Always strive to do the 'Right Thing'. More than anything else, this will assure you the respect of your fellow men and bring you personal happiness and satisfaction. And, as for the lawyers to be, let the 'Rule of Law' be your guide in your professional endeavors. This, and this alone, will save the world…
Axel Heck ‘77Law
The most valuable thing I learned at Columbia was to ask questions if I did not have a complete understanding of any issue. That has been an immense benefit over my entire career. On the presumption you know what you want to accomplish - I did not that but knew I wanted to reach high - seek out a mentor. Someone who has done what you wish to accomplish well and has a strong desire to share that information. The key in doing that is picking the right mentor - and you need to do some due diligence to be sure you just didn’t find a turkey. There many who have been successful by mere chance and are indeed turkeys. At your level of experience you could be fooled. Use your Columbia experience to question/understand and evaluate the individual who is giving the information. Just don’t be too aggressive about it.
And while your doing that do not be tempted by high salary numbers. If you build your career right - creating the corporation of “you” - you will build value. And, that is a good way to think about yourself.
Lastly, integrity is a must. Once you ruin your good name, you have nothing. With that and years of accomplishment you can some day look back and revel in the fact that you did a good job and as good as could be done. Many can’t make that statement.
Paul A Liberti ‘58CC
You may be too close to it now. But after a few years, check their website and see if there is a way to help out. Help is always needed, from monetary, to interviewing prospective students, to mentoring.
As the years go by, the precious nature of Columbia and the education and opportunities it offers becomes clearer, especially when you start seeing the world through the eyes of your kids. It’s a magical place, so help it along and restore the roar!
- John Cody
In improv the cardinal rule to follow is that of “Yes, and.” Say yes, and add to the scene and the scene will continue forward without hitch (or perhaps with some comedy). The amazing thing about saying “Yes, and” is that to say “yes” you must actually listen to what your scene partner is saying. You must listen and hear it, digest it, and to “and” you must then respond with acknowledgement that you heard. “Yes, and” puts you and your scene partner on the same page and forces you to need each other to continue forward.
Life can be gone through with tunnel-vision, only seeing what you yourself care about, putting your own thoughts first above others at all times, or life can be a series of yes-ands, where you listen to those around you, hear them, and participate in that world jointly. Though it can be frightening to get to the other side of a yes-and, it is usually the one that is the most rewarding.
You have just graduated from the best school on earth. Use this education wisely and do something really good for the world.
- Ned Cherry ‘70GSAPP
Congratulations on your graduation and welcome to a large, global family created by our experience at Columbia.
Regardless of where you end up, for work or love, regardless of what you do, for a living or for charity, regardless of your status, as president or personal assistant, when you find a fellow graduate you share the same bond.
We all spent long or sleepless nights at the library, we all know the food places around school, we all cherish the beautiful campus itself, we all are, and make up, Columbia. The infamous real-world won’t be kind, but when the going gets tough remember this bond we share and the good times you had at our Alma Mater.
Tread the waters with joy, we share the journey with you.
- Bessie King ‘10
A few random suggestions for new grads.
Quick, right now while you are still a student: Find some interesting professional associations and join at the student rate. Sometimes you can lock in a student or new graduate rate for up to two years. While you are paying off those student loans, you will appreciate being connected to a professional network at a lower cost.
Practice some humility. I was rather brash, bull-headed, and optimistic new hire. I didn’t see much further than my own nose, which incidentally was often pointed in the air. Yes. You’re a Columbia grad, Ivy League, yada yada. But guess what? Performance reviews are humbling. I was told that I was too chummy with senior management and that the secretaries thought I was mean. Be kind to your support staff. They work pretty closely with the bosses and really know what’s going on around the office. They can be a great help when you need it. Senior managers appreciate your enthusiasm, your ideas and your support, but remember when they say, “OK. This is how we’re going to do this,” that’s how you’re going to do it. Respect the decision and learn from it.
Stay connected with your fellow Columbians. You’ve made lifetime connections with people who shared a formative experience. Join Young Alumni events in your area. Participate on a committee. Give back through mentoring and class giving. Keep that up and over the years you will expand your network of Columbians you would otherwise never have met. I’ve had some really wonderful discussions at reunions with people who graduated in the 50s, 60s, 70s and often find myself looking for them at the next one.
Most of all, enjoy your day. Congrats. You made it!
Noreen Whysel '90CC
Now that you have graduated from such a prestigious Ivy League institution, it is the time to really be aggressive in your field. Take calculated risks and push for success.
Remember that honesty and integrity are your main ingredients.
- Brian Tabaroki , CEO, Candelabra Group . M.S. Real Estate Development ‘10
You have just had the privilege of learning cutting-edge things at a cutting-edge university. On the other side of that diploma, you’ll have to work a bit harder to stay on top of the information that you may have felt like you were drowning in as a student. Follow your favorite professor’s research now and in the years to come.
- Debi Spindelman SIPA
For those students who are global and interested in humanity and seek contribution for helping society and international business - plant your tree in Africa for starting and developing entrepreneurial business (ground floor career opportunities as oppose to marginal business business in the US - with less economic growth for new generational development of technologies that will require less and less of human skills - machines and computers - do not complain).
Charles L. Fields '72BUS
You’ve survived Columbia and New York. You can definitely go after your dreams. Continue to work hard (represent your Alma Mater proudly), but remember to have fun and enjoy every day as much as you can. And when you need help you’ll have the entire Columbia family behind you. Cheers and congratulations to you all!
– Jeanelle Folkes, CC ‘05, TC '10
Congrats, grads! Be grateful for the opportunity you’ve had to spend time at Columbia. If you resist the lure of Wall Street, the establishment law firms, and all that, you’ll not only have a happier life but you can enjoy the infinite pleasures of giving back, to repay the world for the privilege of attending and graduating from an Ivy League school. Be humble, and thank your lucky stars.
Bob Dreyfuss, CC 1970
Keep involved, keep active with the young alumni community. There are so many places out there for you for, from Columbia college young alumni, to the black alumni council, to Columbia alumni association. Every different special different interest you could be interested, and just keep that network involved because you’ll find so many opportunities come from the great friendships that you not only made in school, but the ones you can make from many generations of former students, as Dean Valentini likes to call them. Congratulations!
–Robyn Burgess ’10CC
Develop a strong peer group of mentors, remember to networking and embrace lifelong learning. One discipline does not have all the answers, so inter-professional collaboration is key to problem solving and identifying innovative solutions.
- W. Montalvo, PhD, RN
Do your best in whatever you do and remain true blue.