Congratulations, graduate! Walking across that stage in cap and gown is a huge accomplishment. I hope you know how many people are proud of you already, and I hope you are proud of yourself too. I know there are many mixed emotions with graduation: excitement, anxiety, elation, stress, nostalgia, uncertainty, triumph, and fear. As you turn the page of this chapter in your life and move into your next adventure, I’d like to share a few pieces of advice to get you started on the right foot!
First off, know that you have got this! No matter what comes your way as you enter adulthood, you are capable of figuring it out. And remember, you are never alone in this! Your parents, teachers, grandparents, mentors, professors, pastors, counselors, and whoever else has helped get you to this point will still be there for you. There is never shame in reaching back out for help or guidance, in fact, that shows wisdom. We are all still learning, no matter how old we get.
Perhaps the most important piece of advice I can give is this: simply work hard. Whether you are going to college or joining the workforce, give it all you’ve got. Always go above and beyond what you are asked.
If you’ve chosen to enter into a job, learn your job well.
Research your field on your own time and learn how to do it with skill and excellence. Look around and be proactive at work, if you see something that needs to be done just do it – don’t wait around waiting for your boss to have to assign every minor task.
Aim to dress better than your job expects.
This should be a no-brainer, but in case it isn’t, trust me, people notice. If it comes down to the person in the suit/dress and the person who’s been dressing like it’s casual Friday every day, who do you think they’re going to pick?
Arrive to work early and don’t be the one eyeing the clock to clock out the second your shift ends.
Don’t waste your time on the clock by playing on your phone or avoiding work. People are counting on you, come through for them.
In the workplace, these little steps are your ticket to better pay, better positions, better favor with your boss, and a better future in your career. More importantly, you’ll feel a higher sense of satisfaction and pride in your work.
If you are starting college, go into your classes with the mindset to truly learn, not just to regurgitate information to get a grade.
Don’t skip classes or ignore assignments; you are spending a fortune to be there so get your money’s worth! If your professor offers extra credit take it every time, you never know when your grade will need a boost and it shows your professors you are serious about their class. Engage in classroom discussions and participate in group projects – never be the reason your group gets a poor grade on a project.
College is a one-time experience. It is full of adventure, excitement, late nights, bad caf food, stress, and fun social events. But don’t forget its main purpose is to prepare you for your future career, so spend your time here wisely and give your studies the best part of you.
Take time for people.
Friendship and connection are vital, and meeting new people in your place of work or study will add a whole extra dimension of fulfillment and perspective. Push out of your comfort zone and participate in the work parties, campus events, and mixers. Expect them to be awkward at first, but make yourself go anyway. It will pay off in the end.
Be respectful to everyone.
If a boss or professor asks you to do something, don’t argue or complain. Just do it and do it to the best of your ability. If a classmate or customer makes a stupid comment or pushes you to your wit’s end, let it go and be the bigger person. Life is too short to get tangled up in drama or to hold grudges.
Show people they matter.
Simple things like taking notes in meetings, timely responses to correspondence, or even a smile and firm handshake go a long way to present yourself as a professional who values others. Don’t spend too much time with negative people who constantly complain, they will drain your energy and make you start to see things in a negative light too.
By working hard and treating people right, you will be well on your way to a successful and satisfying life. Learn to laugh, to enjoy your work, to dream big, and to pursue your passions and you will make it all the better.
So again I say congratulations, graduate! The world awaits you and your future is bright! You are going to be amazing.