In 2007 I set out to write my best piece of work yet: my senior thesis.
I was in grad school at Cal State University, Long Beach, and while in the process of submitting my application to graduate with a Masters in English, I decided that I would write a thesis vs. taking the written exam as my final graduation requirement. Who wants to write a thesis anyway?
Well, I did.
I’ve always loved to write, I was an English major, … Oh, and in addition, the thesis seemed a little less stressful to me. It was more of a process with reviews and check points. On the contrary, the exam was a four-hour stressfest with not even the slightest guarantee.
I was working two full-time jobs at the time, so adding more stress to my daily to-do was the last thing I wanted or needed.
So here’s how writing a thesis worked:
If you were going to write a thesis, you had to choose a mentor and then two additional readers who would judge your thesis.
Your mentor was the one who would hold you accountable (yes – outlines, introductions, bibliography – hard due dates for six months straight).
Your readers were the ones who you would meet with once in the beginning to “sell them” on your idea, and then once at the end, right before they did their final read. Keep in mind your mentor and your readers all had to be fully on board, of course.
Finding my mentor
My mentor was amazing. Super supportive, a great professor who I had basically followed around campus for the year and half I was there – literally working my class schedule around the courses she taught. She was that good.
Every time I asked her a question, no matter how random or vague or stupid it was, she either a) had an answer for me, or b) had a place for me to go to find out. I never told her this, but she was always kind of like a walking resource to me.
On October 25, 2007, I had my last meeting with my mentor before approaching the two professors I would ask to be my readers. I had been working with my mentor for over a month on my proposal, which I had sent via email to my two potential readers the week before so they could take a look at all 8,816 words of it. I was ready.
He hated it
I walked into the office of my potential reader #1. He spun around in his chair, said hello, and then picked my proposal up off from his desk (I know – did he really have to print the whole thing out?) Apparently, yes, he did.
He hated it. He poked so many holes in my argument, and he literally had my proposal – what was going to be my best piece of work yet – looking like my 16-month-old niece’s kids menu after she had tortured it with the red crayon.
I couldn’t let him see me cry, but oh – you better believe I was crying inside. Like a lot.
Okay Kate, shake it off.
Next stop was potential reader #2 – a much better fit for my thesis anyway. And no biggie – I have “backups” that I can go to who will serve me much better than Mr. Red Crayon over there.
I walked into office #2 – no print out… whew! I felt better about this meeting already!
…until he told me that he hated Seinfeld, which just so happened to literally be the MEAT of my thesis. Yeah, we’re not talking like slight mentions of the show.
The title of my thesis was:
The Inescapable Everyday: A Study of Seinfeld and American Culture
As if I could have seen that coming. And wait just one second… aren’t these professors supposed to be supportive and encouraging about this stuff regardless?
I don’t care if you like Seinfeld or not! Do you think I like Boethius? But I still had to read about him for you! I know – poor attitude. I was a college student; what do you expect?
Five months later I took the written exam and passed, thanks to the help of my mentor, my walking resource.
Since that point in time, resources have taken on a whole new meaning for me.
Passing the written exam
Years ago, resources were simply a synapse that connected my question with an answer. But that day, when I walked into my mentor’s office and told her that I had no readers, she looked at me and assured me that I would pass the written exam.
She provided me with some amazing online resources – things I didn’t even know existed like online forums and collections that you could search by topic. I knew my written exam would focus on 20th Century American Literature, and so my search terms were pretty much set.
I downloaded software that would help me keep track of the time I spent online studying, and I used chat features that allowed me to meet with others who were studying the same topic as me. These are the online resources that helped me pass my written exam.
The best online resources
Today, even just six years later, online resources have changed a lot.
But one thing remains the same: they have become an integral part of our learning experience, especially as online business owners and entrepreneurs.
The same way my mentor in college was my walking resource, I now go to my online community for recommendations and tips on the best Internet resources around to help me learn and progress.
It never ceases to amaze me how incredibly powerful some of these tools really are.
And so I decided to ask my fellow Mastermind Tribe members from Fire Nation Elite (aka FNE), who are all working on entrepreneurial ventures of their own right now, “What’s your favorite Internet resource?” Here’s what they had to say:
Top recommended resource descriptions
If you’d like to check out any of these recommended Internet resources yourself, here’s a short description and a link for each:
- Trello – Instant clarity on any project: Organize anything, together. Online project management tool that allows you to create boards and groups so you can keep tasks and deadlines under control.
- Skype – Wherever you are, wherever they are – Skype keeps you together. Free Internet calling that allows you to connect with people all over the world. You can even share your screen!
- Facebook – Social media tool that connects you with friends, family and the world.
- PicMonkey – Free online photo editing. Allows you to edit, add to and beautify any image.
- Fiverr – Graphics, marketing, fun, and more. The world’s largest marketplace for services, starting at just $5.
- Long Tail Pro – Find profitable keywords faster than ever before.
- iTunes – Everything you need to be entertained.
- Twitter – Instantly connect to what’s most important to you. Follow your friends, family, colleagues, favorite celebrities and more.
- Evernote – Remember everything. Allows you to bookmark pages, content and jot down ideas so you can go back to them later.
- Dropbox – Your stuff, anywhere. Allows you to upload your photos, documents, music and videos so you have access to them from anywhere.
- Zite – Tell Zite your interests, and let it do the rest. The best of your favorite magazines, online articles, blogs, newspapers and more, delivered straight to you.
- Google – Search the world’s information and use tools that will help you with analytics, connecting with other people, sharing and managing documents and much more.
- LastPass – Password manager. Allows you to store all of your passwords so you don’t have to remember them every time.
- Quora – You best source for knowledge. A place you can go to create and consume content from around the web.