How to Invest in Yourself as a Young Adult

Jarin Kobashigawa interned at Island Wealth for three summers. He graduated with a B.A. in Economics from Willamette University in 2020. He is pursuing his MBA at Willamette and will graduate in May 2021.

As a recent college graduate, I’ve learned the importance of investing in interpersonal skills and developing emotional intelligence. Growing up, my parents and grandparents would always tell me to “study hard in school.” This of course was important advice, but what they hadn’t told me was that studying hard to get good grades isn’t the only metric for success, especially in the radically-evolving job market I would be entering. I realized I had to do more than just earn my degree in economics to impress a prospective employer. I needed to invest in myself, in who I was at my core.

To other young adults at a stage of life with expansive freedom to learn, explore, and grow, my advice is: don’t just work on improving your technical skills. Look for opportunities outside the classroom―and off your phone―to develop your communication, leadership, time management and teamwork skills. Did you know that employers look for both technical and soft skills? Do you work well with others? Employers want highly motivated and productive staff who fit in well with their company culture because the synergy this creates allows teams to thrive in collaboration and solve complex problems. Jobs that don’t require these deeply human skills are already being phased out or replaced with automation.

What proved to be some of my greatest assets in contributing to any company were the lessons I learned from years of playing baseball. My experiences on the playing field strengthened my understanding of the power of teamwork. I strove to be someone my team could depend on. I learned that reaching success takes unity―and putting the team’s needs before my own. I was lucky enough to be part of a team that won three state championships. Every year, our team worked hard to become better together. On the playing field, it went unsaid that our success depended on our ability to cooperate and work together towards the same goal. Teamwork would always yield better results than any work done individually. That’s synergy!

A common misconception is that every individual has to be great at “everything” to join and contribute to a thriving team. Yet one major element that defines a great team is a diversity of talents and experiences. Do you know what makes you unique? What are your strengths and weaknesses? Knowing yourself better will allow you to differentiate yourself from other job candidates and pinpoint what you, uniquely, can bring to the team. You might find that your teammates’ weaknesses are actually areas in which you excel. I’ve learned to recognize and hone my strengths because I believe it’s better to be great at a few things than average at everything.

The Japanese word kaizen, meaning “continuous improvement,” is a value that has been instilled in me by my parents, my teammates and my co-workers at Island Wealth. Often, our values and the way we live our life will be reflected in the people we are surrounded by, and surrounding ourselves with people we admire and aspire to emulate will influence the way we act. Luckily for me, the team at Island Wealth is also dedicated to continuous improvement. This philosophy fuels my motivation to learn and to develop into my best self so I can be a strong contributor to any team I join.

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