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What Advice Would You Give? (Part 2)

After reading Tim Walker's though-provoking What "Real Advice" Would You Give Your Company?, I clicked over to a related question posted in October of this year.


My work often brings me into contact with college students — undergrads and grads — who are 10+ years younger than I am. Sometimes they, in all their wide-eyed naivete, ask me for career advice. Usually, in all my megalomania self-assurance, I give them some.

(What Advice Would You Give?)

Tim provides some excellent advice, interspersed with delightful images of cautionary signs. I encourage you to read the full post, then think about what advice you would give.

Here's mine:

Mark Larson (commenting on Tim's question) said “Pick an interesting-to-you major.”

I can’t stress this enough. Many of us get a degree in something and end up with a career in something else. (e.g. I’m a programmer, writer, web specialist with an MS in Microbiology.) Much of the value of College is learning to study, do research, interact with people, handle assignments, meet deadlines.

I’d add:

At the end of the day, go home. Have a life. So many bright-eyed new employees want to make a Good Impression, thinking I should Stay Late and Work Hard. Sadly, overwork tends to be rewarded by people assuming you will overwork. And nothing protects you in a layoff.

Be diligent, careful, and productive. Don’t slack. Ensure that you do quality work. But, at the end of a good 8-hour day, it’s OK to go home. Come bak tomorrow when you’re fresh.

Many years ago, I was in a staff meeting in early December. Management was looking for volunteers to work the week between Christmas and New Years - a company holiday week. A freshly minted coworker said “I have plane tickets to visit my family. What should I do?” I said “You should get on the plane.”

There will always be more work than there are people or hours available to complete it. Learn early to balance your job with the rest of your life.

December 6, 2008 in category Career Center | Permalink


Advice to students... I agree about studying something that one enjoys, with one exception. I hated typing, but it has proved to be a most valuable skill for using cardpunches, writing to Mom and the Congressmen and messing with a PC.

My standard advice is to become prepared for more than one career. If you know how to teach, but you also learn how to run a business, you can go either way. A double major or a trade as well as a degree makes you more flexible in the unpredictable job market. I knew someone who learned construction, got an engineering degree and built two of his own houses.
Flexibility makes the money you spend on education more solidly invested. I wish I had done that myself...

Posted by: John T at Feb 26, 2009 7:15:01 AM

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