When I graduated, my father gave me the best advice I’ve ever had. Dad said: “You’ll get your chances. Be ready for them.”
Financially independent since he was 18, Dad paid his way through college, drove from New York to California and took a low-paying office job in Los Angeles. He painstakingly worked his way into senior management. The company expanded and, eventually, a major multinational acquired it. The acquisition was a break for Dad but he never could have taken advantage of it if he hadn’t been ready.
Today’s graduates face the toughest job market in decades. Give yourself every conceivable edge by being prepared. Identify your career path early. Take courses that will lead you where you want to go. Then make sure that everything you do during school, after school or in the summer enhances your resume and makes you a more attractive job candidate. Lifeguarding is fun and great for your tan and your social life. But an internship shows a deeper commitment to getting ahead.
Once you’re on the job, here’s a few quick and easy-to-follow rules of thumb that will make you stand out in the crowd: Take on your assignments cheerfully, no matter how tedious they may be. Do your work neatly and submit it ahead of schedule. Volunteer to do more. Work cooperatively with your colleagues. Be positive. Don’t gossip.
Arrive early at meetings. As Dad told me, “On time is late.” Once you get to the meeting, don’t talk too much. Remember: Empty barrels make the most noise. Let your work speak for itself.
Enroll in graduate night classes. Keep moving forward.
Be the first employee at work and the last one to leave. Believe me, your bosses will notice. In no time, you’ll earn a reputation as a hard worker, perhaps your most valuable asset in your climb to success.
Don’t be deterred. Keep your eye on the prize. Nothing comes easily especially when the goal is worthwhile.
Joe Guzzardi, the News-Sentinel’s regular weekend columnist, is retired from the Lodi Unified School District.