Anyone heard on ComicCon? Okay, think ComicCon, but instead of super heroes think super students. I’m describing ScholarCon, an annual 4-day event by the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, which brings the best and brightest students together to discuss how to achieve their goals after college in this new, entrepreneurial, social media, and tech-driven environment.

This year, the ForCollegeForLife team, of which I’m a member, was invited to speak alongside leading voices in higher-education, best selling writers, CEOs, entrepreneurs, activists, an A-List entertainer, and yes, an Intern Queen.

The event proved to be much more than an opportunity to flex my speaking chops and spread GenYize’s message. I was blown away by the education I received in just 4 days time.

Reflecting back, I can’t let this information fall on deaf years. Below I’ve penned my Top 5 Takeaways from #ScholarCon2015. Click for more on National Society of Collegiate Scholars

Takeaway 1: Jess Ekstrom – You’re never too young to start a business.

At 23 years old, Jess Ekstrom is proof that age shouldn’t stop you from starting a business. In fact, she says her age worked to her advantage. While a junior in college, Jess started Head Bands of Hope, to help brighten the lives of kids with cancer. Jess says she didn't have a business degree. She didn't know how to manufacture a product. She just had an idea and the passion behind it. 

Since April 2012, Head Bands of Hope has donated headbands to every children's hospital in the United States. They’ve even started a boy’s line of buffs so we can help all kids at the hospitals.

So, if you’re thinking of starting a business, Jess advises to stop thinking, and start doing. Utilize the resources college has to offer. Click for more on Jess and Head Bands of Hope

Takeaway 2: Kal Penn – Reject Conventional Wisdom.

Kal Penn doesn’t need an introduction. But for those who don’t know, Kal Penn is an A-list film and television actor whose stared movies such as “Harold and Kumar go to White Castle,” “National Lampoon’s Van Wilder,” “24”, and “House,”to name a few.

Naturally, I jumped at the chance to hear him speak. In his lecture, he shared his life story. It went something like this: boy attends performing arts school in New Jersey, graduates and moves to Los Angeles to attend UCLA, struggles to land acting gigs, lands his first major acting role, becomes an A-lister, leaves la-la land for Washington, D.C. and becomes the Associate Director of Public Engagement for the White House. Phew, that was a mouthful.

While his story is inspiring in itself, what stuck with me, came during the Q&A session. Penn was asked by an audience member to pinpoint what lead to his success. Penn answered the question simply, "I rejected conventional wisdom."   

According to Penn, a perfect example is when he decided to leave acting to work for the White House. A million thoughts went through his head, Would he be accepted in Washington? How would the acting community view him? Would he able to impact the people he was serving? And then there were comments from friends and colleagues.  

He didn’t give the voices the power. He went for it. It wasn’t easy he says, but the outcome far outweighed the discomfort he felt along the way. Click for more on Kal Penn.

Takeaway 3: Lauren Berger - Ralph Called Taylor A Flirt.

Lauren Berger is the Intern Queen. And when I say Intern Queen, at the end of 4 years of college Lauren completed 15, yes, 15 internships. Today she is the CEO and Founder of Intern Queen Inc., an online destination that connect students to internships while educating them on how to build and maintain professional relationships.

While Lauren’s boot-camp was chock full of eye opening wisdom, I found her directive on How to Rock Your Internship extremely insightful.

To Rock Your Internship, Lauren says it’s simple. Just remember the acronym, Ralph Called Taylor A Flirt.  

Ralph - Recognize a professional contact. An internship isn’t just about the job you’ve been hired to do. It’s also about laying the foundation for full-time employment. She suggests to ALWAYS keep your eye open for professional connections. And once you find them, don’t be afraid to ask them to coffee or schedule an informational meeting. 

Called - Connect. After the meeting, Lauren says respond quickly with a thank you email and include a brief synopsis of your conversation. Should you contact them again, they will have a paper trail of your conversation.

Taylor -Track your contacts. You’ve worked hard to land these professional connections, so now what? Lauren says not to let them out of your sight. She suggests using Google Alerts. Google alerts will notify you when information on the individual is published on the web. 

A -Add value. Maintaining a relationship requires give and take. From this point, you’ve been taking. Its time for you to give a little says Lauren. Look for opportunities to add value to the relationship. Lauren suggests sending contacts industry relevant articles.

Flirt -Follow-up at least 3 times per year. If you send too many emails, you’re stamped a stalker. Too little, you’re forgotten. Lauren says 3 is the magic number when it comes to keeping in touch. Click for more on Lauren Berger, The Intern Queen

Takeaway 4: Holly Pilcavage -The ICE Method: Find Inspiration. Create Opportunities. Empower others.

Holly Pilcavage is the Founder of Project Wednesday, a weekly newsletter that challenges people to find inspiration, create opportunities, and empower others. Since it's launch in 2014, Holly and the Project Wednesday Empowerment Squad has turned Wednesday's into a day of self-empowerment nationwide. 

Holly's lecture drew from her life experiences and work at Project Wednesday. Though what stood out to me was the founding principles behind Project Wednesday: find inspiration, create opportunities, empower others.

Holly says her success came because she followed her passion and shared that passion with others. Following ICE she says people can design a peaceful, more fulfilling life and career. So stop what your doing, she says and ask yourself are you following your passion? If the answer is no, create the things you wish existed and share that creation with others. Signup to get Project Wednesday delivered to your inbox

Takeaway 5: Casey Cornelius – To reach your goals, make one better choice each day

Casey Cornelius Headshot.jpg

Casey Cornelius is our fearless leader of the ForCollegeForLife team. He’s also an accomplished public speaker and soon to be author of “The Freshman 15 that Really Matter”.

His message is probably one of the most important and why I saved it for last. Casey suggests many of us fall short of reaching our goals because we get distracted by our daily lives and forget to take the necessary steps to reach them. 

So what if we each pledged to make one better choice each day asked Casey.

Casey says, let’s say you set a goal this year to run a marathon. For most, this isn’t something you can do by rolling out of bed and throwing on your shoes. It involves months of preparation, training, and making a series of choices, which produce the momentum needed to meet that goal. You will need to develop the types of habits, which will allow you to run 26.2 miles. 

Casey suggests writing down your short term and long-term goals and outlining of the steps you need to take to get there. With each step you make Casey says you’ll be that much closer to achieving your goals. Click to read the entire One Better Choice Series

Take Action

As you move into the 2015-2016 school year, I encourage you to remember the following: 

  • Reject Conventional Wisdom
  • Reach your Goals by making One Better Choice each day 
  • You're never too young to start a business
  • Rock your internship by following this directive Ralph Called Taylor A Flirt
  • Find Inspiration. Create Opportunities. Empower Others. 

For more information about the topic discuss above, connect w/ one of the #ScholarCon2015 speakers below.