Advice to College Graduates

I recently read an article by a C-level on advice to college graduates that was posted on linkedin.  Just like a C-level to regurgitate trite common knowledge with ideas such as “work your network” – such genius, such light, I’m surprise NASA hasn’t picked this guy up yet.  If you needed to hear that you might want to stay in academia.

Here’s the score. You are in a new game with new rules and the cards that were once held in high esteem have no value here.   The quicker you discover that for yourself the better off you’ll be.   Life was good living in pseudo reality college life without the tedious constraints of having to make money. There are two new players are at the table, time and money, they won’t leave and demand your attention. If you play your cards right you might own them one day or you might loose everything anyway.  Learn the rules of the new game and understand that the last game is over.

No one cares how smart you are, no one cares where you went to school, if anyone has an undue interest in you they are trying to sell you something.  One day you’ll discover how useless that piece of paper is because the realities of life eclipse the idealism of school. School was a sprint, career and life are a marathon.  No one is grading you anymore and for the most part your grades never mattered anyway (I know, I know).  Work is easy compared to school.  And when you land your first job you’ll be surprised at how unsophisticated your boss is, if fact he or she might be completely unqualified.  Now you are a very small fish in a big pond.  You will discover that the pattern of life you have known in school; studying, testing, and grading hasn’t prepared you for this new reality.  And you were right all along, you’ll never use 95% of the stuff you just spend 4 years and a lot of money to learn.  Ironic isn’t it? Perhaps this is a good time for a choice expletive.

Unless you went to a trade school you are probably not prepared for work.  But not to worry, you don’t have to be super smart or even smart at all to succeed.  And as it turns out you didn’t need that piece of paper to do a job anyway – who knew?  The one thing you will need to succeed is to work hard.  Your first job might not be what you wanted or planned for but don’t be afraid to take the opportunity at hand because unlike school mistakes are forgivable.   Failure is called research and there is no shame in research, just don’t spend too much time there.  No one is looking out for you and some will be specifically against you, regard no man (or woman), dress sharp because no one cares how smart you are but people pay attention to what you look like, be very (very) careful who you marry, learn how to articulate your ideas, follow your heart but don’t neglect your head, they are not always on the same page.  That’s all you really need to know, now make it happen.

Oh yes and one very important thing – protect your credit score. That one piece of advice is worth a BS degree.  So now you’re a double major. Congrats. But don’t be too impressed with yourself.

Paxton Calvanese

June 22 2018

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