What College Students Need for Long-Term Success

A 4.0 GPA doesn't guarantee success in business. Develop these four types of "capital" to take control of your future and your career.
Founding Partner, New Higher
December 05, 2012

Today, even a 4.0 GPA isn?t enough to guarantee success personally or professionally. Though important, the world?s most successful people don't have the best college GPAs. In fact, other measurements seem to be better indicators of long-term success.

The real 4.0 that matters in college is your "capital"—and no, it's not just about money. Cultivating four types of capital—personal, intellectual, social and financial—will help young, aspiring entrepreneurs achieve long-term success.

Personal capital: How well you know yourself. This includes your awareness of your strengths, weaknesses, purpose, passions and interests. It also has to do with knowing what type of environments, motivators and people you work well with—and which ones you don?t. There aren't many classes on college campuses that help you understand who you are, and your employer simply may not care. You often have to explore these things outside of class and work on your own through personal development classes, coaching and readings.

Intellectual capital: What you know. This includes your expertise in one or two subjects or skills. For some people, this is their major, but for most people, it?s not. When you walk into any room, what subject would you feel comfortable speaking about in front of anyone for an hour? Or, what skill do you know better than the average person?

So many college students graduate with majors and minors, but still lack intellectual capital. As professionals, we start to develop skills, but the risk is getting great at what you hate. Whether you're a student or a professional, you have to be intentional about the skills you want to develop and the subjects you want to master.

Social capital: Who you know and who knows you. This includes your networks up, down, across and out. How many people are listed in your cell phone, who aren?t family, and who are older than you? Who can you call on when you need professional or personal advice? How many friends can you call on if you need help moving? How many people are you connected with at different colleges, corporations and organizations across the country?

Your social capital can consist of mentors, alumni, seasoned professionals, parents? friends, professors, peers committed to personal greatness, counselors, coaches and advisers, among others. It has very little to do with how many friends you have on Facebook. It?s all about who is committed to your personal and professional growth and development, and vice versa.

Financial capital: Who knows that you know what you know. This is a tricky one. When the right people know that you know a lot about a subject, or can execute a skill they need, that?s when financial opportunities flow. It?s a combination of your intellectual and social capital.

The interview process is all about building a relationship with the hiring manager, interviewers and the company, and then convincing them you're the most knowledgeable and skillful at solving the problem they're hiring for. Anyone who knows people in a desirable company has an advantage because referrals are one of the top ways people get jobs. Also, those who can show through past performance that they are the best at what they do will have an advantage in the hiring process as well.

While a salary is a great source of financial capital, its growth is often dictated by a corporate ladder that you must wait to advance up. When you think about your financial capital in this way, it empowers you because you are in full control of your intellectual and social capital.

Focusing on your four capitals makes you—not your company, boss or the economy—responsible for your career and life direction. While most people sit and wait for something or someone to give them a promotion, raise or pink slip, a career vision based on your four capitals will give you full control of how you grow, both personally and professionally.

Read more articles for the Gen Y generation.

Jullien "PurposeFinder" Gordon is a high performance coach and consultant for corporations and non-profits. He is a member of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) , an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and e-mail lessons.

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