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Practical Career Advice All Graduates Need to Hear


Graduation is a special time, but also a time of uncertainty.

Once a graduate crosses that stage, they leave one season of their life behind and step into a new world of opportunity and uncertainty. The wise graduate doesn't react to this new world by just taking the first job offer that comes their way. Graduation should be a time of reflection and proactive planning

It doesn't matter what kind of life you've had up until this moment, I promise you there are people around you who want to see you succeed and to help you. The wise gruaduate seeks their counsel and carefully weighs the advice they receive. 

The time is coming when you'll wish you'd listened to mom...

On episode 35 of the Career PROgressions Podcast 🎙, I had a conversation with a very successful and talented mother of twin girls who took the time to share the wisdom she'd accumulated over her career with them in a very special graduation letter. I promise you... this is some "mom advice" you'll be glad to carry with you into your career. With her permission, I sharing her 27 pearls of career wisdom with you today. Enjoy!

How I Prepared My Daughters for Life After Graduation

Hello Graduates!
Your 20’s should serve as a launching pad for your career trajectory. Work really hard, really smart and promotions are sure to follow. Here are some tips that I’ve learned over my many years in corporate America.

  1. Lean in, Be Curious about all facets of the company- learn the why behind communications, how products are made, who is on the board of directors, who is the CEO and leadership team.
  2. Assume good intent of others and situations- stay out of office politics and gossiping- it will always come back to bite you!
  3. Go above and beyond in all that you do- show your value, work more than your peers
  4. Make your manager look good- offer to take on work to make their job easier or take initiative by doing a slide deck or taking a deliverable from a meeting.
  5. Nail story-telling and deck building- it is the best way to present ideas.
  6. Master courageous conversations - don’t hold in resentment, it only makes you bitter, address situations with kindness and empathy.
  7. Show leadership- think about all the angles, interconnectedness and ask the hard questions.
  8. Be aware of office politics- it is unavoidable and sometimes you must play the game.
  9. Network- assign yourself 1-2 virtual/live coffee chats per week-with all levels. Ask the person to walk you through their career journey, biggest learnings, what they would have done differently.
  10. Have a Growth Mindset vs. fixed- it is much more promote-able; take extra courses, attend conferences (companies often will pay), seek certifications, LinkedIn learning courses and volunteer for side projects.
  11. Send Agendas- schedule a weekly touch base with your manager. Send an agenda one day prior.
  12. Master facilitating, and leading meetings.
  13. Build a strong brand for yourself- why do people like working with you? - are you reliable? a good thought partner? listener?
  14. Be vocal- never leave a meeting without asking a question or contributing your viewpoint. Start slowly and it will become easier. In live meetings, arrive 5-10 minutes early, sit facing the door and by the leader of the meeting. Make yourself ask a question/state comment within the first 10 minutes of the meeting- it is much easier than waiting until the meeting is nearly over. As a leader, I notice who speaks up in meetings. The ones that are always quiet are not my go-to people. I want opinions of others to help inform mine...
  15. Be accountable- if you make a mistake, own it, learn from it, apologize, and never blame.
  16. Be likeable- smile a lot-even on the phone, be light, even self-deprecating.
  17. Speak up for your work and represent it well- your work will not “speak for itself”. I learned this lesson way too late in my career, while less competent people were being promoted.
  18. Take responsibility- if a conversation did not go as planned, ask yourself what you could have done differently, how did you contribute to it?
  19. Ask for feedback-tell your manager that you want to nail this role and are open to constructive feedback- i.e., what should I focus more/less on, how did I show up?
  20. Play to your strengths more than trying to overcome your opportunities-Utilize tools like StrengthFinders and Insights. Learn what your peers and managers are and leverage when you are giving and receiving feedback.
  21. Be confident – you are a rock star-own it, don’t play small.
  22. Create a sunshine folder- when you receive accolades, compliments, positive comments, file in a folder....when you are feeling down, refer to it for a pick me up.
  23. Meditate- even for just five minutes in the morning to set the tone for the day.
  24. Take vacations- you will need them to restore and rejuvenate.
  25. Strive for balance- outside hobbies and interests make you more interesting at work.
  26. Aim to be promoted every two years - if that is not happening at your current company, move on and take a new role outside the company- this will increase your pay and network.
  27. Keep your resume updated- you never know when you will get a call from an outside recruiter....

Work is hard AND can be a place where you find a sense of purpose and grow your confidence. Don’t forget to have fun along the way….

Thank you, Karen Digenova, for sharing this special letter to your girls with anyone who comes here to draw from it's wisdom! 

If you're a recent graduate who's looking for answers about the first step in your career or the parent of a recent graduate who's looking for additional ways to support them, click on the picture below to learn how our CareerPRO Pathway Program can provide everything needed to find meaningful work! Your career doesn't have to be a mystery!

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