Kyle Winey moved to northern Virginia to attend George Mason School of Law after studying business at Penn State. A pretty typical move. However, for Winey it was a bit of a Hail Mary.
"Following my graduation from Penn State I enrolled in law school, mainly because I didn't want to be unemployed after college," Winey said in an interview with the Times-Mirror. "Halfway through my college career, the Great Recession struck. I witnessed an already limited job pool shrivel to almost nothing. I studied even harder. Although I was previously scoring 3.70 - 3.90 GPAs and making Dean's List every semester, I decided those grades were no longer good enough. In the wake of increasingly limited job prospects, I needed perfection. I was determined to get it. And I did. Junior year I started landing 4.0s every semester."
Winey graduated at the top of his class. But there were still no job prospects for him in his field, so he decided on law school. Again he was determined to achieve perfection in his studies, despite the inevitable burn-out he felt while doing so. He described a chat he had with an old fraternity brother that was his "a-ha!" moment.
"My fraternity brother was one of the biggest slackers I knew in college. However, during my junior year, he interned at one of the elite investment banks on Wall Street, where he eventually worked following graduation. Although Wall Street receives a lot of much-deserved flack, that's where nearly every ambitious business student wants to work. I was no different. But landing on Wall Street is highly competitive and not many make it. You would think that I, not my fraternity brother, would be the one working on Wall Street. But he was a pure genius at identifying what he needed to do at college—not much— and what he didn't need to do—most things— in order to achieve precisely what he wanted."
It's that "achieve more by doing less" approach that is the root of Winey's new book, "Hackiversity."
"A new toolkit is needed in this new economy ... I did not take an 'achieve more by doing less' approach to college. And that's what got me into trouble. Instead, at I was purely focused on my effort, not the results of my effort. That's backwards."
What matters most for students, Winey said, is knowing what they want and focusing on what can get them there, through internships, networking, and developing the essential skills that Winey calls the "three Cs:" communication, collaboration, and creative problem solving.
Winey outlines how students can best develop these skills and "hack" their experience. For communication, students "must be able to write and speak publicly," and they can practice by blogging, publishing newspaper articles and holding leadership positions on campus and in their communities. Leadership positions also help with the second "C," collaboration.
"Employers want to see that students can work on teams. Even more important, employers want to see that students can lead teams."
As for the third "C," creative problem solving, Winey explains that there is less value in "knowing" information. Simply being able to recall facts and figures has little value. Instead, students need to be able to apply this information and what they know when they enter the workforce.
Winey, an attorney with Simms Showers in Leesburg, draws form his own experience and mistakes he made during his academic career, and he also interviewed 44 recent grads who shared their own advice on how to get the most out of college. Now, Winey is working to share the idea of "Hackiversity" to as many upcoming and currently enrolled college students as he can through podcasting and social media. Beyond that, he wants to build a platform where students can access relevant college advice that fits in with the idea of a new toolkit for the new economy and job market.
"Think a career services department that actually works."
"Hackiversity" is currently available on Amazon.com.
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