Raising the level of your leadership

"Old School" Thoughts For New Grads

Black MortarboardJordan, Jason, Elijah, Ryan, Sara, Michelle … Congratulations! Some of you are off to college; some are headed for the world of work. Though it has been a long time, I remember the joy of finishing and starting: I finished HS and started college; I finished college and started a career. I wasn’t really prepared for either of those starts. Maybe these “old school” thoughts will help you get off to a better start than I did.

None of your college professors are going to care where you went to HS, or that you were an honor graduate. Get over it now.

Many of your college professors are not going to care if you study…do homework…turn in papers, etc. It is up to you to learn.

Free time in college will be a new and challenging experience for you. Don’t spend it like I did (playing poker and sleeping).

If you don’t know what you want to do after college, don’t sweat it. For crying out loud, you are 18 and have a long time to figure it out.

Your parents do not owe you a free-ride college education (nor does the government). If they do it for you, be very grateful and honor them with good grades. If they can’t, choose work over debt. A few years of work during college is a lot better than a lifetime of paying off debt.

A college diploma is no guarantee of a great job. If your degree is in the History of Pottery in SW Mexico, chances are you’ll be working behind a counter somewhere. 50% of recent college grads are in jobs that have nothing to do with their degree. “But I don’t love __________.” You won’t love living on $25K per year either (or not working at all).

For those of you exiting college for the biz world, your degree may get you an interview, but it won’t get you a job. Three suggestions for interviews are #1, ditch the metal, college look, etc. Companies are looking for adults. #2, companies don’t care what you want; companies only care what you can contribute. #3, learn as much as you can about the company before the interview and ask intelligent questions. (Oh, #4, leave your cell phone in the car.)

If you get the job, show up on time, work hard at getting results (as opposed to working hard to get tired), volunteer, respect the people you work for, don’t ask for a day off every week or so.

You will probably never have a job that you love 100%. Every job has stuff that is no fun and not in your sweet spot. Don’t change jobs every 6 months looking for perfection. You’ll never be a perfect employee; you’ll never find a perfect employer.

NO ONE owes you anything. You have to work for—earn—everything you get. Only God gives us what we don’t earn (grace). (Actually, you can become a ward of the government if you want to.)

You have 40-50 years of working ahead of you. That is plenty of time to build a career and a life. So if you don’t get off to a great start, don’t panic or despair. Learn from the experience, then move forward determined to get it right.

Finally, remember the words of Jesus: “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet lose his soul?”

There are a lot of people pulling for you, including me. I love all of you. Go—with God’s help—make a great life for yourself!

[If this post was interesting and useful, please pass it on to a friend.]

© Copyright 2013 by Dick Wells, The Hard Lessons Company

2 responses to “"Old School" Thoughts For New Grads”

  1. Brenda P says:

    Awesome advice, Mr. Wells. Passing this on to some soon-to-be-graduates I know.

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