I’m curious. If you were going to give career advice to a 22-year-old fresh-out-of-college graduate, what would you say?
- Settle for nothing less than something you’re passionate about?
- Put at least 10% of your earnings into savings?
- Don’t sweat too much over your first job?
TheLadders, a one-stop-shopping resource for career professionals, asked me to weigh in on this topic. Since we coaches are trained not to give advice, I asked my family and friends for help with this assignment. Oh, they have advice alright… So much so that this will be a two-part series, if not three! Let’s start with the young adults in my family.
Career Advice – On Landing That First Job
My 22-year-old stepson Benjamin Fisher graduated from DePauw University on May 17, 2015, and will start his career right away as a database programmer in Chicago. I asked Ben for tips on landing that first position:
“Connections helped me a lot in finding this job. I also asked for help for writing my resume and for interview tips. Then I just thought about what sort of work I enjoyed in my classes and applied for jobs related to what I enjoyed doing.” ~Ben
Career Advice – On Joining The Military
An Arabic major and Spanish minor, my 23-year-old daughter Brett Beeson graduated with a 3.8 GPA from the U.S. Naval Academy a year ago and now serves as a Surface Warfare Officer in Japan. I asked Brett what she would tell somebody who was considering a career in the Armed Services:
“Choosing to serve in the military–in whatever branch or capacity–is a great responsibility and honor. We are the nation’s servants, its defenders. We are the less than 1% of our nation who choose to forego our personal comfort and freedom in order to safeguard our American way of life. However, it is not a decision to be taken lightly. Because we are such a small, professional force, the standards for entry are becoming ever higher, both physically and mentally. We demand a lot of our people–long hours, hard work, missed time with friends and family. To be a part of the Armed Forces will challenge you in every way, forcing you to reevaluate your core values and character. We demand the best of you, and we will only accept the best. If you think you can make it though, our Armed Forces offers education, travel, and opportunities beyond what you can even imagine. Serving in the military is not “just a job”– it is a way of life.” ~Brett
Career Advice – On Passion and Persistence
Next up in chronological order is Brett’s twin sister Jana Beeson (older by four minutes), who graduated magna cum laude in December 2014 with a BFA in Theatre Studies from Southern Methodist University. An actress and social entrepreneur, Jana is combining her passion for the arts with her ardent desire to make a significant difference in the world. I asked her to share her secrets for success:
“Definitely find something you are passionate about. You will be spending most of your time with your career whatever it may be so it is imperative that you enjoy it or it will zap your spirit and energy for personal goals and endeavors. A job that you enjoy can actually energize you and in turn open doors and opportunities much faster than that initial higher paying job that you are not excited about. Also, do not take NO for an answer! If there is something out there that you know deep down that you desperately want or need to do, be polite, but be creative and persistent until you achieve that desire.” ~Jana
Career Advice – On Personal Growth
My 24-year-old stepdaughter Elizabeth Fisher thinks it’s important to learn to live as an independent adult first:
“Your first job should help you grow as a person. Learning specialized skills at the cost of improving weaknesses such as interpersonal skills can be limiting. A first job should absolutely be related to a college degree and get you experience that can lead to a meaningful job, but it should also provide room to explore and figure out what you want in life. Life is long; there is plenty of time to focus in on a career.” ~Elizabeth
Elizabeth majored in Biology and Geology and graduated summa cum laude from Augustana College in May 2013. She’s worked for 1.5 years at the Field Museum in Chicago as a Fossil Preparator and sees grad school in her not-too-distant future.
Career Advice – On Being Humble
Like Benjamin, my daughter Rebecca Beeson, age 26, graduated on May 17th. She was awarded a Masters in Public Policy from the University of Virginia and will continue to work toward her Doctorate in Education. In 2010 she earned a B.A. in history magna cum laude from Washington & Lee and in 2012 an M.Ed. with a focus on bilingual education from Southern Methodist University. After she graduated from Washington & Lee, Becca taught in a bilingual elementary school in Dallas for three years, mostly with Teach For America. I asked her if there were anything she’d like to pass on to recent graduates. Her response:
“Many people believe millennials are too full of themselves and think they know everything, so my #1 piece of advice is to remember that, truly, you know nothing! Whatever you learned in college, you still have a long way to go. Listen, reach out for help, look for mentors, and ask for advice. Don’t be scared to say you don’t know how to do something because most people are more than happy to help.” ~Becca
Career Advice – On Guilt-Free Exploration
My 28-year-old stepdaughter Amanda Fisher offers this advice to new grads:
“Older generations put pressure on us to find our careers right away, but it’s often not possible to do that. Don’t be afraid to explore different options (and fail at them) before trying the right thing. College is more and more often not a preparation for life-long careers. Removing that expectation (and the guilt for not pursuing that path) will take a lot of pressure off, allow people to try different jobs, and then eventually discover the most rewarding career path.” ~Amanda
Passionate about teaching, Amanda is a 2010 DePauw University graduate who taught English in Poland for two years before enrolling as a PhD Candidate (Slavic Literature) at Indiana University. Her undergraduate degrees, both earned summa cum laude, are in Violin Performance and Russian Literature.
Career Advice – On Being Selective
In 2006 my oldest stepdaughter Katherine Fisher graduated summa cum laude from William & Mary with a BS in Biology. She’ll complete her Ph.D. in molecular biology at Caltech this year and begin her own career search shortly thereafter. I asked her for her most critical advice for new grads, advice she plans to take herself now that she too is entering the job market.
“Try new jobs, internships, or projects to see what type of jobs and working environments are best for you.” ~Katherine
Would you like to help me help others?
Please leave a comment below or send an email to Jory@JoryFisher.com with your perspective on career exploration and development.
- Perhaps you want to tell us what you would have done differently — what you regret.
- Perhaps you want to share what has worked well.
We welcome it all. I’ll include many of your comments in Part 2. Thank you!
May our Career Advice mini-series be a blessing to many.