Graduation is in the air! My nephew graduates from Virginia Tech in a month. Over the last couple of weeks, I have been invited to conduct mock interviews with soon to be graduates at University at Buffalo and my alma mater Daemen College. I don't really think they recognize how college life has prepared them for the real world.
I love reading about those who speak at college graduations this time of year and what words of wisdom they will share with the graduating class. But it got me thinking about what advice I would impart to them if I ever had the honor of speaking to a graduating class.
So here goes: To the Soon-to-Be College Graduate
You can finally see the finish line! If you are familiar with Aesop's fable about the "Tortoise and the Hare," "Slow and steady wins the race." I am sure that at times over the last several years there have been moments when you felt like the tortoise. You were working so hard but the finish line seemed to be out of reach. Time almost felt like it was standing still. But you never gave up, you dug in a little deeper, worked a little harder and here you are a month out from graduation. Now the time is speeding forward and you wish you could slow it down.
Take a deep breath! Then take a minute or two and appreciate how that feels. Recognize the accomplishment of putting in the time and work and reaping the reward. Look back and remember how it felt to begin this journey as a freshman. Appreciate all your hard work and the long nights and weekends studying until the wee hours of the morning. Pat yourself on the back. You deserve it.
Most of all remember, the moments of stress, the fear of failure, the anxiety of whether you could make it to graduation day. Those moments and so many others in college have helped build your foundation, they have contributed to your character, and they made you a stronger more resilient human being. And hopefully you are a little more tolerant of others and a little more empathetic of others' life situations because of what you have experienced.
You may be telling yourself you don't want college life to end now. You feel like you just figured it all out. And most importantly, you may be asking yourself, "Am I really ready to enter into the 'real world?'" You may be feeling a little scared.
What you may not realize is over the last several years of college you have been preparing yourself for the "real world".
This is what I mean:
- You have learned to negotiate with professors over grades.
In the real world, it will be negotiating job offers, salary increases, and sales
contracts just to name a few.
- You have learned what it means to put in long hours to complete your
homework and prepare for your exams.
In real life, you may need to prepare for cases, research and create proposals,
or study for licensing or certifications in your field.
- You have learned how to meet deadlines.
In real life, your job could depend on meeting deadlines -- many people could
be dependent on you.
- You have learned to become more balanced and organized with all the
demands of college life.
Some day you may decide to get married and maybe even start a family.
Whether you remain single, decide to marry or become a single parent,
learning how to balance work and life is one of the most fundamentally
important things you could learn to do for yourself early on.
- You have learned to get along with and live with a variety of people and
In real life, you will be working with multiple generations in the workplace.
The ability to work and get along with a variety of individuals is crucial.
So now that you have learned all these important life skills, go out and make a difference in this world of ours, make a positive impact. You have positioned yourself for great things in your life. This is not the end of learning but just the beginning. Have fun, enjoy the journey. Take advantage of opportunities that come your way. It is in the challenges that we face that we see the most accomplishments. Help each other. Ask what you can do for others and I promise it will come back to you hundredfold.
I leave you now with a quote from Ed Helms, the actor and comedian, "Don’t be afraid of fear. Because it sharpens you, it challenges you, it makes you stronger; and when you run away from fear, you also run away from the opportunity to be your best possible self." #sharphumanresources, #collegegraduate2016, #collegegraduate