Thursday, June 18, 2009

Lots of people have advice for this year's graduates

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Editorial Page

It's graduation season and it seems like everyone and their dog have some sage advice for high school and university students moving on to the next stages of their lives. For this week's column, I asked my Facebook friends and Twitter followers to contribute advice they'd give to graduates if they had the chance. Here's what they had to say:

From Twitter: "Two things. First: Join Katimavik! Second: Read 'Oh, the Places You'll Go' by Dr. Seuss. Love that book!" ... and, "Try lots of things!"

Another quoted a speech by U.S. President Barack Obama to graduates of Arizona State University given on May 13: "... that in fact the elevation of appearance over substance, of celebrity over character, of short-term gain over lasting achievement is precisely what your generation needs to help end. I'm talking about an approach to life -- a quality of mind and quality of heart; a willingness to follow your passions, regardless of whether they lead to fortune and fame; ... a lack of regard for all the traditional markers of status and prestige -- and a commitment instead to doing what's meaningful to you, what helps others, what makes a difference in this world."

A university classmate made this suggestion: "Dream big, then work toward that goal. It's amazing what you can do when you really want it."

Volunteer work was advised as one way of getting ahead. "I don't believe the graduates' future employers will only look at education and work experience. I would suggest they add a healthy dose of community (volunteer) involvement. Lots of organizations need help. It is also a great way to network with some influential people."

Another university classmate wrote: "Wear sunscreen. But really... find something you love to do and find a way to get paid to do it. It's no fun the other way. If you can stay in school, do so. Put money in RRSPs. If you think this is the end of your education, you may not go far. Be nice to the geek sitting next to you because you may need them later on for a job."

Saving for retirement was a common theme. "Start putting money into RRSPs or bonds as soon as you start working. If you have the choice between buying a car or getting more education, go to school! Give as much as you can comfortably give of yourself because you get out of life what you give. What goes around comes around."

A couple of websites were suggested by other friends. Go online and Google Bill Gates' advice to graduates regarding the 11 things they did not -- and will not -- learn in school. Another friend suggested checking out YouTube for the video of the song Always Look on the Bright Side of Life from the Monty Python movie Life of Brian.

A former work colleague gave this advice: "Demonstrate a strong work ethic but don't be in a rush to get ahead and get to the top. That will come in time, but you only have one chance to savour your accomplishments (big or small) along the way. Find three mentors and listen to the advice they wish to share and then reciprocate when further along in your career. Treat your peers, colleagues and superiors the way in which you want to be treated yourself -- chances are you'll see them more than once (on the way up and perhaps in the dips in the road). Respect your integrity and never ever compromise your own ethics and values."

Another university classmate quoted from scripture: "Whatever one believes regarding the Holy Bible, there is some basic sense in this passage from Matthew 5:45, '... for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." Life is hard and often (usually) unfair. Work hard to be among the good and the just when dealing with other people, regardless of how they are treating you. That's my advice."

One Facebook friend suggested never forgetting your roots. "Don't forget to give back to the people and place from which you came. Not specifically monetarily, but with advice and guidance. So many people I know have left the Maritimes for greener pastures and never looked back. This practice alone is enough to devastate a declining economic region like ours."

An elementary school friend had this to say: "Always show others respect if you wish to get some yourself. Don't always assume things. If you don't know something or are doubting yourself, don't hesitate to ask someone else. No question is a dumb question if you are not sure."

And finally: "Remember the Golden Rule: treat others the way you like to be treated. Say 'good morning' to people you meet. It may be the first kind words some hear that day. Reach out to others. Smile! Cultivate a positive attitude!"

And my own advice: As soon as possible, take an in-depth course on leadership, goal-setting and time management. Plan your best life possible and don't waste years drifting. Get yourself a "life coach." Believe in things and don't by cynical. Learn to cook. Eat real food. Take care of your health. You only need one credit card -- and pay it off every month. If you want pets, adopt homeless ones. Watch less television.

Buy a house -- don't pay rent. If the person you think you love treats you like garbage, run the other way. Read The Secret and other books on the "law of attraction" and know that whatever you believe, you will create in your life -- good or bad.

Enjoy the rest of your exciting lives, graduates! Make the world a better place.

No comments: