Two somewhat contrary items of advice:
1. BE HERE NOW. Hopi Zen wisdom. Stop, breathe, inhale everything.
2. Save tickets. You may not remember “all the places we’ve been” but a few pieces of memory will trigger dreams later.
- David Matthew
Get a job. Any job as long as it moves you forward. Now.
You are graduating into a world with great opportunity, but not for everyone. Many of you will succeed, on whatever terms you use to define success. Others will struggle. You are each graduating into a competitive world. And, in today’s world, the paths of the successful vs. the unsuccessful split sooner, and diverge faster than in any other generation of graduates. I’m not saying that’s it’s impossible to recover. I am saying that it’s much more work that starting out right.
Your first post-graduate job is like an investment. It pays dividends over time. It accelerates your entry into the next job. And the one after that. You need the experience of one job to get hired for the next. If you can’t find a job in the field you want, volunteer someplace instead. Anything to give you the experience you need to separate you from the next person.
Success is hard work. It has to be that way. Success comes when you have something to offer that relatively few others can offer. That’s why there are more rewards, of whatever type you find rewarding, for successful people. There aren’t many to compete with you for the spoils of success. If it were easy, then everyone would do it, and you would just be one of many.
But that’s good news. It only takes a few percent more effort to get ahead of the pack. And, once ahead, you stay ahead.
- Michael Peachey -'90BUS
When you go out into the world, unplug from electronics, remove the headphones and listen to and see the people and the world around you. Life is a fantastic symphony in itself. Be a good listener. Enjoy being alive. Stay away from the cynical and the world-weary. Congratulations on your graduation and thrill to the road ahead!
- Elizabeth Yuan '96CC, '98JRN
Take a risk or two. Be open to new potential opportunities or chances personally, professionally and intellectually. At the end of the day, the best memories you’ll treasure are from unique or special experiences that get you outside your comfort zone.
Best wishes to you for a great life, not just a good one…
- Scott Barnum '82BUS
Work hard and try to create a vision in your field. When you graduate, follow and grow that vision!
-Brian Tabaroki, MS Real Estate Development
The first impulse for your career (money, fame, influence, etc) may not be your true beat. Don’t be afraid to make a drastic change if you don’t enjoy your work mentally. Follow your heart and be with people you admire and find the unknown talents of yours.
- CZ Sui
No matter how much you think you learned in school you have a lot more learning to do. Be excited to learn, but humble. Know your place. Don’t boast, it’s not going to get you far. It’s not easy out there so don’t forget the basics: work late, come in early. Dress for the job you want not for the one you have. etc.
- Sandra Walczak '06
Proudly put your Columbia University educational status on your resume and cover letters for every job you apply for. CU earned me my first 3 jobs when I had no professional social work experience at all. Congratulations on your graduation.
- Julie Ridge '94CUSSW
Identify your internal splits and utilize all the good guidance you can to reconcile them- from both those who are alive: i.e. - professors, adjuncts, fellow students counselors, psychotherapists, google the internet), and those who are dead: i.e.primary sources recorded in books, the stacks.. Don’t let your pride stand in the way of asking for help. Learn how to tolerate so called negative feelings including: frustration, anxiety, depression, stress, confusion, ambiguity, ambivalence,not knowing, helplessness, hopelessness, failure, and stuckness. Dedicate yourself to struggling with struggle. Spinoza sums it up well “Anything worth accomplishing is as difficult as it is rare.” Above all: Trust Your Instincts.
- Gibbs Williams
First, remember: The sky is the limit.
Second: It always works out in the end. Even if it seems like it won’t, it will.
Third: If something is intellectually stimulating and feels good, get after it
Fourth: Don’t drop the ball
Fifth: Be open, honest and true to yourself and you will draw people like moths to a flame.
Congratulations and welcome to the best alumni network in the world!
- Avanti Maluste ‘08CC
The best advice I received at Columbia Law School was from Professor Louis Lusky after we returned to law school a few days after President Kennedy was assassinated. No matter what happens in life, he said, the most important thing is to go on to the next thing.
- Abraham Leib '66LAW
Surround yourself with the smartest, most compassionate, and ethical professionals. Compete only against yourself and then intentionally raise the bar. Remember that your presence matter-be present.
- Naomi Lynch White ‘86SW
Treat yourself as though you were a beloved friend. You aren’t your net worth; don’t confuse the two. Kindness is more important than intelligence, although I hope you never have to choose. A sense of humor is almost as importance as kindness. When things get difficult, help someone else. Integrity counts. Nurture your friendships. Those friendships and good health are among your greatest treasures. Cultivate curiosity. Wisdom will come in a myriad of forms. Please don’t mistake your Ivy-League education for it.
Be grateful for having the privilege of a fine education. Savor the wonders around you daily. They will multiply. Know, too, everyone has their fears; you are seeing their façade. Listen to your internal voice. If it multiplies and argues, just get help. Don’t ever be too proud to ask for it. Remember the ripple effects of your actions. What you say and do truly matters. Most of all, know that if you are able to get up in the morning, use clean hot and cold running water, discuss our government freely and not worry about your safety or a family member’s safety because of it, you are fortunate.
- Cindy Frenkel '85SOA
Become a member of a profession which requires licensure; whether a plumber or a physician, an electrician or a CPA. The legal monopoly accorded to licensed professionals means they will always be in demand and well remunerated. Talented generalists have only a smile to sell.
- J.K. Bleimaier ‘71CC
If you're ever really stuck, go outside and ask, what would nature do? With 3.8 billion years of problem solving under her belt, the natural world is full of answers, waiting for questions to be asked.
- Adiel Gavish '13MS Sustainability Management
Continually learn from everyone around you. Learn what to do; and what not to do; how to treat people; how not to. Whatever you take up, stay determined to be the world’s best at it. Never give up, and always help fellow Columbians. As you age, provide more mentoring.
- Edward M. Roche
Learn how to give of your heart and soul to your clients, but also how to protect it at the same time! Takes falling down, and getting back up, more than a few times. Takes realizing that you will survive and move on. Feel gratitude for getting to learn so many life lessons from clients - without having to go through it yourself! Realize that this is work of the SOUL.
- Roslyn Jefferson, MSSW ‘80
Always do your best. Work smart but don’t take shortcuts that shortchange your patients. Advocate for those who can’t stand up for themselves. Cut yourself some slack- you don’t have to be perfect! Relax your mind but not your standards. Have some fun every day. Always use your powers for good and not evil!
- Amy McCoy Aliberti, MS
Be easy on yourself, it can be hard out there. Aim to do your best work each and every time. It’s never about being the smartest, or the one with the most raw talent, but pure willpower and passion that wins you the job or project. Congratulations!
- Donna Jean Pallotta
At the height of possibilities, a sure place to reach the farthest, we took the path and found out what far looks like. It’s not all-inclusive captivating, world-changing, unearthing, revolutionary as many of us imagined but it’s wonderful. I find content now in thinking that we are human after all and a career will only take us so far in the spectrum of wholly contentment, but that we have the opportunity to take long strides in that area. My greatest lesson: seize the day in every way possible!