Advice for a recent graduate
Travel is no longer only for the rich. With budget airlines, AirBnB, and Couchsurfer, there are virtually no places on the Earth that we can't get to without a little bit of saving, persistence and creativity. Traveling and spending time in other cultures and places will broaden your perspective and give you a better understanding of the world that people who have never traveled don't have. It will serve you well for the rest of your life. I wish I had traveled more in my youth.
2. Only take advice from people that have accomplished what you want to accomplish
Many people get all of their advice from their parents. This is a good strategy if you want to do what your parents did and think how your parents think. But if you want to do something else, seek advice from others who've done what you want to do. Often, parents have these ideas for how they want their children's adult lives to turn out, and it's not always the best path. And many parents can't be objective when considering their children's strenghts/weaknesses, as they're clearly biased.
3. Try not to care too much about what others think of you (admittedly not easy to do)
We all like to be liked, but it can come at a cost. If we always base our decisions on what others think, we're always a slave to other people's opinions. Not caring too much about what others think of what you do and say will give you a refreshing sense of freedom and independence.
4. Stop drinking
If you spent 4 years on an American college campus, you were likely exposed to the significant (and glorified) alcohol culture. Perhaps you participated heavily in it. If it's become a habit, do yourself a favor and stop it. Alchoholism is an insidious disease. I've seen it ruin peoples lives gradually and in an instant.
5. Build a strong network
You'll encounter difficult times. Everyone does. In those times, you'll be able to rely on your network to help get you through them.
6. Be kind
As you get older, you'll be exposed more and more to friends/families/colleagues who all have different challenges in their lives. Some of them are financial, some of them are health related, some of them have to do with abuse and traumas they experienced, and the list goes on and on. Until you've experienced the challenge they've experienced, you can't truly understand. Be kind.
7. Learn to sell
Jobs are no longer safe or reliable. If you learn how to sell, you'll be less likely to be forced to take a job that you hate for someone that doesn't have your best interests in mind, and that's no fun. Trust me - I've been there and it's awful. Adopt the mindset that everyone is in sales....you're either selling a product or a service directly, and if you aren't, you're selling your work experience, your resume, your ideas, your deliverables, your expertise, etc. Everyone is in sales to some degree.
I'm still working on this. It allows you to take your power back and not be a victim. The energy and emotion you have so deeply invested in a certain person/situation is now free to be moved to someone/something that is positive for your growth and emotional, psychological, and physical health. You are no longer chained to an entity that saps your energy and takes the life out of you. And freeing yourself may allow you to see this person/situation in a whole different light. Instead of focusing on all the negatives, forgiving may allow you to remember all of the positives that once were, and probably still are there.
9. Work hard, but don't work too hard
There's this unhealthy obsession with hard work in America. You'll encounter many "work martyrs" in the workplace. They like to brag about the number of hours they're putting in every week like it's a badge of honor. Getting exploited by some jerk boss who would put you and your family on the street in a heartbeat without a second thought is not a situation that you should seek out and it's certainly not something that you should brag about. Do you work, do it well, and when it's time to go home, leave on time. You don't benefit by working an insane amount of hours (unless you have a stake in the business/project), your bosses do. And what good will all that hard work do if you die of a heart attack in your 40's/50's?
10. Become thrifty
When your first starting out, you'll presumably have a modest salary. Build strong frugal (not cheap) living/spending habits that last a lifetime. They will allow you to save during good times (and avoid giving all of your money to the companies that bombard us with 10,000 advertisements on a daily basis), and survive during hard times.
11. Seriously consider NOT going to graduate school
I know that many graduates consider continuing their formal education. If you want to be a lawyer or Dr., this is a non-negotiable. But if you're not sure of what you want to do, or if you do have an idea of what you want to do and a graduate degree isn't required to achieve it, I would think long and hard about it. The enormous cost of graduate school is a burden many will never escape, and the hoped for returns of earning one are not guaranteed. If you find an employer who will pay for it, or if you're so brilliant, a school will give you scholarship to cover the majority of it, then by all means, pursue a graduate degree. But don't take on enormous personal debt for it. It's a trap.