Success Tips For New Graduates

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College graduation is an exciting time.  It’s a time of endings—your classroom days are behind you and it’s time to pack up your dorm room or apartment and look for that first job.  It’s also a time of beginnings.  You’re a graduate, in your 20’s or 30’s, and you’re beginning a new independent phase of life full of opportunities and adventure.  Beginning a new career, with your first post-college job. 


Graduation speakers are usually full of stories and humor and advice.  And graduates need advice from seasoned, successful adults who have been in the graduate’s shoes and made it in the real world.  Graduates are full of hope, fear and excitement.  Many feel this generation’s graduates feel they should just step into their dream job, run a company and make six figures after a couple of months.  Whether or not that perception is deserved, many graduates are anxious to get on with the rest of their lives, beginning with an exciting and rewarding first job.


A Forbes article, “Advice to Graduates Starting A Career In Advertising,” gives 20 tips for new graduates in Advertising, but the tips could apply to any new graduate.  Here are some valuable tips for new grads in retail, advertising, engineering or any major.


One tip speaks to relevancy.  If you want to be relevant in today’s workplace, you have to embrace everything digital.  If not, you’ll be left behind. You have to be functional and knowledgeable on every type of digital media.  It’s not enough to be willing to learn on the job.  Having the working experience is essential to getting the job.


Never think that any job is beneath you.  Every job comes with things you don’t want to do.  Making copies and filing them.  Data entry.  Making phone calls or handling complaints.  No one starts out with a personal secretary or an administrative assistant to handle the clerical tasks.  Moving boxes or filing hundreds of invoices?  In today’s offices, everyone does everything. 


In her book, Lean In, Sheryl Sandburg noted that career ladders no longer only go up.  There are many paths to your dream job, and sometimes they go sideways or even down before they go up.  Don’t take a lateral move as a step down.  It may be a platform to learn what you need to do to take the next step up.


Another tip is to own your choices and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.  There is nothing more career killing than to blame anyone and everyone for your mistakes.  With responsibility comes accountability.  There is no shame in making an honest mistake.  Happens to everyone.  Not being mature enough to accept the consequences is what’s disappointing to a manager or work team.  It happened.  Learn from it and move on.


One tip, “be nice to others,” is helpful, but don’t be too nice.  You need to be respectful of other people’s opinions, but not at the expense of your own.  Speak your mind and ask questions, even if they are counter to your boss or co-workers.  Don’t target people, but question decisions or ideas that you honestly feel may not work or may have a better alternative.  Remember, if two people always agree, one of them is unnecessary.


One final tip—proofread everything.  It doesn’t matter what type of job or industry.  Your emails, correspondence, reports and presentations have your signature on them.  Grammar, spelling and sentence structure matter.  If that’s not your strong suit, find an editor, proofreader or good dictionary.  Invest in Strunk and White’s “Elements of Style” or the Associated Press Stylebook to find out where to put the quotation marks and punctuation. 


These tips, and others in the article, can help a new grad, or a seasoned professional, get more out of their job search and career.  Let them work for you.


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