It’s that time of year again: notable speakers deliver rousing words to college grads across the country. Whether it’s philosophical musings from ex-presidents or career tips like the one Dustin Hoffman got in “The Graduate” — “One word: plastics” — there’s no shortage of free advice.
This year, however, we asked regular Americans what one piece of wisdom they’d pass on to someone starting a career today. More than 14,000 people offered their insights. The tips ranged from the inspiring “Dream big, work hard, and don’t be afraid to succeed” to the reality check, “Contrary to popular belief, no one owes you anything.”
Care to add your thoughts? Tell us how you view your job, work culture, career priorities and prospects. Would you fire your boss if you could? If you could start over, would you pick the same field? Take the survey now.
Here’s an A-to-Z sample of the best career advice America has to offer its young generation of workers.
Aim higher than what you give yourself credit for.
Be on time.
Change jobs early in your career — as many times as necessary to find the best fit. It’s much harder to change when you’re older.
Dig in, work hard, listen more than you speak, and soak up information like a sponge.
Everything happens for a reason. Hang in there.
Follow the rules and follow the money.
Give 110 percent. Show up early and be willing to stay late.
Hold your cards close with co-workers, they can’t always be trusted.
If you don’t respect your boss, leave.
Just do your job. Stay out of office politics. Don’t imagine that anyone at work cares about your personal life. They don’t. Be professional and friendly, but never personal.
Know the difference between a job and a career. Pursue your career always, but take a job only when you have to.
Laziness is the worst thing you can possess on the job.
Money doesn’t really matter, and actually neither does happiness. Your goal should always be self respect.
Network like crazy.
Office romances can be poison. Be very careful.
Pick something you enjoy, working a job you hate will kill your soul.
Quit texting, quit checking your phone, and look your co-workers in the eye when they talk to you.
Remember: It’s just a job
See the big picture. Being a buggy whip salesperson may be your life-long dream, but being realistic is the key.
Take the job you are offered, then work toward the job you love. It’s much easier to find the ideal position when you are already paying the bills.
Understand that your are being paid to do the work you were hired to do. This is the minimum that is expected of you. Your employer is not there to make your life interesting.
Value your family and friends! No career is worth it if you’re alone in the end.
Work hard and stay engaged. Boredom is the sign of a small mind.
XBox? Throw it out the window.
You will have many careers during your lifetime, so don’t be pressured into thinking you have to decide what you want to do for the rest of your life. Just decide what you want to do first.
Zero in on your real talents, don’t waste time on your weaknesses. Always play your strongest hand.