Hard to believe, but my oldest son is almost halfway through his undergraduate degree. He's a sharp, hard -working kid, albeit it's hard for me to talk to him like a kid when he towers over me by 3 or 4 inches, as he's probably 6' 2" (I gave up driving by him on the basketball court a long time ago). But this is by e-mail, and across states (He's in Oregon; I'm in CA), so I can still play The Dad.
My wisdom is based on many years of hard knocks, since I basically figured out my own path by hit and miss, following my instincts, and getting bounced around a lot like a bumper car. But one thing I believe I did right was connecting with key people along the way. I thought of these as friends, family and various contacts I could share information, problems and opportunities with. Little did I know there would be a whole cottage industry built around it years later, and it would take on a fancy name: "networking."
What I told my son could apply to anyone:
"Build your network: It’s not just knowledge and skills anymore than will get you ahead; it’s your network—friends, colleagues, former bosses, friends of
friends and your relatives—all should be considered part of your network. Your
ability to leverage this network will determine how successful you are. Read every good book you can: your knowledge will make you interesting--and attractive--to other people. These people will come in and out of your life, like fireflies. You must make an effort to stay connected to them, at least the valuable ones. Cast a wide net—you never know, it may be a “second
tier” contact who lands you a job or changes your life. But focus on the top
20%, the 80/20 rule—it’s really just a handful of people who will
ultimately shape your life.
Don't wait--start building your network now."