Holy cow, where to start?
I have been writing these “tips for getting a degree” columns for nearly four decades, and each year some of the main points remain constant.
For example, go find mentors.
Also, if you fail, move on.
You are young, this can be your advantage. Etc.
But this year ? It took me a few weeks to write this message. We live in the strangest times.
At my current age, I could never have imagined living through a global pandemic that killed 1 million Americans. Or watch Russia subdue a perfectly innocent country while threatening the rest of the world with nuclear annihilation. Or watch our federal government fumbling over every serious problem imaginable.
Yes, these are strange times indeed.
I worry a lot about this generation of graduates, until I spend some time with them. The people I hang out with are just wonderful. But these young people are very different from their parents and grandparents. They are among the first of the digital generation to have graduated from high school and university.
It has been widely speculated that due to social media, these human beings are wired differently than previous generations. Their attention span is shorter than that of the rest of us. Their faces are buried in their phones for countless hours of the day. Many of them are paranoid because they have spent their entire lives barely avoiding being socially ruined by social media.
All of us, when we were in middle school and high school, went through our days worrying that someone would start some horrible gossip about us. But that was child’s play compared to what the internet can do to a reputation of this generation.
My advice to today’s graduates is to do what you love. I have long promised to write a booklet of advice to my grandchildren entitled: “Follow your dreams, but keep your daily work”. It is a work in progress.
In 1964, when I graduated from high school, the last thing on our minds was finding a job. Well-paying jobs were everywhere. It took 58 years for a similar period to occur.
A young Cowboy State Daily reporter, Leo Wolfson, begged to differ from my conclusion above about the easy job market today. “When I graduated from college, it took me four months to get my foot in the door of journalism and another four months after that to find a decent full-time job.
“There are definitely a lot of jobs, but with soaring inflation and housing shortages, there are a lot of jobs that people don’t take because they don’t pay. just not enough,” he concluded.
At Sheridan, Pat Henderson, who runs the fabulous Whitney Benefits, offers this advice to graduates: “Don’t take ‘no’ for an answer. If you believe in your idea, hold on. Exhaust every opportunity to complete what you dreamed of. Remember that your words still count.
“These students should keep in mind the things that matter – family, God, country, friends and community. Be kind and grateful. Good luck,” he says.
Retired military leader Bob Tipton of Lander still advises young military men and women. “I fear that we have young people who lack the skills or tools to deal with failure. They don’t understand that through failure you have the opportunity to become stronger.
“The failures that we cannot protect them from and the failures that will occur are part of life. I believe that when failure occurs, there is an opportunity to not only learn from that failure, but it makes us stronger and more resilient to face future adversity. I believe there is a connection here with our increased suicide rates,” he says.
Thank you Leo, Pat and Bob for these additional tips.
To conclude, my last piece of advice concerns job hunting. It is important to follow the latest trends – will this work be necessary in the next 10 years? Today’s employers know that these young people have strong social values and they will know how to deal with them. Many young people today are unwilling to put in the extra time like most of my generation. I loved my job and I never tire of it.
Remember this when you go to an interview. Look your future employer in the eye. Be ready. Answer questions honestly. Be dressed properly. And for God’s sake, leave that cell phone in your pocket.
Good luck and fair winds.