Advice for College Grads

gradThis is the time of year where college grads venture out into the business world with their new diplomas and dreams of a great future. I was thinking about the road ahead for graduates as we watched our son, Carl, graduate from UConn earlier this month. We were particularly proud to see Carl graduate with Honors, and he “won” the prize for the longest Honors Thesis title: An Analysis of ad serving and content management across digital platforms during the shift from desktop to mobile. I thought To Serve Or Not To Serve was a little crisper. Carl replied his title sounded more academic and in fact he is correct. But brevity is at a premium in the outside business world as he’ll learn.

I was not asked to give the Commencement speach at UConn, nor at my alma mater Rutgers (where President Obama nudged me out for the honor). Nonetheless Strumings provides me the platform for some advice to graduates that is worth heeding. Here goes…

1. Work hard
As you begin your first job, be less concerned about work hours, PTO, working from home etc. Look to get out of the box strong. Work hard from day one and make an immediate impression. Be a high quality/volume producer

2. Likeability
Try really hard to get along with everyone. Likeability is a key to success. This is really important, short and long term.

3. Be humble
Humility is a common trait among most successful CEOs. Learn it from day one. Share credit with others. No one likes a person who is all about “me, me, me”

4. Be a team player
Help someone who needs it. Volunteer willingly, even before you’re asked.

5. Try to Understand the bigger picture and where you fit in

This is tough for an entry level person but the better your understanding about what your company does and your role, the more successful you’ll be

6. If you don’t have a job yet, get one
It’s OK to finish your college years without a job. On the other hand, don’t drift for too long. Months can turn into years. Focus your search in a specific field and go for it. Importantly, don’t just send resumes into a digital black hole. Find the key person(s) at the company and reach out directly to them telling them the reasons you’d be a great hire. You’ll get an interview far more often.

7. Give selflessly to others
This is important at all levels in your career. Give without a quid pro quo. Give willingly and help people. I guarantee it will come back to you many times over. But no scorecards please, just do it.

Our son Carl has heard this advice often and seems to embrace it. His career in digital marketing will be beginning soon in New York. Time to soar, our son. You have greatness within you.

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  1. Pat Silver says:


    I love your Strummings — especially this one. Hope you are doing well.

  2. ed williamson says:

    Great advice. Funny how it all seems so obvious, yet still needs to be repeated. When I’ve advised students on interviewing I’ve added, ” in an interview look forward to it as a great chance to meet some really exciting people and not just for the job. That way you’ll enjoy the moment and people will feel your excitement at meeting them and not just the desperation to get a job. It will give you a certain je ne sais quoi that will separate you from the pack of job seekers.

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