College graduation season is upon us and a fresh crop of indebted individuals is about to be unleashed on corporate and other parts of America. It doesn’t seem like it has been as long as it has but I am nearly 15 years out now so have some collected wisdom to share with the recent graduates. This wisdom is collected from my own experience and witnessing the approach taken by recent college graduates that I have interacted within a professional environment.
What to do:
- Follow your passions now while you have minimal responsibilities and nothing holding you back
- Choose your mentors wisely and follow their guidance. Who you know and attach your coat tails to matters as much as what you know and do.
- Start paying yourself first and save and invest aggressively as soon as you start working. Utilize the company 401k match for all its worth you won’t be getting a defined benefit pension so take everything you can get.
- Speak up but in a humble way. Get recognized for your contributions by approaching it this way but don’t think you know a lot because you have a degree. So does everyone else and you will have to pay your dues so that is why having a mentor can help you learn the ropes.
- If you have entrepreneurial ambitions go for it now
- Work for free for a little bit (but not too long) if that exposure can land you the job you want.
What not to do:
- Don’t let fear hold you back go ruthlessly after your dreams and do not let anything stand in your way.
- Don’t lock yourself into big fixed costs like new cars or houses. Keep your monthly expenses low so you can keep your options open until you are ready to lay down some roots.
- Don’t focus on the position with the highest starting salary instead focus on the job that will provide you the most experience in the area you want to focus. Nothing can replace the value of learning and achieving the 10,000 hours of experience in your chosen field at a young age. It is the foundation for higher earnings later in life.
- Don’t rush into marriage there is plenty of time especially for you men.
- Don’t start work the day after you graduate. I did that and everyone deserves a few weeks off to live it up before work for the rest of your life begins.
Best wishes college graduates the future is yours if you seize it.