My niece graduated from high school last week! Now it’s time for her to take on the world. Or more realistically, it’s time for her to say goodbye to old friends and move on to college.
She’s a smart young lady who’s fortunate to be going to a good school. But will that be enough to make her successful in life? That’s the big question.
She certainly has some advantages. She’s a smart cookie, who has a supportive family, so I have no doubt she’ll do well. But she’ll have to buckle down and work hard to stand out from the rest.
I wish somebody would’ve slapped some common sense into me about the “real world” when I graduated from high school and college.
My mom tried to warn me. But I wasn’t listening. I was so naive about what was going to happen next.
I had a “look out world here I come attitude” but was shocked to learn that the world didn’t really give two hoots about my arrival on the “grown up” scene.
I was even more devastated to learn that I wasn’t the only girl who wanted to be the next Diane Sawyer or Murphy Brown.
“Whaaat? But I’m unique right? I’ve got a “can-do” attitude.”
“Whatever honey. Now get in line behind the other chick who has a better resume, more experience and actually knows someone in the business.”
“Experience? Contacts? But I have a degree. Isn’t that enough?”
I was slightly delusional in thinking that employers would want to hire me immediately if I just sent them a resume. Not so.
“Wow! This is so much harder than I thought.”
I had just about given up when I finally met the cousin of a college friend. She worked at a radio station and knew about an entry level news job. She told me when I could find the operations manager roaming the halls.
I literally backed him into a corner and refused to move until he agreed to a specific time and date for an interview.
He looked slightly afraid and finally agreed.
“I’ll work for cheap and take whatever hours you can give me.” I told him during the interview.
Now you’re talking honey!
That was basically my start in the world of news. Not quite the “big splash” I had anticipated.
It took years of working overnights, early mornings, working for free, working for little pay and working two and three jobs just to get the experience I needed.
I’m still no Diane Sawyer. Never will be. And Murphy Brown doesn’t actually exist. But I can honestly say I feel pretty good about what I have accomplished.
Would I do it all again? I’m not sure I would’ve taken the same path had I known how hard it was going to be. Maybe. But it’s really hard to say.
The world taught me a big lesson as a young adult. It takes more than a can-do attitude and a good work ethic to get ahead. Sure they help tremendously. But going to the right school, landing a good internship and networking are just as important.
My best advice to my niece and other graduates: get prepared to fail and succeed. You’ll experience both.
A degree isn’t a ticket for stability and success. It’s a jumping off point to an even longer journey. You have to be prepared to suceed, fail and accept many challenges. Your character will be defined by how you handle them.
“Look out world here we come!” It’s a good mantra.
But a more realistic one would read: “Hello world. I’m going to do the best that I can.”