May 20, 2008  •  In Career, Personal

5 Pieces of Advice for Recent Graduates, Part 1

My office is right upstairs from Madison Square Garden and believe it or not, many schools hold their commencement ceremonies at the Garden. In the past week, I have come downstairs many times to a sea of gowns, caps, and proud families. And I expect this to continue for the next few weeks, just as it has in the previous years.

Graduation season is upon us, my friends.

Last week the mental_floss Blog posted an article called 7 Memorable Commencement Addresses and I read each word (and watched each video) with much respect. What great sources of inspiration! Can you imagine how awesome would it have been to have had Steve Jobs come speak at your commencement?

(The article mentions that Bill Nye is the speaker at Johns Hopkins this year. How come they didn’t have any cool speakers like him when I was still around?)

Now I’m only 27 and I admit I can still be a fool when it comes to the matters of life. However, after contemplating these famous speeches, I began to think about what I would say to this year’s graduates, if given the chance…

1. The world doesn’t owe you anything.

So many people receive their diplomas from top tier universities and expect the world to turn in their favor. They expect multiple job offers, signing bonuses, and six figure salaries.

Even if their demands are not as high, I still read many stories of recent grads who are genuinely surprised that companies are not rolling out the red carpet for them. In fact, they’re actually…*gasp* having trouble finding jobs.

There have been much talk of the “entitlement generation” in the past few years. HR reps at various companies are being re-trained to deal with the new generation of recent graduates who want all the perks without having the pay the dues.

I do not mean to sound harsh, but consider the following three words: life ain’t easy.

You gotta work for what you want.

Unless they were incredibly lucky, the fact of the matter is that the vast majority of successful people had to work their asses off in order to get to where they are.

One of my favorite quotes is from an episode of the NBC show Scrubs, where Dr. Kelso gives this piece of advice to a young lady who is looking for the easy way out: “Nothing in this world worth having comes easy.”

Consider a man who made $200 million through a lottery drawing. Now picture another man who was able to save $1 million for retirement through years of working at a job paying just $30k a year.

It’s a no brainer that the majority of people would choose the $200 million over $1 million. And it’s obvious that most people would choose to get the $200 million through pure luck and chance, rather than the $1 million over years of saving and hard work.

But when you think about it, the man who saved the $1 million will most likely treasure and appreciate his money more than the $200 million lottery man.

Think about it.

This isn’t meant to put a damper on your hopes and aspirations. The next piece of advice is more optimistic: 2. It’s never too late.

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