As you make your way into the world, consider these suggestions:
- The best way to improve your writing is… to write! Write a lot. You will need good writing skills whatever your career path. And, as you work on writing, work also on editing. Writing clearly and concisely is vital.
- Take the opportunity to meet people in your chosen field. Don’t just visit with people your own age. Don’t just talk to the attractive people.
- Be flexible. You may not land the job of your dreams anytime soon, if ever. But you may find that what’s available is far better than you could’ve imagined.
- Improve your tech skills. You are a digital native, so dealing with the digital world is instinctive for you. Learn how to shoot good video and how to edit and post what you shoot. Learn the basics of web development. New platforms and techniques will emerge, but if you have a good foundation, you will be better able to quickly adapt.
- Archive your work. If it’s all on a laptop, back it up to an external drive. The laptop could disappear or be dropped or could simply fail. Blog posts will likely stay around, but other web content you’ve authored can vanish at any time.
- Don’t be timid. This may be my most important piece of advice. It can be hard to ask someone to hire you, to ask someone to go out on a date with you or to ask your parents for money. Just do it. Even if they say “no” the first time, they may say “yes” later.
- If a relative or two gives you a copy of the Dr. Seuss book Oh, the Places You’ll Go, just smile and say thank you. “Places” is a classic gift for grads, although I’d recommend instead the more useful You Can Negotiate Anything by Herb Cohen.
- Start putting some money into a retirement plan as soon as you start earning a paycheck. Age 60 is a long way away, but the earlier you start putting aside some cash, the more you’ll have when you get there. Even if you’re paying off a huge student loan tab, sock some away.
- Call your mom and dad every now and then. They may or may not want to micromanage your life, but they’d still like to know what’s going on. Keep them in the loop.
- Enjoy your life and don’t whine too much, okay?
(During Summer 2015 I am revisiting several of my posts from previous years. These suggestions were originally posted in May 2012. I had recently shared many of those thoughts with an attentive group of students that spring in a PR class at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville.)