20 Pieces of Advice to the Class of 2017

We’re in the midst of college graduation season, which means that there’s a lot of advice being given to those embarking on the next step of life: The professional world.

On Albert’s List, graduates, professionals, service providers, recruiters, and hiring managers commiserate on a daily basis to discuss the best ways to stand out professionally. Late last month, I decided to pose a question for those who have walked the stage and into the real world:

What advice would you give to the new graduate today?

Here are some of the themes of the answers given by a collection of people:

Try New Things and Embrace the Chaos

  • “…[E]mbrace change. Start networking. Join meetup groups and get involved with things you are passionate about. Don’t look at it as “I have to start making money the week after graduation.” Just follow your passion with a clear vision and money will come.” — Erich, Creative
  • “…young people should try different things. I know people who started in finance and moved to marketing. Marketing people doing operations.” — Nina, Product Marketing Manager
  • “ Follow your passion!! Travel/see the world as much as possible as it is a powerful resource and teacher. Keep discovering your purpose in life. And more than anything have fun, love yourself and others!!” — Tammy, Administration Professional
  • “ Learn to enjoy the work you get even if it’s not your dream. Find the fun and interest in it.” — Alex, Recruiting Professional

Explore, Fail, and Get Back Up Again

  • “ My broadest advice is not to buy into the false dichotomy. Don’t do things you hate for the money, in the hopes that it will grow on you or you can escape later. Even if you get enough money to escape, you’ll have years of detoxing and catching up to do. Don’t let glamour industries (nonprofits, entertainment, entrepreneurship) seduce you into thinking money doesn’t matter. — Barbara, Writer
  • “Want to be successful out there in the real world? INCREASE YOUR FAILURE RATE! Try things, take risks, and when you fail, evaluate, develop a new plan and try again. Always remain persistent.” — Ben, Marketing Professional
  • “ Never give up, preserve always, today’s struggles are tomorrow’s end results!” — Rachel, HR Professional

Learn to Communicate and Harness Your Value

  • “[Your] degree doesn’t matter as much as how you position yourself, and sadly, who you know more than what you know. BUT it is very easy to learn how to connect with the right people.” — Li, Entrepreneur
  • “View networking as building relationships! Not just a transaction. Take action. Don’t just think about ‘I need a job’” — Zach, IT Professional/Entrepreneur
  • “ You won’t get rich trading hours for the buck. Learn the difference between risks, investment, expenses, expensive hobbies, and don’t be afraid to walk away.” — Margaret, Healthcare Professional
  • “If you’re always the smartest person in the room, you need to find a different room.” — Colin, Entrepreneur

Live the Give and Soak Up the Wisdom

  • “Earn your success based on service to others, not at the expense of others” — Greg, Entrepreneur
  • “ If you work twice as hard at building and strengthening relationships than you do at building and strengthening business, at the end of your life you’ll end up wealthy regardless of the amount of money in your bank account.” — Scott, Entrepreneur
  • “ Stay humble, it will get hard, you will now be among everyone that came before you. They will teach you a lot, and those things you can’t learn in school.” — Leslie, Sales Professional
  • “ Be authentic. Be kind. Follow your dreams as early in your life is possible. Do good for the world.” — Marissa, Recruiting Professional

It’s All You Now — And That’s a Great Thing

  • “ You will not be coddled and catered to in real life. Real life is hard and it takes real work. Not everyone surrounding you will share the same opinions as you do and you will not be given the same safe space to process your feelings. If you can overcome this, find out how you can both better yourself and those around you, despite potential differences, you’ll make a superb contribution to the future of our society.” — Jeff, Marketing Professional
  • “ You have the ability to shine regardless of who is in office. Those who really wish to succeed are not limited by external factors.” — Rick, Educator
  • “ [T]ake care of you first always — you can’t serve from an empty cup” — Cathya, Marketing Professional
  • “ Don’t be afraid to try new things — if you don’t like them, you can always walk away.” — Lauren, Marketing Professional

And Above All Else…

  • “Believe” — Emily, Financial Professional

Onward, Class of 2017!