Share this College Graduate Advice Before it’s Too Late

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Since Kindergarten, you’ve worried about your child’s future. That laser-like focus on helping your baby develop discipline and make good grades has gotten you all the way to college graduation, but has all that worry been for nothing? Back it up with some real-world advice, because the grown person you raised is about to get a hefty dose of reality.

Before you kick those fledglings out of the nest, realize that education isn’t enough to guarantee success. Using tactical advice, develop a blueprint for finding and keeping a great job with some pointed and actionable career tips from those of us who have been there, done that.

  • Do what you’re good at, not what you love.Sure, you want your child to enjoy his career…but you also want him to become and remain solvent instead of holding out for the “perfect” job that might never materialize.
  • Try out different fields when you’re young. For most people, it generally takes at least a few tries to find the best field, company, and/or position from which to build a career. Be sure to include the caveat that no one should leave a paying job—even if they’re unhappy with it—before they have another one lined up.
  • Always ask yourself, ‘What’s my edge?’In other words, what makes you unique and different? Why should other people pay attention to you? What do you have to offer? What gives you an edge over the competition?
  • Think of your boss and your company before yourself.This principle extends well beyond the first day of work. Make sure your graduate understands that when you’re a rookie in the big leagues, you have to prove that you’re going to be an asset to the team, not a drain on its resources or a liability for the coach. Often, that means putting your boss’s wants and needs ahead of your own. Rookie employees need to show up before the boss…leave after she does…schedule personal appointments after business hours…work six months before taking vacation days…respond to phone calls and emails ASAP (even at night, on the weekends, or during vacations).
  • Be creative and bold.To the dismay of many graduates and their parents, the days of being handed a job just because you have a diploma are long gone. There are millions of job seekers with the same qualifications as your child; so if you want her to receive one of a limited number of opportunities, she’ll need to stand out.
  • Comfort and success rarely go hand in hand. I liked and respected my first real boss, “The Professor” (so named for his resemblance to the Professor on Gilligan’s Island), tremendously. However, the more I learned while at the job, the more determined I became to move on. While The Professor was a great teacher and salesman, he wasn’t fully engaged in his career. And none of his other colleagues seemed very “amped up” about their jobs, either.
  • Stay in the driver’s seat of your career.After making the decision to leave the safety of The Professor’s nest, I was told by my employer’s HR department that sure, I could transfer to a new department—but first, I’d have to stick with my current job for three more years! I offered to give them two months to help me get transferred; then I would start interviewing elsewhere. A few weeks later, I got the transfer.
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