For some, graduation signals an ending; the culmination of years of study and preparation. For others, it heralds the beginning of the beginning. In truth, graduation is both, but there is a lot that no one tells you about life after college. As young professionals ourselves, we have stood where you stand now and have (thankfully) become much wiser since walking across those stages not so long ago. While many of you will remember a jumbled blur of standing in line, taking pictures with relatives and sitting impatiently while listening to obscure keynote speakers, we here at Hi-Res Creative thought we would offer up some real advice for the Class of 2015. Here is everything we have learned since commencement about creating opportunities and designing your own success.
Be the best version of yourself. Understand that for every choice, there will be consequences. An idiotic tweet, one bad picture or behavior that doesn’t match with a company’s culture will all have a negative effect on your life. People don’t want to work with lazy, embarrassing or mediocre, they want someone who will add value to their team. There are thousands of people with the same degree you have. You must always build on your own unique set of skills and show everyone what you can bring to the table.
Learning is a lifelong process. You have a degree; you’re done, right? Wrong. That GPA you spent so much time thinking about (or not) will hardly matter in the real world. Education is not about titles, a piece of paper or how many books you’ve read. It’s living with an open mind and a natural curiosity to learn and understand things beyond what you’ve experienced. There is always something to discover. Stay hungry. Think more. Do more. Question everything and remember to always share what you learn with the world because it makes it better.
Work like it matters. In your first position, you may be asked to work for a wage lower than you deserve and do things that you hate or feel are beneath you. Do it anyway. Work smart and understand that the dues that you pay now are a promise of the rewards that you will reap later. You are your own boss/best friend/coach and that means that sometimes you have to be your own motivation. Regardless of whether it’s a small task or a giant stepping-stone, maintain your focus and enthusiasm and it will always pay off in the long run.
Success is about more than ‘stuff’. Don’t even bother comparing yourself to others. You will see people with your interests or qualifications that have much more than you. Don’t worry about it. They are not you and you will never be them. Deal with it. Success is not guaranteed, it is earned and it means a lot more than just having things. It’s about being yourself, loving what you do and leveraging it to make a difference in your life and the lives of others. You decide how far you go in life; so don’t waste time complaining or selling yourself short. You only have yourself to blame for the chances you do not take.
You are responsible for creating our future. As hard as it is to believe, you are responsible for what this world becomes for the next few generations. What you value, believe in and work for will all be important catalysts for what tomorrow’s America will look like. It is up to you to set the tone for the world you want to live in. Too often we hear complaints about the world that are often coupled with cynicism and inaction. Instead, why not be the change? Give a damn. Try. By caring enough to do more, you automatically gives others permission to do so as well. This in turn creates a brighter, more successful future for us all.
In closing, we want to congratulate the Class of 2015 and wish them luck on the many opportunities and adventures that lay ahead. As your journeys begin, remember the immortal words of Sir Winston Churchill, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”