How to bloom in your career: A message for new grads

There’s something about graduation day that always makes me smile.

It brings with it so much promise, possibility and pride. I get excited about what the future holds for the class of 2019… and I’m right there with these new grads as they take those first steps.

advice for new grads
This is what we wear for our duties as commencement orators

Each May, I spend days (not an exaggeration) carefully studying the names of Purdue University’s thousands of graduates (4,659 walked this year). My role is to announce them as they cross the stage to collect their diplomas. Sounds easy, right? Not exactly. Anathaputhrimanabhan Srithisankaran – Could you pronounce this name? It’s fictitious for student privacy, but gives you a sense of what we encounter. 10+ syllables is not unusual.

Purdue takes great pride in making the ceremony student-centric. It’s an important milestone and one the university wants to get right. Did you know there is an entire team of people who work year-round to make commencement seamless? I’m just an assistant, they do the heavy lifting and it is impressive! There are so many moving parts to each ceremony.

This year, the experience got me thinking. What would I have wanted to know as a new grad or someone embarking on a career transition? What would I tell my college self?

5 ways to bloom in your career & life

Breathe, celebrate, don’t rush

I know… the temptation is HUGE. You feel like you must have a job offer in hand before you graduate. It validates your hard work and you want your life mapped out. Unfortunately, reality doesn’t work that way. Trust me, there is plenty of time to snag the right job. **Note: I said “right” job, not highest paying. They are not always one-in-the-same.** Do yourself a favor and assess the opportunities that come along from a variety of angles, including quality of life. Don’t jump at the first offer that comes along. Waiting will not only help you negotiate, it will also ensure you are in a position that offers personal fulfillment.

notes to my college selfDress | Also Available in White | Bow Heels

Be a lifelong learner

The exams might be over, but truly successful individuals maintain their curiosity throughout their lifetime. They don’t hesitate to learn new skills or broaden their knowledge base outside their selected discipline. Take advantage of the career development opportunities that may come along. This is one of the things I loved so much about journalism. Each day, I had a chance to learn something new. I was exposed to experts in a variety of fields and consequently walked away with a brand new knowledge base.

White Midi Dress | Pumps (similar option, mine are old)

Maintain and nuture the friendships that matter to you

College has a way of forging incredible bonds. Don’t let them fizzle out. Nuturing those relationships and keeping them strong down the road involves commitment. Be the one to start the reunion plans. Call, text or email your friends.

Be a master of reinvention

Have you ever noticed that celebrities whose fame stands the test of time (think Angelina Jolie, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Madonna, Michael Strahan) are able to change their identities and pivot in an entirely new direction? They don’t allow themselves to get typecast or “stuck” in their initial lane. Who would have imagined a controversial actress would morph into a human rights activist, or that a bodybuilder could turn into a big screen star, then become the governor of California?

Similarly, I never imagined a career outside anchoring and reporting. But stepping outside that role has led to new opportunities I never expected. I talk about that transition here.  For instance, this summer I’m teaching a course in travel writing in Siena, Italy. I’ve worked with brands I’ve admired for years on this blog (more on that in this post). In short, be open to the unexpected!

Don’t underestimate the power of conversation

In the age of digital communication, actual face-to-face conversation can be intimidating, particularly when you are speaking to those in the upper echelon of your field and/or company. Nevertheless, it is hugely important! Great conversation (and more specifically great listening) is a lost art. Ever have a chat with someone who only talks about themselves? Frankly, it’s annoying.

When you start a new job—and certainly when you are looking for one—get to know the movers and shakers in your company/field. Show genuine interest in their work, in their lives. Invite them out for coffee, ask thoughtful questions or seek out an informational interview. You don’t have to be a “suck up” to do this correctly. Rather, try to demonstrate you have an understanding of their role and a curiosity to learn more.

This behavior builds trust and helps people open up to you. Eventually, they will share their institutional knowledge, insight and connections. When I started at Purdue, I was lucky enough to have Purdue’s community relations director take me under his wing. He helped me feel more connected more quickly and offered excellent advice. So grateful!

What words of advice do YOU have for new grads? Please comment below!

The dresses featured in this post are all from Chicwish. It has quickly become my go-to for unique, feminine looks. While Chicwish pieces are affordable (nothing I featured is over $75), they are not fast fashion. You can expect quality construction, double linings and beautiful materials. I have more than 10 items of clothing from Chicwish in my closet (kinda obsessed) and haven’t been disappointed in a single piece. That doesn’t happen often!

Chicwish provides very specific sizing information on its website, so you can order without sizing worry. Just make sure you take detailed, accurate measurements. I love that they include length and often sleeve length as well. As a petite (just shy of 5′), this is super important for me. Feel free to message me if you have questions.

—Love, Lindsay

[ Thanks to Chicwish for sponsoring this post]



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