Advice from a college graduate…..4 years from now

Ah, graduation. Hope fills the air. As I scroll through my facebook and twitter feeds I notice so many students declaring their freedom and announcing their future plans.  I smirk to myself as I think, “Freedom? Yeah, you just lost any inkling of freedom that you ever owned upon graduating college.”

See, Graduation means responsibility, and bills, and likely a job that will dictate your free time, schedule, social circle, and geographic home front. Oh I’m sorry, did I kill your  tweenage vibe? That’s ok, better me than being smacked in the face first hand with life, like many of us are. You will probably still have a better day than all of these people.

Why must I be so blunt? Well…because I want you to kick a bunch of tail and make this world a better place. It doesn’t have to be as bad as it sounds. A job, career and life after college CAN mean freedom and be amazing. However, it wont if you sit around and wait for the perfect experience. I recently read about social media anxiety and even though I knew about this long before it had an official name, I can’t tell you how many people I speak to who miss out on opportunities because they are sitting at home, being jealous of their friends, and waiting for the perfect opportunity to walk up and pat them on the butt.

Let me explain. Recently I talked to a young lady who told me she wanted to wait to go back to grad school and get her masters degree once she had taken some time off to relax from school because she saw a lot of her friends taking graduation vacations. In her mind the perfect scenario was conquering college, a summer off with friends, a european vacation, grad school and then the perfect entry level job lined up in the big city. Newsflash:  Student Loans. Or Bills. Also Employers will want to know what you did for a year in between school and grad school, plus you could have gained valuable experience in the interim. While taking time off after school sounds awesome, it really only puts you behind, is a strain on whoever is paying your bills, and puts a _____ on your resume. PS, I’m not even sure grad school is necessary in many fields these days, but that is another topic entirely.

Harsh, Chapman….Well I’d know. See I had some grand dreams as a young man….and I still do. But I have learned that taking action and improving one’s self regardless of the scenario, will never put you in a bad position. Will you still fail sometimes? Probably. Will you learn a wonderful lesson in the process that will push you on to that next great adventure? Absolutely.

Example: In high school, I wanted to play football for the University of Misssouri. I broke my leg before my senior year of high school football. Not a great experience, but I toughed it out, played on it when It got somewhat healthy and earned a scholarship to play football in college. Not to my dream school but a great University nonetheless. Later that year my high school track team won state as my leg healed further.  The whole situation wasn’t ideally what I had hoped, but taking action provided opportunity and I made the best of it.

Example:  After I obtained my MBA at MNU I was working for JP Morgan when I was offered a sales job opportunity with a startup company. I swore I’d never do sales. It was  totally outside of what I believed was my realm of skills. However, I knew this would be an opportunity for me to grow and could look great on a resume. After closing some deals, interviewing a billionaire, and helping create business processes that they still use today, I knew that it had paid off. Despite it not being what I thought was “ideal,” I took action, worked hard and it took me places.

Over and over in my life I have found that if it isn’t working like you thought it was supposed to, then just work. Work with what you’ve got. As a kiddo I dreamed of being a professional football player, and if I couldn’t do that I was sure I’d coach. While I truly never really thought of doing anything else, those dreams took me to college. While in college I learned a wealth of knowledge and met some truly incredible people. Despite having marginal success as an athlete, I learned of careers that I could pursue that I dreamed would make the world a better place. Because I pushed myself as an athlete, I had the opportunity to be a great student and vice versa. Because I was a good student, I had the opportunity to meet great people, and land great jobs. Because I landed great jobs and had met great people, I have been blessed to do things many people may never get to do in a lifetime. Everything you want to know or know how to do is out there, you just have to learn it; and anyone can learn.

Summary? Remember…It will never look picture perfect. Patience and complacency are two different things. Know that where you are isn’t where you are going to stay, but know where you are going and what you stand for. Start somewhere and you will be ahead of the crowd.  From someone who has made a lot of mistakes, has been fortunate to learn from many of them and will surely make more….. Take action and Press On.

Oh and my last bit of advice? Don’t wear an orange shirt with a black and brown tie when you walk. You will look like a jack-o-lantern…like I did.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. – Jeremiah 29:11

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