Former student reveals the lessons college never taught him
By Vivian Nguyen
Northwest Asian Weekly
Does college really prepare students for the real world?
General education courses are a requirement for all undergraduate students. They vary in subjects, from arts to sciences to assorted electives.
However, according to inspirational college speaker and author Hoan Do, general education classes don’t offer practical knowledge for life beyond the classroom, nor do they offer information that young people need to transition into adulthood.
Do hopes to provide this information in his book, “Succeeding in the Real World: What School Won’t Teach You.”
“I wish this was something I had in school,” said Do, referring to his book. Specifically aimed toward college students, the book covers topics such as attitude, time management, and life. “I wish I had all the information that I know now when I was younger — that’s the reason why I wrote it.”
“I still make mistakes,” Do continued. “And even now at age 23 and a recent 2007 graduate, I’m still a young person. Going through the real world myself, I can relate to students in school. I know what they’re going through.”
When Do was an economics major at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., he initially struggled with his identity within his area of study. In business calculus class one day, he questioned whether he would ever use his formal education in life.
“As a college student, the stress of dealing with roommates you don’t get along with to deciding what to major in and finding a general purpose in life can be tough,” said Do. “So I decided that if I’m not learning what I need to in order to succeed in life, I was going to teach myself.”
Through the guidance of good friends, Do sought self-help books that focused on communication and goal-setting, which developed his interest in connecting with people. These books inspired Do to create a balance between academics and personal time for the remainder of his college career.
Influenced by inspirational speaker Tony Robbins’ “Get the Edge” CD program, Do started to attend Robbins’ international conferences, networking with people twice his age from various vocational fields.
After Do graduated, he used his newfound knowledge and perspective to land a consultant speaker position under Tony Robbins. Do went on to conduct numerous training sessions for corporate audiences, giving talks on both professional and personal matters.
However, despite all his success, Do does face obstacles in his career. “The main disadvantage [in my work] is my age,” he said.
“People often ask, ‘Why should I listen to you? You’re so young!’ The unique thing is that I don’t need to prove myself. I tell people that I don’t know everything, but this is what I do know. I back up my talks with genuine life experiences instead of hypothetical concepts. And people are surprised that they can relate.”
As a child of immigrant parents, Do understands the need for young Asian Americans to fight for their passions. “I think it’s really tough for Asian Americans to pursue careers that are against the norm. And this is hard when you have first-generation parents telling you to ‘do this, do that.’ … For me, it’s breaking that mold, so I hope I can inspire other people like me.”
“But you need to want to do it and be what you want,” Do emphasized. “It’s tough to balance the two, but what I found is that Asian parents have been more open to it — being supportive. … They just want their child to be happy. That’s all my parents want for me.”
Most importantly, Do advises college students to take on responsibilities during school in preparation for the real world. “For a lot of students, entering the workforce can be a culture shock,” he said.
He recommends that students be proactive with their time in school. He says they should get hands-on experience prior to graduating by interning for a company or attending a professional event with older people.
Do hopes that his upcoming book launch will also empower young people with additional information for adulthood. The interactive event will be held in June in Kane Hall at the University of Washington. He plans to share practical advice for landing that first job after graduation.
When asked about making a difference in the world, Do said that everyone has a part to play.
“I truly believe everyone has a gift to share, and by not sharing, you do a disservice to people,” said Do.
“All I focus on when I connect with someone is to find what their passion is and what I can do to help them. I want people to know that I care for them. But most importantly, I want people to know that I’ll be the one there to believe in them when no one else does.” ♦
Hoan Do will speak in Kane Hall at the University of Washington on June 4, from 6:30–9 p.m. For more information, call 206-257-9515 or visit www.succeedingintherealworld.com.
The Vietnamese translation of this story appeared in Nguoi Viet Tay Bac newspaper.
Vivian Nguyen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.