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A Dad’s Advice for Grads

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June is finally here and that means it’s time for college grads to either take on even more debt by enrolling in graduate school; or face reality and enter the workforce. Since June is also about Father’s Day, I’ve decided to provide some “fatherly” advice for recent grads as they find their way through the somewhat daunting task of landing their first job.

  • Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. In other words, don’t just go into a career because of money or prestige. Unless the money is really, really good. Then, by all means, go ahead and sell your soul. Otherwise, find something that you truly enjoy doing and work won’t seem so much like, umm, work.
  • Look people in the eye. When you’re talking to someone or shaking their hand; make eye contact with them. Otherwise, you’ll give the appearance of a creepy ticket scalper who’s on the lookout for stadium security.
  • Say yes to coffee. When you go for an interview, someone will inevitably offer you coffee, tea, or water. Take them up on it. Most people say no, so use this as an opportunity to stand out from the crowd. Plus, free coffee is free coffee—and there’s really no downside to free coffee.

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  • Put down your phone when you’re in the reception area. While you may in fact be checking stocks prices or reading “The Canterbury Tales,” you’ll look no different from a self-absorbed tool who’s trolling on Snapchat. Grab a copy of the New York Times and read it. Or just act like you’re reading it.
  • Be confident, not cocky. If you’re not sure of the difference, then you probably fall into the latter category.
  • Send a hand-written “Thank You” note to the people who interviewed you. It’s a nice, personal touch that will make you stand out (in a good way). If you have awkward, serial-killer handwriting, then have someone else write it for you.
  • Know your place, rookie. Once you land your first job, a great way to alienate your co-workers is to act like you own the place when you’ve only been there for all of five minutes. Don’t be that guy.
  • Know the rules before you break them. Master the system before you decide to overthrow it. And make sure that whatever rules you break are “suggestions” and not “laws.” No one wants to hire a convicted felon.
  • There are winners and losers in life. The days of participation trophies are long gone. Obviously, you want to win—but if you don’t, learn from your losses, move on, and be better prepared for next time. You’ll always be mom and dad’s special guy anyway.
  • Be yourself. Unless you’re a jerk. Then, by all means, be like someone else.
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