Career Advice for College Graduates

Tomorrow evening, I’ll be speaking to soon-to-be graduates of Manhattanville College at the Backpack to Briefcase event for graduating seniors. The event is a celebration and a send-off. Rather than tell them what to do, I plan to inspire the students to find their own answers. It’s advice I wished I’d received.

I was so focused on being the good student that I only did what others told me to do. To this graduating class I want to impart, honesty. Please be honest with yourselves about what you really want to be doing with your time, your energy, your skills, your talents, your ideas. That’s the path to a satisfying career.

Also don’t be afraid to try something. That’s the advice I shared in Lindsey Pollak’s resourceful book, Getting From College to Career. As a new graduate in tough times, it’s important to have the right perspective. Take the best job you can find and learn from it. "Get miles on you" as a mentor of mine used to say. Even if you don’t love what you are doing, you can at least learn more about yourself and make new connections.

Stay positive. There is always room for good people in the working world. Focus on where you can be of service and to whom. Talk to professors, your parents friends, career services, alumni contacts. Do informational interviews with potential employers to understand their challenges and goals. Pitch ideas of projects you can complete or roles you can play, even if on a freelance or part-time basis.

Lastly, check out all the great advice posted on for fresh graduates.

Are you (or do you know) a soon-to-be college graduate? How is he/she faring in the job market? What advice do you have for fresh graduates? Where are opportunities that you see?

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