If I have learned anything about advice giving and advice taking this year it is that the person who is receiving the advice is never obligated to take it all in. It is, in fact, their decision to pick and choose what is best for them and sometimes advice that is given can be accepted not right then and there, but at a later time when it is more appropriate and comprehensible.
As I mentioned awhile ago, I will be speaking to a class of business management students next month and ever since I learned that I would have this opportunity, I have gone back and forth about what I was going to say about post grad life. Would they consider me enough of a reliable source since I just graduated less than a year ago? What can I say that will sound relatable and not pretentious? How can I make my explanations clear enough so that they translate and resonate with these students?
I have been catching up with friends, writing notes, and taking bits and pieces from articles that I’ve read to compile this short list of what will probably make up my talk to these students.
- Upon graduating, you are too young and too inexperienced to have any sense of entitlement. My dear friend Megan gave the same talk to students in her major earlier this year and as soon as she said this piece, I was convinced that it was true. While I love my alma mater to pieces, coming out of a small community where you thought and knew anything was possible can leave students jaded about expectations that they have for themselves after graduating. There’s already a notion going around that the 20-something generation is entitled; why feed into that? The saying is true – you must pay your dues. My friends have told me that in their companies, they have often times wished that they could speak out about their opinions and implement changes, but when you have not established any credibility other than you “think” that your idea is better, then you have no grounds to base it on. It is better to learn – to soak up all of the knowledge that you can and then when you have proven yourself, you will be given that opportunity. It will be much more justified and satisfying.
- Be kind to everyone. Everyone you meet could have an impact on where your career will lead you so be open and inviting towards others and always be kind no matter what. If you were a mean girl in high school or college, know that those days are behind you and won’t get you anywhere in post-grad life.
- Network. This and the step above kind of go hand-in-hand. When I was in college, I wish I would have taken advantage of the opportunities I had on campus or even in my internships to meet everyone. As a college student, I understand how this can be a little intimidating, but the best thing that you can get out of this is practice, practice, practice. You flubbed up with a recruiter at a networking opp? It’s okay – on to the next. The more you practice, the better you’ll get and the more comfortable you will be.
- Business Ethics. As a Seattle University business student, I was required to take a Business Ethics class. At the time, I didn’t feel like I could ever relate to these situations and I didn’t feel like it would impact my future career path. I’ve chatted with many students in post-grad life that have listed this as being a very important factor for them when they are searching for new opportunities. Though this may not be a selling factor for you right away when you are interviewing with a company or starting your first day, it is something that you will definitely recognize pretty quickly. Find a company that you believe in – that you are passionate about – that you support and that you are proud to represent because their business values align with your own personal values.
- First impressions. I’m not sure if this is a no-brainer, but it’s an important tip that I have always kept close to me. When you are interviewing with a company, know that every person you interact with whether it’s over the phone, a receptionist, a recruiter, a hiring manager etc is an interview within itself. Each one of these individuals is aware of who you are and together their experience with how they interacted with you could be a contributing factor in determining if you belong with the team.
- The hiring process is still formal. I was surprised when I read this article about how some millennials believe that is appropriate to respond to a text or answer a phone call in the middle of an interview. Just because we live in a more modern time does not mean that these types of behavior are acceptable. Resumes still need to be formatted correctly. Cover letters need to be taken seriously. And phone screens and interviews are times when you need to turn on your professional game.
- Fine-tune your LinkedIn profile. In my spring quarter of senior year, I was required to create a Linkedin profile, but I wish I would have been told about this opportunity sooner or been urged to make one. I actually had a profile while I was still in high school, but deleted it after I realized I was too young to find a true use for it. The professional social networking website had changed so much in between that time and now as a post grad and a recruiter, I operate on LinkedIn every day. It’s such a great source for learning more about companies that you are interested in and “networking” virtually with people you already know or people you would like to meet. I will say, however, that LinkedIn is not a dating site. Please don’t use it for that.
- Don’t Stress. As graduation nears, everyone will start to ask you what your plans are after snagging that degree. If you don’t know quite yet, just know that everything will work itself out. Yes, that is some universal advice right there that people say for almost every situation imaginable, but it’s true (even if you don’t always believe it.) Remember that this is a time to DO YOU. Focus on yourself and what makes you happy. If you want to travel, start packing your bags. If you want to move and start with a clean slate, go for it. Do you want to work right away? Do you want to volunteer and give back? Do you want to have one last summer? Only you can make the right decisions for yourself so don’t be intimidated by everyone else’s plans because even if their plans sound exciting on the surface, it might not be the right plan for you. You are going to be okay. Remember that this is your senior year and that every day is one less day that you have in your undergraduate career so take advantage of the sunny days, the happy hours, the college parties that you maybe stopped going to after sophomore year, but have an urge to revisit. The bars will always be there. Do all of the things that you know you may never have a chance to do again and participate in that one event that is legal on that one day at that one time on campus. Seattle University students – you know I don’t even have to say it.