost our GPAs. In millennial speak, we were “doin’ too much”.

In order to get into Haas, we did the same thing, joining clubs and doing nearly everything we could to make it clear to the admissions officers that we were all business. And therefore, for almost our entire lives, we have been frantically adding as many different lines to our resume as possible.

Stop. Instead of running around trying to pick up every penny you find, now is the time to walk with a little bit of purpose towards the bank.

In order to make progress in your career, or in your life, I believe that you must have some sort of direction. Time is the most valuable currency you have, and you should devote your time to things that will help you progress, rather than just filling up your time with movement.

If you are interested in marketing, then find marketing internships; start a business and try to market your product; find ways to market yourself better by networking. If you get an opportunity to participate in a finance case competition, or to be the VP of Food and Beverages or Secretary of Club Apparel in some random organization – say no if that isn’t the direction that you want to go. Be patient and find the best opportunities. Be judicious with the opportunities that you accept, as well as with the ones that you deny. Have some sort of plan in the back of your mind. I believe it is more impressive to have a few meaningful, committed experiences in roles related to your interests, rather than a laundry list of meaningless positions.

This not only helps your story when you are interviewing, as well as the flow of your resume; it also gives you a lot more free time. Use that free time to go do something worthwhile and something that could help you make progress in your personal life, like learning how to surf, playing guitar, or maybe even socializing.

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