It’s graduation time and thousands of college grads are hopeful about what the future holds. For some, that future is a vision they can see clearly and for others, it’s fuzzy and they are just hoping for the best. If you are one of the thousands of graduates donning a cap and gown this spring – or you know someone who is, consider these five pearls of wisdom as you head into the “real world.” Ten to twenty years after graduation, these are the pearls of wisdom many grads say they wish they’d known when they graduated. Shorten your learning curve and embrace this wisdom now:
1. Go for what you really want.
Don’t downsize your dream before you’ve even attempted it. Go directly for the type of job you want while simultaneously being flexible. It is a challenging job market, but it is not impossible. Remember the phrase, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among stars.” It applies here. Don’t allow fear to keep you from going after what you really want.
Landing a job in your field sometimes means landing a job that is beneath your skill level. But if that job puts you in the right environment, you can make connections and be ready when the right opportunity opens up. Be willing to pay your dues by getting your foot in the door, then show your employer your energy, dedication and ability. You may get an opportunity to move up once you’ve proven yourself.
3. No one owes you anything.
One of the biggest complaints I hear from leaders in today’s organizations is that too many young people have a sense of entitlement. Experience is a great teacher. Soak up all the knowledge you can. Get a mentor. Listen more than you speak. Don’t expect a promotion or raise because you show up and do your job. That’s what you’re paid to do. Employers don’t owe you appreciation, more money or a bigger job title.
4. Build a foundation for where you want to be ten years from now.
Know where you want to be in five years or ten years. If you’re not living your vision, you’re probably living someone else’s. So have a vision for where you want to go so you don’t wander aimlessly in your career, only to find yourself frustrated later because you didn’t aim high.
5. Build a life, not just a career.
Work hard, yes, but also play hard. Think about what you want for your personal life. Don’t live to work, work to live. When you consider jobs, think about the lifestyle you want to lead – do you want to be on call 24-7? Do you want to live near family or do you really not mind moving across the country or around the world? Are you willing to live far away for a few years, but plan to move back to your current area? Will your job give you time for a life outside of work?