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5 Pieces of Advice for College and University Graduates

Another year has passed, and a new group of esteemed students will be graduating and hopefully get a crack at entering the workforce.

Graduates - You may have student loans, and respectfully so. You’ve spent the last few years going down the path of what skill set you wanted to craft your life around. Whether it be cooking, accounting or marketing, lawyer, in the trades, or a hairdresser.

The next three-to-five years is the time for you to take and make sure this was exactly what you wanted to do. It can be tough graduating from high-school and thinking you want to be a plumber, to find out that after learning the skills, and trying it out, it wasn’t what you saw yourself doing for the rest of your life.

Don’t worry! These are the years that you can take the time to re-evaluate and shift gears. Before you start a family, before you are tied into owning a home and a car.

Here’s some advice to help you along your journey:

1. The world isn’t what you think it was going to be

The world is tough. It’s not as structured as school was. Things change, markets shift, sometimes jobs are not available, lay-offs can happen. But, you are at the age that you can roll with it. Enjoy the next three-to-five years, and do what you want. Travel, try starting your own business (if that is what you’ve wanted to do), live on a shoe string budget and do what you want! Down the road you may want to go do some of these things, but you can’t because you have to take your kid to baseball or hockey practice. Like Gary Vaynerchuk says – You have One Life, no regrets!

2. You’re at the bottom

Sounds harsh, but if you are the new intern - You have book smarts, not the actual life and work experience to back it up. My advice is to learn as much as you can. Listen to your peers and bosses. Pick their brains. Learn the business from the bottom up.

Getting a raise, or landing a VP job is not a realistic expectation. Prove yourself. Let your passion for the work you are doing shine through, and prove to your boss that you’re able to execute and produce results. The only way to get ahead is to put in the work. Absorb everything you can, and go do it! Take from it what you like, and realize what you don’t like. See how it applies to your own outlook and start honing your skills.

3. All Jobs are good jobs

Look for companies who look to invest in their employees. Money isn't everything. Do not focus on it. Finding a company that is willing to invest in your development is huge. Providing training and coaching and continuous learning is a huge benefit. It will get you up to speed on company expectations, improve your performance, and if for some reason you end up switching jobs, you'll have that extra training in the field to help you along the way. Just because other jobs offer more money, doesn't mean it's going to be a better place to work in the long run.

4. Try to find mentors in your field

This was a big one for me. I was fortunate enough to align with three different people in the marketing field upon graduating from college. Each had similar outlooks, however, completely different approaches.

When you can find someone that is living the lifestyle you are aspiring to achieve, and they can help tell you what you need to do each day to get to that level it is inspiring and helps you find the right methods to spend the appropriate amount of time on certain tasks to make the best of it.

5. Don’t be full of yourself

Just because you have a college or university degree doesn't entitle you to a job. Be prepared.

Having the piece of paper that says you can do the job is one thing. It could take you months or longer to get a job, or you may change jobs multiple times over a period of time.

Try to focus on how you can use your acquired talent and your hustle or work ethic to prove to an employer how you can contribute to their team. Don't rely on the fact that you have the degree to get you the big job. You will more than likely start at an entry level position. Long hours, low pay and lots of work with tight deadlines.

If this is something you are concerned about re-read tip one and two.

Although this advice may be tough love, I encourage you to find your passion. Evaluate your strengths and put your effort into what you are good at and enjoy it. When you do something that you love and you’re passionate about - building a career and living life will become a lot easier (and more enjoyable!)


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