This weekend marks spring commencement at Butler University. Congratulations to all the graduates!
So, bring on the advice! While I’m not a speaker this year, I certainly have LOTS of advice for grads…(and for the rest of us). Here are 15 bits – ready?
1. Act like a poor college student a while longer – Don’t run out and buy a huge house, a big Benz and go hog wild. The longer you save and act like a broke college student, the better off you’ll be over the long haul.
2. Invest in you – IMMEDIATELY if you haven’t already – If your employer offers a 401k or 403b – START IT. Make the deposits automatic. Max it out each and every year. If you start now, you’ll never miss that $18K you can put in that 401k. Also, start an IRA. The sooner you start, the better off you’ll be in the end.
3. Invest more in experiences, less in things – Travel while you’re young to far away places. The older you get, the harder it is to travel. Experiences trump things. And, I’ve had the nice things, but they’re not as important to me now. As one of my friends says, ‘the more stuff you have, the more it has you.’
4. Thank everyone who helped you get to graduation – you didn’t do it alone. Grab a box of thank you notes, and start writing.
5. Network like a rock star – just like the 401k and the IRA above with FINANCIAL capital, begin investing in your SOCIAL capital as well. They are intertwined. And, the older I get, the more I realize that they are equally important, just in different ways.
6. Get a hobby – the odder, the better. The more outside your day profession, the better. I’m a big believer in getting in different trains of thought to bring back to the day job in order to be more creative. You’ll become a better employee because of it.
7. Have fun – Probably not a tough one for those who are just getting out of college, but this was probably one of the hardest adjustments I had to make out of school – because I was constantly working and studying when I was in school. I couldn’t really remember what fun was. If you worked hard in college too – celebrate by having a little fun every now and then.
8. Mentor up, down and across – much like networking, you need to be seeking new mentors for yourself and your career, but you should also try to help others who are coming after you. Make sure you’re mentoring w/ colleagues too – they’ll get you the most business, projects and gigs on the side.
9. Dabble – This goes double for tough majors like medicine, or pharmacy, or any subject that made your brain hurt during school. If you become a dabbler in a lot of things, you become curious about the world, and that turns you into an excellent life-long learner.
10. Don’t get married right away – There may be a few who disagree with me on this, but I’m sticking to my guns on this one. Especially the ladies out there. The ‘ring before spring’ mentality on college campuses drives me crazy! You need to figure out who you are before you attach yourself to another, and that’s next to impossible to know in your 20s.
11. Read – those things called books. Magazines don’t count. Invest in your local library by getting a library card, then use it.
12. Pay off your student loans – as quickly as you can. Debt is a ball and chain you definitely want to get rid of ASAP.
13. Write – those things called words, stories and posts. Writers are leaders.
14. Play the connection game in your life – not to get too woo woo, but I do believe everything is connected. It’s a little game to try and figure out how things are connected. If you play this game, again, you’ll stay curious about the world.
15. Hustle. Seriously. If you think your professors were tough on you in the ivory tower, just wait until you get into the real world. And while college owed you an education, the real world truly owes you nothing. So, bust a move to try and make the world a better place–because no one is going to do it for you.
That’s a decent list for now. To all who aren’t graduating from college this year – what’s your best advice to those who are graduating?