Hi, I’m Hope Szymanski, a Praxis grad. I create value in people’s lives both personally and professionally by using my great people skills and my acquired hard skills. I am an excellent problem solver, I enjoy a good challenge, and I’m always willing to learn.
In my free time I enjoy reading, writing novels and blog posts, cooking/baking, acting, singing, creating value in the lives of others, and hanging out with friends and family! You can follow my work at hopeszymanski.com.
Looking back on my life one year ago, I can honestly say I’m a different person. In a good way. Lots of life lessons, job experiences, and traveling have made me a more confident and outgoing person.
Most, if not all, of these life-changing experiences occurred because I went through this crazy program called Praxis. I already wrote about how I broke the mold and got into Praxis, and I’ve also written in some depth about what I learned professionally during my apprenticeship, but I have not written about the overall experience and how it’s propelled me into what I’m doing today. Today, I record that story. Here are the 5 most important things I gained during my apprenticeship:
1. Increased Independence & Confidence
Placement went more or less as expected – I interviewed with about 4 companies at the same time, and found a company doing some pretty neat things out in San Francisco.
Now mind you, I had told Praxis there was NO WAY I was going to move. I was dead set against it and wanted to stay in Minnesota, where I’d lived my whole life. So you can imagine my own surprise when I accepted a job offer in California and flew out to start work there one week later at the age of 19.
That in itself has grown me so much, both personally and professionally. If you’re afraid of moving out for the first time, just do it. It’ll be so worth it and will grow you in ways you can’t even imagine right now. I learned how to better solve problems on my own, be more independent, and relate to people in the workplace. This, in turn, made me a better and more responsible employee.
Being more independent helped me focus more on my job and becoming more valuable to the company I worked for. In addition, it forced me to think and be more creative and responsible.
Don’t get me wrong – moving out is HARD. Anything that’s worth anything is hard, but it’s so worth it.
2. Various Hard & Soft Skills
During my apprenticeship, I got the privilege of having a front-row seat to running a business. I am forever grateful for the co-founders of EquitySim for mentoring me and allowing me to be a significant part of their team. I learned so much about sales, operations, marketing, customer success, and business strategy because we all had to wear so many hats.
More important than all the hard skills I gained, however, were the soft skills. I became much more confident in myself. I was able to strengthen my selling/relational skills. Most of all, I enhanced my ability to articulate my thoughts verbally on the spot (something I’d always struggled with before).
I was able to participate in all stages of the sales funnel and even run a live demo presentation. I got the opportunity to meet all kinds of amazing people, made lasting friendships, and discovered that I could do anything I put my mind to and was willing to work for. And not just because I had the skills and connections, but also the belief and confidence in myself.
Interviewing for my apprenticeship/first job versus interviewing for my second job – night and day difference! For my second job hunt, I created a sales pipeline and did more research. During phone calls, I was able to speak more clearly, sell myself better, and give specific examples of my skills to potential employers. Only 1-2 times was I asked if I had a degree – all the others thought it was pretty neat that I didn’t and had already gotten this far in my career.
4. Self Starter Mindset
When I started at my new job, I was able to bring so many of the skills I learned from my first position into the new one. I had learned to be an entrepreneur within a company as an employee, and get a fast start to running my own work responsibilities. Additionally, I instinctively started creating systems within my role to make me as effective as possible. Honestly, I owe a lot of that to what I learned during my apprenticeship and from associating with people within the Praxis community.
5. An Amazing Supportive Community
Probably one of the most overlooked parts of the Praxis program is the awesome community of people you get to meet and stay in contact with forever. It’s awesome to know that there’s a place I can post things for feedback, gain support for projects, and share & learn career techniques.
Every week, we have “Praxis Wednesdays” (and now we’ve implemented “Praxis Mondays” as well), where we get together as a group virtually over Zoom to discuss projects, give/receive advice, and bond as a community. It’s a great way to make more connections, learn from peers/coaches, and make friends who share your same passions.
Recently, I also attended a conference where Isaac Morehouse, founder of Praxis, was speaking. There, I met some Praxians in person, which was an incredible experience! Anytime you can get around these people, it’s well worth it. 🙂 (see the above screenshot)
I think the most amazing thing about all of this is that I didn’t have to wait 4 years to start my career. I have no debt, I’ve moved across the country and lived in CA for 8 months, lived in a foreign country for 6 weeks, got 1 year of sales experience under my belt, I’m currently doing really well in my second job, and I know I can do well with whatever happens in my career going forward – all in less than 2 years – and I’m only 20 years old.
So, to answer the post title, is Praxis worth it? 110%.
Is it going to push you outside of your comfort zone? Heck yes.
Will it be hard? Absolutely.
But again, is it worth it? YES.
If you have the courage and persistence needed to stick out the hard times, you’ll not only make it, but you’ll thrive, and you’ll be so glad you didn’t quit.