There are a few professional lessons I’ve picked up throughout my time in Silicon Valley. One, although considered a cliche, “your network is your net worth”. Two, “fail fast”. Three, “the answer is always no until you ask”. While some of these catchphrases have the potential to raise some C-level eyebrows, I’ve found that appropriately navigating these ideals is an effective way to position yourself in your organization.
Your network is your net worth is a concept I wasn’t initially warm to. Oftentimes, professionals tread a thin line between simply collecting connections and cultivating relationships. The latter requires patience, humility, and effort. The difference can be demonstrated by practicing meaningful conversation instead of just reaching out to another professional only when you need something. At Holberton School we impress upon our students the importance of relationships by pushing students to attend external meetups, conferences, etc. Moving things one step further, we encourage our students to meet and chat with attendees who exhibited similar interests as you; you never know when those people will be in a position to help you out either in the here and now or in the future.
Fail fast or don’t be afraid to fail. This is one of my favorite ways to learn. Failing fast provides folks with immediate feedback on their work in a way that resonates. Failing, especially at school, has gotten a bad rap. Instead of being degraded, if a Holberton Student were to fail a project, the failing grade isn’t the issue- the issue is did they leave the project not having any understanding how to complete the tasks assigned? When posed with that question
The answer is always no until you ask. I’ve found is a good way to approach any working situation whether I’m working collaboratively in a professional, or educational, setting. It’s important to remember each person you collaborate with comes into a situation with their own set of opinions on how to work most effectively together. This particular phrase extends itself further than asking a yes or no question. To me, the true meaning of this phrase is highlighting that you’ll never really know the answer to something unless you ask. At Holberton, students all participate in days during the curriculum called peer learning days, where students help each other in groups of 6-8 people to understand a new set of skills- this is a time to ask your fellow students the way they work best.
There’s a reason why some platitudes become cliches. It’s important to take a look at how these notions can shape a learning or working experience. At Holberton School, we’re proud to be cultivating well rounded full-stack software engineers by using these techniques.
This piece was sponsored by Holberton School.