Congratulations Graduate, Now Get Over Yourself

(NEWS10) –  This is the time of year when graduates walk across the stage, pose for a photo and enter the real world. Family and friends tell you how great you are and how fantastic this moment is and they’re right, you should definitely feel proud and celebrate; for a weekend. No I mean that literally. Two days of high fives and leftover graduation cake and that’s it. Oh and while we’re at it, can I say something that may come off a little rude, get over yourself.  There’s hard work to do and I’m worried some of you are not ready for it. Not even close.

A lot of it is not your fault, it’s ours. This crop of parents currently running the show  have produced a generation of kids who were told “everyone is a winner” and everyone gets a participation trophy just for showing up. That’s fantastic in t-ball, not so much in life. Certainly not in the workplace where everybody is smart and it takes more than just showing up and taking a good selfie to succeed.

“But wait John, I have a degree”, you say. Yeah, big deal. I pulled some quick stats from the National Center for Education Statistics and found our colleges and universities are awarding 952,000 associates degrees, 1.8 million bachelors’, 802,000 masters’ and 179,000 doctorates this year. Still feel special? All those people will be out looking for work just like you and that’s on top of the hundreds of thousands who got degrees last year who are still looking or not happy with the entry level job they feel stuck in right now. Oh and I doubt many of them are taking the summer off to “decompress.” You weren’t a Navy Seal; you were in college sleeping until noon so break time is over my little lamb.

Now let’s talk about that first job someone will offer you if you’re lucky. You are not starting at the salary your guidance counselor promised you. Not even close. You know why? Because you aren’t worth 50k a year. Not yet. Right now you probably know less than the guy sweeping floors at the company you may go work for so this is the time to dial up the grateful and shove your ego in a drawer.

If you get hired, say thank you. First day look around and realize the only person in the building who hasn’t paid their dues yet is you. If life is a ladder you my friend are on the bottom rung and that’s OK, just get climbing. The fastest way up that ladder is to come in early and stay late. Don’t duck criticism, ask for it. Seek out the successful people and ask politely if they’ll give you pointers. Listen to them. Gossip and nonsense in the workplace are your kryptonite so stay clear of it. When people gather in a circle and start whispering about the boss or a co-worker, walk away. Your opinion is you have no opinion.

I hate to be the guy to tell it to you straight but right now, at this very moment, degree in hand, there is absolutely nothing unique about you. There are over a million of “you” out there vying for the same jobs. But here’s the good news, most people are lazy. They won’t do the heavy lifting for very little pay so no matter what fancy school they went to, in the long run it won’t matter, and you can pass them in this race. Trust me the boss will be watching and your willingness to do what you’re told, take instruction and be a team player will be recognized. And if it’s not, you get the experience; shake their hand and move on to a place that will appreciate you more.

So congratulations graduate, my gift to you is four simple words- you are not special. But you can be, that’s on you. Schools out, now show me something.

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