Dave Kerpen | 12 Important Pieces of Advice You Wish You’d Been Told When You Graduated College
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12 Important Pieces of Advice You Wish You’d Been Told When You Graduated College

12 Important Pieces of Advice You Wish You’d Been Told When You Graduated College

It’s that time of year, graduation time. Millions of young adults just graduated from college and started their lives outside of the educational system. I asked people from the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs, what they wish they were told when they graduated from college. Pay attention to this advice NOW, rather than waiting until it’s too late!

1. Not All the Advice You Get Will Be Good Advice

I wish someone had told me that just because someone is older or more experienced than you, their advice won’t always be right for you. It’s easy to look at someone you admire, or someone in your dream job, and internalize their advice to you as rules to follow. However well-intentioned the advice you receive, remember it’s just an opinion. Listen, but know it’s OK to go against recommendations.

– Brittany Hodak, Co-founder, ZinePak

2. Build a Strong Network

It’s extremely important to build an extensive network right out of the gate. As you grow professionally and personally, your network of supportive industry professionals should continue to evolve and grow with you, along with a point person who can act as your mentor and sounding board. A mentor can also help you strike the right balance between your work and personal life.

– Justin Lefkovitch, CEO/Founder, Mirrored Media

3. You Don’t Have to Get a Job in Your Degree Field

I thought I had to stick with what I got a degree in only to find out that it doesn’t actually matter. While employers like to see you have some degree, you can cross over into other industries and areas, rather than stick to what the paper says.

– Drew Hendricks, COO, Buttercup

4. You Have Permission to Do Your Own Thing

You don’t have to sign on to someone else’s dream. You don’t have to pay dues to someone else. You can just start on the projects that mean the most to you, and you may be surprised how easy it is to turn them into products. If you’re enthusiastic about something, that’s your clue that you’ll give the most for it. Someone else is probably just as enthusiastic.

– Adam Steele, Owner, Operator, The Magistrate

5. Take a Year Off First

I wish someone had told me it was OK to go see the world first before pounding the pavement for a job immediately. That travel experience adds more depth and character that can then be attractive to employers later on. Plus, it would have given me more time to think about what I really want to do for a career.

– Murray Newlands, President, Sighted

6. Work Hard and Play Harder

After graduating college and getting a first job, many over-achievers work 60 to 80 hours a week to prove themselves. Instead of trying to simply get ahead of the rat race of professional life, it is important to balance your personal life of self, family and friends. Life is short, so live each day to the fullest, personally and professionally.

– Eddie Lou, CEO, Shiftgig

7. You Have Time

At 22, I wanted a definite answer to “what do you want to be when you grow up.” I was worried that my first job would decide much of my future. I didn’t realize that I had time to work it out. Some people take five, 10 or 15 years to move into the perfect career. The key is to keep moving into the direction that feels interesting or exciting. Keep talking and learning. Eventually you can dial it in.

– Alan Carniol, President, Interview Success Formula

8. Find an Employer Who Sees Your Potential

When you start a new job, listen to your instincts on whether you can develop your skills and knowledge. Be alert for a boss whom you feel respects you, who encourages development and training, and helps you explore and realize your abilities. The flip side of this is key: As soon as you sense that your boss is negative or stifling towards your growth, start looking for a better environment.

– Diego Orjuela, CEO, Cables & Sensors

9. It’s OK to Interview Them Back

I always thought I just had to answer the questions during an interview. I wish I had known that it is OK to interview them back. While you are looking for someone to hire you, you also want to make sure you really want to work for them.

– Zach Binder, Co-Founder, Ipseity, Inc

10. Develop a Good Work Ethic

It’s important to develop a good work ethic sooner rather than later. If you have a good work ethic, don’t compare yourself to others, and stay focused; you will succeed much faster in life. Don’t jump around and try to do too many things. Instead, concentrate on one or two, and do them really well. Keep your time and work focused and don’t waver, because that can set you back significantly from your ultimate goals.

– Ben Walker, Founder and CEO, Transcription Outsourcing, LLC

11. Your Mistakes Don’t Define Your Future

When I left college, I thought I knew everything there was to know. I was wrong and I made mistakes. Today, I cherish those mistakes because they shaped who I am and made me a better business person, though I certainly didn’t feel that way at the time. My advice: Take it easy on yourself. You have plenty of time and every person you admire got it wrong many times before they got it right.

– Vik Patel, CEO, Future Hosting

12. Remember: Your Education Is Just Starting

A degree is a valuable foundation and gives you a foot in the door, but college is just the beginning of your education. Be ready to learn, don’t think you know it all already, and understand that expertise is knowledge tempered by years of real-world experience.

– Justin Blanchard, Chief Marketing Officer, ServerMania Inc.

Now it’s your turn! How about YOU? What do you wish you’d been told before graduating college? What’s the best piece of advice you got when you were in college? I’d love to hear from you in the Comments section below.

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