Career Advice for College Graduates

My oldest daughter will graduate from Syracuse University this week and start her professional career next month. Here’s the advice I gave her:

1) Be professional- recognize the difference between your personal and professional life. Dress for work. Speak and write professionally. Don’t use social media for personal purposes. Never have more than one drink at a work event. Limit how much personal information you share.

2) Be thankful- recognize how fortunate you are to be given a professional opportunity. Thank those who helped you along the way. Thank those who will help you at work.

3) Be kind-don’t talk about others; leave the gossiping to others. Recognize that we all have our strengths and challenges. Remember that you were once that scared and nervous intern. Help others. Embrace diversity.

4) Work hard. Even if the task is to make 25 copies of a document, make the best damn set of copies possible. And then ask if there is more you can do to be helpful.

5) Work to understand your boss—what he/she needs, how they like to be asked questions, updated on information. It is your job to adjust your style to what they need and not the other way around.

6) Be resourceful- try to figure out things on your own. If you identify an issue be sure to also identify some possible solutions. Learn as much as you can about your department, your company, and your industry.

7) Be accountable. If you mess up, admit it and take responsibility for correcting what needs to be fixed.

8) Be honest- always. The real test of integrity is what you do when no one is looking. Be known as the person who always does the right thing, even when it is difficult.

9) Be humble-recognize that you have weaknesses and have a lot to learn. Set a yearly goal to become better at something- public speaking, building relationships, developing a professional network, working with difficult people, etc.

10) Believe in yourself. And if you ever find that you’re doubting yourself, call home. We will be there to remind you just how wonderful you are.

About Mary C. Finlay Coaching and Mentoring

Mary Finlay is a Professor of Practice at the Simmons School of Management where she teaches courses on Strategic Thinking and Analytical Decision Making, Healthcare IT Management, and Project Management. She is also program faculty for the Harvard School of Public Health’s programs on Project Management and Strategic Leadership of IT. She does selective consulting engagements in the areas of individual and organizational effectiveness. Previously, she was the Deputy Chief Information officer of Partners HealthCare System, Inc. and Chief Information Officer of Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Ms. Finlay is the former Chair of the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council, an association of 500 members. She currently serves on the board of YearUp and the Boston Chapter of SIM (Society of Information Management). She has been recognized with leadership awards from the Simmons School of Management, CIO, the New England Business and Technology Association, and Babson College. She received her BA from Allegheny College and her MBA from the Simmons School of Management.
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