My Advice to College Graduates

Over the last week, my graduating students have been asking me again and again for advice. Since I began my career in business, my advice has tended toward advice for those entering that arena first but I think it can be applied elsewhere. These seem to be the things I am repeating and as a shoutout to those students who asked and to remind myself for next year, I am including them below.

  1. Have a mentor in your new digs who keeps an eye on you and you stay loyal to too. However, mentors change so be prepared for change too.
  2. Always send handwritten thank you notes within 24-48 hours, even if you are unsure if whatever just happened warrants a thank you. If you want to dazzle, stick to Crane’s.
  3. Put yourself out there and offer to help, especially when you can learn new skills, extend the ones you have, or make new connections. If the opportunity is to do something that bores you but you excel at, then take it on too. It never hurts to do great work easily sometimes.
  4. Make boundaries. For example, do not check email morning, noon, and night and set times (say from 8am to 8pm, M-F) that you are available. No one will help you do this but you. Yes, #3 and #4 are a tough balance but that is what we are all learning to do well.
  5. Puberty actually doesn’t end until around age 25 so that you still need to sleep a ton. So sleep a ton. Then, after that, sleep is still wonderful. Keep being excellent at it.
  6. Your health–mental, physical, emotional, spiritual, career-wise, etc.–is your top priority If you have problems making a decision, imagine you have a 21 year old son or daughter who is about to do ____. What would you want them to do? Do that.
  7. Journal. You will like to remember what you were thinking all of this time. One day, you will be surprised how darn consistent you are.
  8. Keep in touch with your professors and your mentors. You need references and they need to see you develop to write excellent ones.
  9. Bad roommates are the worst thing to come home to, and they do happen. If it’s not working, move on and don’t take it personally.
  10. Always negotiate.
  11. Make sure you are proud of what you are doing and the world you are creating, or find another job.
  12. Get plants and be good to them. You need someone around you growing as much as you do. If your plants wilt because you are away or not tending to them, use this to reflect on if you are tending to you.
  13. While the 3rd gin and tonic at the client event seems like it will be a blast, you need to actually need to go to work the next day so just order seltzer and lime in a g&t glass and no one is the wiser.
  14. You only live once–as far as we know. 😉 Therefore, regardless of what is above, follow your gut. It’s your life so live it how you would like to.

My best wishes to all of my graduating seniors and all graduating seniors. May you make the world a place where everyone has access to higher education and has the opportunity to choose the lives they wish as well.