Hard truths every college graduate must know

You’re going to have to live frugally for a while, getting a diploma does not mean you’ll get a job, and real-world experience trumps GPA.

It’s only a selfie.

That’s the argument from graduating students at the University of South Florida. School officials have asked grads not to snap selfies as they receive diplomas.

A quote from the Associated Press:

“I don’t have an anti-selfie bent,” said Michael Freeman, the USF dean who made the selfie rule. “I would just caution students to think there’s a time and place.”

Graduation is one of the most formative times and places of our young adult lives. Soon, you will dive into the chaotic job market and join the ranks of working adults—if you’re lucky.

This spring, forget about the pros and cons of selfies at the commencement ceremony. Look up from the camera, stick it in your pocket, and understand once you cross the stage, life gets real.

Here are 16 hard truths every college graduate must understand:

1. A diploma does not guarantee an internship, job, or career. It is merely a passport into the professional world. Now you’re in the jungle with the rest of us. May the best man or woman win.

2. To an employer, you look like every other recent grad who suddenly needs a full-time job—unless, of course, your application promises to deliver exactly what the company needs, like this.

3. Your college coursework, difficult as it was, will never compete with someone’s real-world experience. You need skills, even if they come from an internship or part-time situation. Don’t forget: A personal blog will make you instantly more marketable.

4. Expect to live frugally for a while. According to CNNMoney, average hourly earnings for recent grads ages 21 to 24 are around $17, or 8 percent lower than in 2007.

5. You finished four years of bloated, long-winded 12-page college essays. Unfortunately, the real world is busy and demands brevity. Remember: Less is always more.

6. Your resume should be one page, period. You don’t have enough experience to warrant two pages, much less three or four. Give employers the best one-pager possible; they will respect you for it.

7. There are three unemployed people for every job opening. It’s true. You’d better think creatively with your applications.

8. Order of importance on your resume: relevant skills, jobs/internships, where you went to school. So stick education at the bottom and put “Skills” as close to the top as you can. I guarantee you that’s the first place an employer looks.

9. “Your diploma is…permission to admit to yourself how much you still have yet to learn,” astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson said in his 2013 address at Rice University. Check out 15 more hard truths from last year’s commencement exercises.

10. Your first job won’t be your forever job. Don’t think too much about whether it’s the “perfect” situation. If your instincts say it’s a smart move, then go for it and don’t look back.

11. Google’s top HR person says this about job interviews: “What you want to do is say: ‘Here’s the attribute I’m going to demonstrate; here’s the story demonstrating it; here’s how that story demonstrated that attribute.'”

12. Forget texting, Twitter, and email. Pick up the phone and call someone. That’s what adults do in the real world.

13. To land a job, you don’t have to live in one of America’s 10 best cities for recent grads. You can create opportunity anywhere you set your two feet. Again, create opportunity. Don’t wait for good fortune to fall in your lap. It won’t.

14. According to USA Today, unemployment for 18- to 29-year-olds is 15.8 percent, more than double the general rate. Want to stand out? Go beyond. After a job interview, send a handwritten thank-you note within 24 hours.

15. If you want people to take an interest in you, then you must first take an interest in them, like this.

16. With enough preparation, grit and confidence, you can land any entry-level position you want. Be proud of your degree, sure, but from now on, your success depends on you and not on a piece of paper.

Danny Rubin is a PR professional for Rubin Communications Group in Virginia Beach. He also manages News To Live By, a blog for millennials that highlights the career advice and leadership lessons hidden in the day’s top stories. You can follow him at @dannyhrubin and @NewsToLiveBy. A version of this article first appeared on News To Live By.


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