17 Tips for the Class of 2017

I am still learning and experimenting with how to best do this whole post-college, real world thing. I just wish someone a few years out had cut the B.S. and given me an honest dose of what to look for and expect. Even someone to tell me it’s OK not to know what I want. Someone to tell me that it won’t always be perfect; in fact, a lot of the time it’ll be rocky as hell.

So here it goes. Here are my 17 tips for the graduating class of 2017. Take one of these to heart, or all 17. I just hope you find this helpful coming from a guy that’s made his fair share of mistakes, done a few things right, and still trying out adulting too.

  1. Find a mentor. They’ll be there to help now and will still be there to help in 20 years.
  2. At the office, be one of the first through the door every morning. It leaves a lasting impression on your coworkers and is a fantastic habit to get into. That being said, don’t be in the office just to be in the office. Get your work done and be efficient.
  3. Experience your city. You don’t know how long you’ll be there or where your journey will take you. Get out and explore.
  4. Leverage your network by going out to lunches at other offices, whether you’re seeing friends or catching up with colleagues. You can see how other companies operate, what other cultures are like, and will be able to meet countless future friends/colleagues.
  5. Stay in touch with your college friends. Don’t be the one that disappears. This is the best app to chat with all your friends at once.
  6. Be nice. To everyone. My grandfather once told me, “treat the janitor with the same respect that you treat your CEO. You never know how you’ll impact others.”
  7. Move past surface level conversations with coworkers. After all, you spend more time with them than anyone else, so get to know them. Ask questions. This will make work much more enjoyable.
  8. Don’t worry, 99.9% of the people your age aren’t making a lot of money either. (Bankers, please disregard point 8)
  9. Build your network. And expand this network as much as possible. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and put yourself on a limb. Who knows who you’ll meet, when and where you’ll meet them, and how that’ll impact your journey.
  10. You’re embarking on a roller coaster. Post-grad life isn’t easy. Not getting too high with the highs or too low with the lows will help define you.
  11. If you have free time at the office, go help out another team in your company. Sit in on a few meetings. It won’t go unnoticed and will help expand your skillset.
  12. Keep a good work life balance. Go to happy hour with your roommates. Go to the boozy team dinner. Play on the softball team. Remember, life is still supposed to be fun so you can work hard, play hard.
  13. If you aren’t learning and/or passionate about what you’re doing, change it up. Life’s too short to waste your time. My first job was working for a guy who was a total fraud and had tricked investors into giving him $35 million. We are all learning all the time.
  14. Set goals. Make sure they’re challenging but attainable, track your progress and always work towards improvement. This goes for at work and in your personal life as well.
  15. Travel. Then travel some more. You only have so much time to get out and do this with (limited) baggage.
  16. Understand that you are going to make mistakes. You will get yelled at by your boss. Respond to adversity in a positive manner and don’t get too down on yourself. Don’t sulk and feel bad for yourself. It’s just like when your high school soccer coach would yell after a bad pass. S*&@ happens!
  17. YOLO. Seriously, you only live once. This is the only time you’ll be in your twenties. You get to be naive. Be curious. Take advantage at the opportunities you’re given. Remember, you only get one crack at this life. Don’t allow yourself to look back years later with regrets. GO OUT AND GET IT!

Lastly, enjoy these last few days at school with your friends and family. There will be tears, laughter, and a lot of I love yous. Savor it all. Congrats class of 2017. Cheers!

This is a picture of myself, my grandfather Mervin, and Dean Ellis at USC Graduation 2012. I had just walked across the stage with my grandfather, who was never able to go to college. The most memorable moment of my life.

H/T to my best gchat gang JP & Ana Braskamp

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