Advice to Graduates 2012

May 11, 2012 at 4:03 pm Leave a comment

A journalist asked me to share some bits of advice with graduates. Below are my 15 cents:

Continue to learn: A college degree is only the beginning of learning. However, it is an important milestone in the journey called life: It shows that you have the capability to learn. I urge you to learn not only by taking training classes or seminars that may be offered on the job but also by being pro-active. Don’t hesitate to pick a book to learn more about a topic. There are excellent resources available online, use them! But more importantly, learn from your colleagues. Don’t just ask questions such as how do you do it but why do it this way? Are there alternatives? What goes into your thinking when you make those decisions? What you are trying to achieve is not to learn how to do a task which is like asking someone to give you a fish but to find a pattern in their actions and thought processes which is like learning from them how to fish.

Offer more than just your technical skills: Offer to your employer than just the skills you acquired in college (journalism, computing, engineering or whatever your major was). There are other qualities that will help you well such as being resourceful, having a great attitude, being able to work independently, demonstrating leadership by taking initiatives. If you think something needs to be fixed, take ownership for making it happened. Do you think your workplace or department could benefit from having a social committee? Offer to create one and lead it or serve on it. Do you think the company Facebook page or Twitter feed could use more updates? Propose a solution and be part of it. Don’t underestimate the difference you can create outside of your technical area of expertise.

Have a life outside of work: You need work to make a living but you are not living for work. Don’t let your job define who you are. I say this because work has a way of creeping into other aspects of our personal life. First and foremost, I encourage you to take care of yourself. Watch what you eat. Go out there and exercise. Play pick-up soccer, basketball, hockey or simply walk around your neighborhood. I wish someone would have told me earlier that there is such a thing as your metabolism slowing down. I learned too late that staying at a desk is not the same as walking between buildings on large campus. The second aspect of your life outside of work that I urge you to be careful about is relationship. You can retire from a job but you will never retire from your relationships. In fact, after you retire, you will probably need those relationships more than ever. (Personally, I am very grateful for the friendship of my wife who has helped me to remain grounded). To me relationship is not restricted only to our immediate family and friends. It includes your neighborhood, your community and even the entire world. One of the quest of humanity has been to find the purpose of life. If you want my 2 cents, I believe that our purpose is to be of service to others. We all have a responsibility to reach out to make a difference, to make this world a better place than we found it.

A clean slate: Recently I saw a quote that said, that to learn about the present, look at your past and if you want to know the future, look at your present actions. Your achievement today represents the hard work that you have put in the last few years. Your future will depend on the actions that you will take in the next few days or the next few months. Remember, once you start that first job nobody will ask you for your transcript, how high you scored on the SAT or the GRE. You are starting with a clean slate. Use this clean slate to write your own successful story.

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