In my internship, I’ve noticed that work and school are very different. They require very different sets of core values. School revolves around attaining a letter grade — usually an A (unless you’re really struggling in a course, then it’s all about the B+). It doesn’t matter whether a student works really hard in the course or utilizes natural intelligence to succeed. In other words, if you’re naturally smart, you can put in a minimum amount of work and still receive praise if you get the A.
Therefore, there’s an emphasis on natural intelligence over hard work. Though the latter is still important, the former is highly valued.
I’ve found the opposite to be true in the working world.
You’re not working towards an A: you’re working towards completion of projects. You’re brainstorming new projects to pile on your plate — or picking up unassigned projects. Natural intelligence may help you improve your work, but what really sets you apart is your ability to buckle down and perform work for long periods of time efficiently.
It’s the hours you spend working instead of mindlessly chatting coworkers, or the times that you finish mindless projects while mindlessly watching TV in your off hours.
While this approach differs from school, I like it more. While I consider myself intelligent (I am a Michigan grad) I like the even playing field that work provides. Now, if someone wants to be successful, they have more potential and control over their success.
So, now that I’ve typed this blog post, I really need to get back to work.