This year I will be celebrating my 40th reunion as a graduate of the College of Wooster (Ohio). I know, that is a long time, yet it seems like literally the blink of an eye. I’ve joined a Facebook site for my Class of ’81 and recently saw some photos of myself that made me shake my head. Could that fresh-faced young grad really be me?
My children are out of college and post college programs so my exposure to recent graduates is limited these days. However, I so enjoy the social media photos and the happy expressions on the faces of young people in cap and gown. So much pride beaming from the faces of parents. It truly is a wonderful accomplishment and signals another stage in this adventure we call life.
What I do recall from taking my own walk across the stage is coming back down only to be congratulated and then asked over and over “So, what are you going do now?” For a young guy like myself who basically lived in the moment, this was a daunting question. Turns out, it still is.
Hopefully, most grads have been thinking about career aspirations and college was not simply football games, euchre tournaments and beer kegs (wait, I just went back 40 years). And so here comes some advice from your Uncle Vince:
- Do not panic graduates. This is not an overnight process as a career is often times a series of small steps, each leading to your ultimate professional goal or leading you out the door because the job is not for you. You WILL make mistakes on this path and you WILL be discouraged. Leave behind what you believe is not for you, but make sure you remember the experience of working with others, following through on tasks and never allow distaste for a job or workplace make you give less than your best.
- Do not be sensitive. This is going to sound completely “get off my lawn” guy but for crying out loud, do not go getting your feelings hurt. Learn to take criticism, it’s part of the learning process. Hear the message and not necessarily the messenger. Humble yourself a bit and listen more than speak. Demeanor goes a long, long way as does hustle.
- Find a mentor. There is nothing more valuable believe me. My mentor was sportscaster John Telich of WJW TV in Cleveland who saw an eager young kid as an asset rather than a threat. He was wonderful and helped me learn so much about the nuances of television news, anchoring, reporting, writing, interviewing. Shortly after being told I was going to report sports, I froze up on a 6 pm live shot, went blank. Driving back to the station I was prepared to quit. Instead, John sent me back out to do another live shot at 11. Went great. Saved me and my career.
- Do anything to get into your field. No job is too small, and it has been my experience that a great effort in a small job leads to a bigger one. It’s called work pride. I have reinvented myself a dozen times and done some gigs that might be thought of as a step back, or beneath me. Treat all tasks the same big and small, then you train yourself to approach them equally. Mailing in work will come back to bite you.
- Contacts, contacts, contacts. This is how we get in the door. Find a contact, an uncle, brother-in-law, former teacher and reach out to them. The highest percentage of jobs are secured through references and recommendation.
- Don’t worry about the money. This is tough because you have mega student loans and other outstanding bills. But I will tell you and I believe what legendary college baseball coach Augie Garrido says, if you are really good at your job, the money will follow. So be good first.
Congratulations to our high school and college graduates. Please take care in shaping our world for the next generation and please hold on to the joy of youth and promise. 40 years from now, you will look back and I can only wish for you a view similar to mine.