imagesAlthough there are clear obstacles to finding work, there are also a lot of big opportunities that students can take advantage of. The following are ten things that new graduates should do to get ahead in their careers. Of course, older generations can benefit from these too.

Advice from Dan Schawbel

1. Think of your career as a series of experiences. The most optimistic and intelligent way to look at your career isn’t how long you stay with one employer or that you focus on what you majored in at college. You need to collect experiences throughout your careers, whether that be with five employers or ten, with one business function or five or in one country or three. The idea is that you need to be a lifelong learner if you want to make an impact, succeed and feel accomplished. The experiences you have expand your world view, give you new perspectives and make you a more interesting person.

2. Don’t settle for a job you’re not passionate about. A lot of people are pushing college graduates to just get a job to pay the bills and that isn’t the greatest advice because research shows that you won’t last long there if you do. Furthermore, no smart company is going to have someone who is only there to make money because there’s always someone else who wants it more. When you’re passionate about your job, you’re excited, you work longer hours and end up accomplishing much more. Life is too short to settle for a career that you hate!

3. Focus on making a big impact immediately. The quicker you make an impact in a company the more attention and support you will get. Millennials understand this well because they won’t want to wait five years to get on a project where they can make this type of impact. Starting on day one, you have to learn as much as possible and start mastering your job so you can latch on to the bigger projects faster and prove yourself. By doing this, you will explode your career and become more valuable in your company, which will increase your pay, title and you’ll get to work on better projects.

4. Take risks early and often in your career. One of the important lessons this economy has taught us is that not taking risks is risky. There is so much out of our control and if we just keep doing what we did yesterday, we can’t get ahead. By taking a risk, you are putting yourself in a position to learn, whether you succeed or fail. You’re also showing to your management that you’re willing to put your reputation on the line to make things happen. As we become an ever more entrepreneurial society, those that take risks, both inside and outside of the corporate walls, will become more successful.

5. Spend more time with people than with your laptop. Students are plugged in and don’t understand that he strongest relationship are formed in person, not online. I constantly see students looking down at their iPhones and iPad’s instead of at people’s faces and it’s a missed opportunity. Soft skills will always become more cherished in companies so it’s important to drop your technology and actually communicate with people. People hire you, not technology and you have to remember that!

6. Measure your work outcomes and build case studies. If you look at any student resume, they almost always look the same. They have the same fields (education, experience, school activities). Under their experience fields, they list a company and then general information such as “Managed XXX project”. They dress up their experience bullets so they can turn menial tasks into something more marketable. The problem is that recruiters today, and especially in the future, are looking for outcomes. They want to know the numeric impact you’re having on a company through your work, which means increasing revenue or decreasing costs. Always think about measuring your projects and keeping track of the results because that’s what’s going to help you justify promotions.

7. Sacrifice today to position yourself for tomorrow. You can’t have everything you want today so you need to work hard to put yourself in a better position in the future. From 2007 to 2009, I put in over one hundred hours a week working on something I loved. As a result, now I have the freedom to do what I want, when I want. While others would have used that same time to go out every night and party, I realized the bigger picture and you can too. The more you do early in your career, the more it will pay off later in life and you will be thankful just like I am.

8. Start your own website to centralize your work profile. You need a single place where you can store everything you accomplish and that should be a website under your name ( By doing this, you can easily refer others to your work, whether it be hiring managers or for freelance projects. As you grow and develop your career, add new projects, education, skills and examples of your work to your website. Your website is a living, breathing resume that is always available to people even when you’re asleep.

9. Travel as much as you can, while learning about cultures and languages. We live in a global marketplace now and companies are looking to expand and hire the best talent, regardless of location. The more you travel and experience the world, the better you will be at serving this marketplace and taking advantage of it. Furthermore, if you’re learning new languages, you are ahead of the curve. It’s hard for companies to find workers who are fluent in languages so if that’s you, you become more marketable.

10. Locate mentors who live your desired lifestyle. Most students aren’t selective about mentors and just feel fortunate to have them in the first place. I believe you need to choose the right mentor, who you can support and who has time to support you. That person should be someone in your industry who is living the lifestyle that you dream of. This way, they can tell you exactly what you need to do each day to get to their level. For instance, if you want to travel and do consulting in the future then find someone who has a job at McKinsey or Accenture to mentor you. Based on your meetings with them, you might even decide that the consulting lifestyle isn’t a good match for you after all.


  1. If you were
    me, what would you do?



    I’m entirely
    the artist, tired and wearied, yet observant, hopeful, eager to alter the world
    for a lighter version. My novels are filled with poetry, heart, art, and tales
    of darkness, depth, homelessness, depression, intimate partner violence, all
    based upon my interpretations of real events.

    I have always had the gift of being a
    storyteller, and, I have funneled that gift into five manuscripts which I have
    a desire to publish (as the sixth is a compilation of my poetry), so that the
    world may have another message, another tale that might inspire, change, and
    advance this world. I also want to work to end homelessness on a world scale. I
    just have to find the right way in which to do it.

    I have six books that I’m seeking
    representation and publishing for! I hope to soon follow in the steps of Khaled
    Hosseini, Maya Angelou, Robert Frost, and Richard Wright for the following

    I’d say that my books have the realism of
    Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns), the shock and boldness
    and accuracy of Richard Wright (Black Boy, Native Son), the poetry of Dr. Maya
    Angelou and Robert Frost, the bildungsroman of J.D. Salinger, and the perilous
    romance of Ian McEwan (Atonement). But, too, the passion of myself, the words
    of a 21st century youth, on the brink of adulthood with the ambition and
    hopefulness everyone first holds. I hope that you might be able to help me.

    In the words of my architecture professor, my
    desire to be published is like “Horton Hears A Who… you know, you have to
    believe in it… at some point (praise the Lord ^.^) you’re going to have to hear
    a Who… at some point, you’re going to have to believe in what you’re doing”
    and, I believe in this. Thank you for seeking to connect!

    . I am 22,
    right now, and, I have a passion: writing. I have six books in my belt but no
    one who will actually do anything about helping me in my struggle to have those
    words published outside of giving me advice to find a literary agent; a seeming
    impossibility when no one wants to take a risk on the 22 year old newcomer that
    has not a name. Everyone says be young, follow your passion, yet, when I say
    that I want to follow my passion, no one wants to help me unlock the door,
    though they see that my arms are full. What am I to do? Self-confidence and
    patience won’t help me with loan-repayment. Must I settle in a ten-year job I
    hate just to pay the bills when I could just do what I love, which is continue
    writing, if only I could share it with someone other than my jump drive device?

    For we who
    are 22 could use a bit more help and less advice in our lives. I have four years of University and a degree
    worth of advice from the world’s best scholars and writers, etc. What I need, being currently 22 with six
    books that no one wants to help publish, is not more words, not more
    encouragement or people telling me to stick with it, that I can publish the
    books if I just hold out, or to work a job outside of my interest, just to at
    least start paying back loans that I cannot afford. What we, the current generation of
    22-year-olds, need is not our parents and the prior generations telling us to
    live and be young, or simply telling us what to do or to believe and hold
    out. What we need is a bit more than
    faith in our abilities or that everything will turn out right. Surely, we have that. What we need is someone who has walked the
    path we are currently treading upon to give us a hand up, not a hand out. Help us to achieve our goals, don’t simply
    tell us that we can.

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