To The Class of 2013

Today we depart from our usual cogitations to offer some remarks to the Class of 2013.  Though no trade school or remedial academy invited us to deliver this year’s commencement address, we won’t let that get in the way.  What follows, free of charge, are several observations, opinions, and anecdotes, we’ve prepared for this year’s graduating class…

Overqualified and Unprepared

Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach…or so goes the saying.  Unfortunately, this is a bunch of ill placed flattery.  For if your college experience was anything like ours then you know university professors can’t teach either.  So if you learned anything these past four years it was, by necessity, how to learn on your own.

You’ll soon find out this is a pretty darn valuable skill to have.  Too bad it took four years, countless beer parties, and beaucoup dollars to master.  But if you were, in fact, able to master it then you’ll be able to achieve just about anything…if you’ve got the requisite guts and determination.

When we graduated college we were already working an entry level position in the career profession of our choice.  But we were also facing a brief stint in the hoosegow for a series of misguided misadventures.  Still, we came through it all the better.

The point is breaking into the real world is no easy task.  Particularly, since your education didn’t teach you one thing that will help you perform a professional job function.  In fact, some of the mantras you were exposed to may actually handicap you.

But you already know this…

Practical Mischief

According to a recent study by McKinsey & Company, “Students [recent graduates] largely believe they are overqualified for the jobs they find themselves in after graduation, saying many don’t require a college degree.  Many students also feel unprepared for the world of work; the transition from campus to office today is anything but seamless.”

Obviously, this isn’t your fault…college is an expensive ruse.  Nonetheless, you must quickly overcome it if you want to have a successful career.  Otherwise, you may do something rash…like join the air force.

Certainly, most commencement speakers are quick to point out exactly what you should do when departing academia for the real world.  For instance, President Barry Obama recently told the graduating class of The Ohio State University that they should “confront the threat of climate change before it’s too late.”

We won’t do anything like that.  We’ll leave what you do with your life up to you and where your imagination takes you.  Plus you’ve just made it through untold amounts of academic lectures.  You don’t need to bear witness to another vanity stroke.

But in the spirit of practical mischief, if you are lacking in imagination like we were, and end up pursuing a corporate job, we’ll offer some advice on what not to do…

To The Class of 2013

First off, you should never endeavor to make the world a better place or serve the public good; the world is full of do-gooders, yet void of go-getters.  In this regard, if you want to get hired, don’t negotiate pay or benefits when interviewing for your first entry level position.  You’ll have plenty of opportunity to do so…after you’ve put a decade – or more – into your career.

Don’t expect a darn thing for hard work or a job well done; no one ever remembers the many things you do right.  But they always remember the occasions you screw up.  By the same token, don’t get upset when your cohorts throw you under the bus.  A confident grin in the face of a petty slight will boost you above office politics and leapfrog you over the little people.

Though it may be tough at times, don’t take your clients’ grumblings too seriously.  You’ll soon discover they need you far more than you need them.  Similarly, it’s okay when your clients crap on you…it doesn’t mean you’re doing a bad job.  Moreover, the superiority this affords them is highly profitable.

When at all possible, don’t send emails.  But if you must, limit them to no more three sentences.  No one can stand to pick through lengthy and inane communications (like this one) to discover there’s no point to the verbacious ramblings.

Most importantly, never show up late and never leave early…except on Fridays and before holidays of course.  Though the hours generally stink, and the work can feel like pure hell, when it comes down to it, it’s really not all that bad…except when the alarm goes off at 5AM on Monday mornings…

Welcome to the real world.  With any luck it won’t bite too hard.  Now get after it.


MN Gordon
for Economic Prism

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