Here we are, just a few days away from graduation. Pretty soon, gone will be the days of Mod 4 standups, scheduled zoom calls, and project time with cohortmates. Instead, you’ll be facing a new challenge: the total lack of an externally-mandated schedule!
Transitioning to life post-Turing can be intimidating and lonely - but this lesson is here to make it refreshing, purposeful, and connected.
- Reconnect with the things (activities, items, people, environments, etc) that help you be the most yourself
- Begin identifying your goals (both quantitative and qualitative)
- Identify some of the common barriers that can prevent us from reaching our goals, and brainstorm antidotes
We’re going to spend some time thinking about what is most important to us as whole humans.
In your notebook
What important things have you lost touch with over the course of your time at Turing?
These can be activities, loved ones, habits, traits, etc. Examples: time with friends; exercise; a hobby.
If you are willing, share in the chat! Who else has similar things?
Goals: both are important
In the next section, we’ll discuss two types of goals, and why they are both important to have.
When you think of a goal, the most obvious ones that come to mind are often quantitative goals: a task or activity you can measure with a hard number or rule. You can quantify the results. Example: “I want to run a marathon on July 12th of next year”; or “I will be able to order a meal in Tagalog by the time I take a trip to the Philipines in February”.
Your most recognizable quantitative goal right now may be “Get a job as a developer before I run out of money”.
A common way of taking an intimdating, impossible-seeming goal and breaking it down into achievable steps is to use SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Bound.
For example, the goal of “Get a job” is
- not Specific ❌
- easy to Measure ✅
- requires external factors out of your control to Achieve ❌
- doesn’t include Relevant steps to follow ❌
- and is difficult to keep to a specific Timeframe ❌
Let’s think of a goal that is SMARTer: “By the end of my first week out of Turing, I will apply to 3 jobs thoroughly, making network connections and tailoring my resume and cover letter to each position.”
- Specific (what am I doing? submitting 3 applications) ✅
- Measurable (did I apply to 3 positions? did I tailor my documentation? did I network?) ✅
- Achievable (3 applications is do-able, unlike a goal of 15 solid applications) ✅
- Relevant (applying to jobs leads to getting a job) ✅
- Time-bound (I will do this by a specified date) ✅
At the end of a SMART goal’s timeframe, we take to to reflect and refactor our goal. Was this sustainable? Does it move me closer to achieving my goals? Is it still relevant?
Equally important to quantitative goals are qualitative goals: goals that are less easy to measure and observe, are less focused on tasks to complete, and are ore focused on adjusting or maintaining a quality or trait. They are often tied up with an emotion or state of being. Example: “I want to be more connected with my loved ones”, or “I will be more well-rested”.
While most of our schooling and culture trains us to prioritize quantitative goals, it’s just as important to focus on our qualitative goals. These goals are often the ones that help us feel motivated, energized, and contented. They are the ones that, thinking back to our warmup, help us be our best selves.
So how do we set and measure qualitative goals? We wouldn’t use something like the SMART method. “I will feel like only 15% of an imposter by November 4th of this year.” It’s not really feasible!
Instead, qualitative goals are measured via progress. Sometimes a qualitative goal will have quantitative steps - “I will be more rested” might have SMART steps you can take such as “I will stop screen use by 9pm every night for this week” - but the measurement of the goal happens through self-check-ins and community feedback.
Let’s look more at the qualitative goal of “I will be more rested”:
Perhaps you know that this is something you want to prioritize because you have recognized the negative effects of not being rested: you snap at your partner; you leave chores undone and dislike the resulting untidyness; you have trouble learning new material; your memory/recall seems worse.
In identifying steps to try to address the issue (“no phones after 9pm”, “bedtime at 10pm”, “stretch and meditate at 9:30”, etc), you enlist your community to help you assess your progress:
- “I know I’ve been grumpy while I’ve been a student. I’m prioritizing getting more rest because I do not want to be grumpy with you. Will you help me recognize my progress by letting me know next Friday what changes you’ve noticed in my mood?”
- “Can I text you photos of my sink every day? I want to see if I’m able to have more energy to clean and tidy throughout the week.”
And you take time to check in with yourself:
- “Is it realistic for me to be in bed by 10pm? Do I have other obligations that are making that difficult to maintain?”
- “Am I actually a night owl, and instead I will let my body sleep later?”
- “Do I need to take a different approach?”
- “How do I feel in the morning?”
The analysis of a quantitative goal is more reflective, rather than a series of checkboxes to complete.
In your notebook
Identify some of your quantitative and qualitative goals: what do you hope to accomplish, and what traits/emotions/connections will help you get there?
Why is this lesson called Ritual and Routine? Isn’t that a little woowoo for a tech school?
NO, IT ISN’T! Aside from the many people (especially from marginalized communities) who have been teaching about the importance of ritual for generations, modern Western society is finally listening. Articles in places like the Harvard Business Review and BBC show that the mainstream is learning about how ritual can help us reduce anxiety about uncertain futures, and also move us into a headspace of possibility and potential instead of pessimism and despair. Ritual not only provides structure to our days, but can actually improve our performance in high-stress activities.
A ritual is defined by psychologists as “a predefined sequence of symbolic actions often characterised by formality and repetition that lacks direct instrumental purpose”. Research identifies three elements of a ritual. First, it consists of behaviours that occur in fixed succession – one after another – and are typified by formality and repetition. Secondly, the behaviours have symbolic meaning and lastly, these ritualised behaviours generally have no obvious useful purpose. … Studies show that the anxiety-reducing effect of rituals can apply to almost any high-pressure endeavour. In one entertaining experiment, researchers instructed participants to perform an anxiety-inducing task – to sing Don’t Stop Believing (by the rock band, Journey) in front of strangers. The participants were separated into two groups, with one asked to perform a ritual beforehand (including sprinkling salt onto drawings they had created). The second group were given instructions about their performance and left to sit quietly. The participants’ heart rate, feelings of anxiety and performance of the song were measured to determine anxiety levels. “Participants who completed the ritual sang better, had significantly lower heart rates, and reported feeling less anxious than participants who had not performed the ritual,” says Francesca Gino, head of the negotiation, organisations and markets unit at Harvard Business School and co-author of the study.
While the rituals studied seem to have roots in magical thinking and superstition, we can create rituals in our daily routines that have more obvious meaning.
- Perhaps you decide to make a ritual of sending a random cohortmate an encouraging Slack message while you drink your morning coffee.
- Maybe you decide to take three deep breaths and list one thing you now know how to do that you didn’t know before Turing, every time you sit at your desk to begin looking for jobs.
- Maybe you have a ritual of petting your cat after submitting an application, taking time to let go of stress and worry and to think only about how outrageously soft and good your pet is.
- Maybe your ritual can be video-calling a friend to discuss an interview as soon as you finish it, sharing insights about the process, and celebrating the win of doing the interview at all.
As you think about your post-graduation schedule, know that you can build in rituals. Maybe you are someone for whom blocks of time on your calendar work. Maybe it’s better for you to think in terms of habits. In any case, there is no one-right-way to form a routine for yourself!
Outwitting the Barriers
There’s a reason Turing is structured into cohorts and modules: breaking a large goal into smaller pieces makes it easier to achieve, and we need community to get there.
One of the hardest parts about graduating into the job hunt is that you can feel like you’re on your own. You can feel like it’s all on you to see yourself to the goal. But that’s JUST! NOT!! TRUE!!!
The benefits of social supports (and social integration - aka participating in social relationships) have been well-documented. From lowering stress to improving accountability and boosting motivation, having a community of people who support you and understand what you are facing is crucial to keeping up your health, mood, and progress in stressful situations such as your first tech job hunt.
One of the best things you can do for yourself as you consider your post-grad job hunt is to stay connected to your cohort and the larger Turing community.
Here are some ideas for keeping connected:
- Create small groups who meet up regularly on zoom or in person based on your timelines/needs/interests
- A group that hopes to find jobs in the next 3 months
- A group that hopes to find jobs in the next 6 months
- A group that wants to work in health tech
- A group that wants to work in ed tech
- A group that wants to make sure they’re exercising regularly
- A group that wants to do more cooking and swap recipes
- A group that wants to leverage body doubling and will work together on whatever they want, on the same zoom call
- Make a commitment to check in on Slack
- Maybe you will post regular threads of wins
- Maybe you will post regular check in questions
- Maybe you will shout out people once a week
- Maybe you’ll organize a LinkedIn recommendation party
- Make use of the New Grad Services (see below) events and offerings
Find at least 2 people to connect with regularly after graduation!
Reach out on Slack, use the Zoom chat, or maybe the instructor can open breakout rooms where you can discuss.
New Grad Services
You’ll see that the New Grad Services kickoff is happening later today. That session will help you know what to expect in terms of post-graduation events, supports, and services. Take that into account as you create the rituals and routines to help you reach your goals.
By the end of today, you should develop a rough outline of your post-graduation schedule/routine/rituals. For the rest of this week, you’ll try living according to that schedule/routine/rituals. As you do, reflect:
- What works?
- What doesn’t?
- Are you making progress on your goals?
- Are you making time for yourself to be yourself?
- Are you balancing rest, progress, and connection?
- Are you isolating yourself? If so, how can you incorporate more community into your schedule?
- Can you sustain this schedule?
Remember: your schedule should work for you, not the other way around. Make changes that serve you, and don’t neglect the things that give you energy! The job hunt, like Turing, is a marathon, not a sprint. Build in time for the things that make you feel energized, motivated, and excited!