Class of 2019, it’s your time to forge your career and personal path. Does wealth-building top your list? Making a difference? Living purposefully?
Guiding voices are all around, from those who have sacrificed, bounced back from failure and earned their spots as commencement speakers or the authors of inspirational books.
As newly minted graduates, you’re sure to make missteps and encounter gains and losses as you begin to your trek down professional and personal roads ahead. You’ll be relieved to know that others have walked in your shoes, and heed the counsel of those whose choices resulted in wisdom, gratitude and success.
“Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski at MSNBC is one such voice. She was even inspired to team with millennial Daniela Pierre-Bravo on a new book to help get across her message to those starting out on their careers.
As a girl, Pierre-Bravo, an undocumented immigrant from South America, worked tirelessly. Desperate to get to New York City, she applied to hundreds of jobs, pushing through countless no’s to finally land a yes.
Their book, “Earn It!: Know Your Value and Grow Your Career, in Your 20s and Beyond” (Hachette Books) was inspired by Pierre-Bravo’s successful journey to becoming a booking producer for Brzezinski’s show. Focusing on 20-somethings, the book advises on figuring out how to land your dream job, acing job interviews, saying yes to opportunities with confidence, the importance of timing and unique challenges for young women such as getting the recognition and salary they deserve.
Pierre-Bravo hopes the advice the new book drives home is that “Young people are not defined by their own baggage or limited circumstances. There are tons of minorities and people from underprivileged upbringings who don’t see themselves as being at the table because their family members weren’t, or they didn’t have professional mentors.”
Pierre-Bravo stresses making your own narrative by working hard, putting in the hours and getting creative on how to get there.
“New grads think that they have to find the perfect first job — the perfect fit. It doesn’t exist and limits your potential to get out there and do the grunt work required of jobs that aren’t glamorous,” she says. “It’s not all going to be roses. It’s tough work. But if you can develop the learning curve and get that thick skin from the start and learn to deal with difficult environments and people, you will have a narrative on how you navigated that, which will get you ahead quicker.”
From this year’s college graduation commencement speeches come plenty of pearls of wisdom. Oprah Winfrey, who needs no introduction as an inspirational voice, addressed soon-to-be graduates at Colorado College on May 19.
“You have to act as if it’s possible to radically transform the world, and you have to do that all the time,” she said.
Recognizing that recent grads are eager to reach monetary, professional and personal goals instantly, she explained that the path to an impactful and prosperous life is progressive.
“You actually do get to change the world,” Winfrey said. “Taking one significant life-transforming step at a time . . . Success is a process.”
Bill “the Science Guy” Nye faced graduates at Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland on May 24. His focus was to open their eyes to both the environmental challenges our global community must contend with, along with their potential to conceive and courageously execute appropriate solutions.
“Your future looks full of exciting promise and, trust me, it also looks terrifying for everyone on Earth,” he said. “You are going to have to make big changes in the way you and your kids live. . . When it comes to changing the world, don’t be scared . . . Take a chance, make a difference. Turn your fear into excitement and change the world.”
With the 50th anniversary of the moon landing next month, author Basil Hero looked to the courage of the Apollo astronauts for inspiration. In his new book, “The Mission of a Lifetime” (Grand Central Publishing), he details the wisdom and reflections gained by their voyages from 1968 to 1972. From their experiences, he gleans lessons in conquering fear and living boldly, as well as pushing boundaries, taking calculated risks and staying focused on what’s in front of you, as well as trusting inventiveness.
That’s a sentiment echoed by Apple CEO Tim Cook, who addressed grads at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana on May 18. He encouraged grads to be independent thinkers and to tackle unsolved problems , rather than getting hung up on what others tell you can be done.
“Steer your ship into the choppy seas, the problems that seemed too big, the complexities that other people are content to work around,” he said. “It’s in those places that you will find your purpose. It’s there that you can make your greatest contribution.”
Cook urged today’s generation to be inspired to do nothing less than change the world.
“Young people have changed the course of history time and time again, and now it’s time to change it once more,” he said.
Michael Bloomberg seemed to have the 2020 election in mind, encouraging grads to embrace political discussion in his address at Washington University in St. Louis on May 17.
“There is not a single issue that is not affected by political debates, and there is not a single issue that isn’t threatened by the breakdown in our civil discourse,” said Bloomberg. “Real patriotism is about taking pains. I hope you’ll take the pains necessary to preserve and extend our democracy. Take pains to understand the other side, to expose lies. . . take the pains not to fall for easy answers and to hold leaders accountable for their words and their deeds.”
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