FROM WHAT GUEST SPEAKERS FAILED TO MENTION AT MY GRAD CEREMONY

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Today’s guest post is from, Li Chen, a NYC based blogger. She write for Vimbly, an activity booking web app where she delivers the message that experience is more valuable than possession. On a random note, she likes to watch SpongeBob when home alone. Have something to say about The Things YOU Learned? Send me a guest post at: thethingslearned@gmail.com

I recall a very warm day, May 18th of last year to be exact. I’m sitting with my best friend at the football stadium waiting for the ceremony to start. My school invited an honorable alumnus as guest speaker. I won’t mention his name for the purpose of this article. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a very successful businessman. It’s just my brain can’t process another lecture-like speech under the burning sun. I’m sure Mr. Guest Speaker has much more to offer but let’s keep in mind the audiences are 20-something-year-olds with minimal to no work experience. I would be more than happy to sit down and have a chat about “stocks,” “hedge funds,” and “investments” when I have a professional career or when I’m in a room with AC, but not right now Mr. Guest Speaker.

From a full-time job hunter to a part-time retail sales associate to an intern at a startup, I had my ups and downs but luckily Dr. Seuss’ Oh, the Places You’ll Go kept me sane. To the recent grads and my competitors (Class of 2013), I’m here to share with you relevant information that my guest speaker failed to mention at my graduation ceremony:

Job hunting cost money. You are deadly wrong if you think you don’t need to spend a penny during your job hunting process. I purchased an expensive business suit with my first paycheck at a minimum wage job. Bus fares for interviews cost $40 round trip from my town to New York City. I went to approximately 3 interviews in the city, you do the math. My point? Job hunting cost money and you don’t know exactly when you’ll land a job so the money spending cycle continues.

Opportunity doesn’t knock on your door. Hitting the “submit” button is only the beginning. Is there a Meetup near your neighbor? Is your college hosting a job fair? Perhaps a face-to-face networking event is where you need to be to boost your chance of landing an interview because that’s what your peers are doing. You have to fight for what you want because no one is going to offer you anything without any effort from your end.

Do what you have to do to please your parents. Unless you are getting married to someone rich who’s willing to support you, your main financial support is your parents. I tried to please my mom by doing chores while at home because I couldn’t afford to be on her bad side. I also kissed my move out plan goodbye because I know it’s not going to happen without a savings account.

Failure to plan is a plan to fail. It’s okay to take a non-major related job after graduation to help support yourself but you must have a plan. What do you want to do? Don’t say you don’t know because you do. Start by listing what you don’t want to do. If you are a visual learner like me, write down your goals. I promise you, you won’t lose an arm if you don’t achieve your goals but I do guarantee that you’ll continue to live in the dark without a plan.

I’m Jen Glantz. I’ve been a published writer for over 13 years, spilling my words into magazines (ranging from style to scuba diving), newspapers, websites and even this one time, a speech, for someone who didn’t speak a word of English. What drives my words, my site, my writing, is the power of relating to people. I find that many people, especially young girls, feel so alone and quite often they feel embarrassed. I want to shatter those feelings! I want them to read what I write and understand that it’s okay to be a little outside of the box, but most importantly, that it is okay to just be who they are.

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