Saturday, June 05, 2010


What advice would you give to graduating students about to embark on their career?

I have been pondering this for a few weeks now since I was asked to speak at the Convocation for students graduating from the Early Childhood Education program at Sheridan College.

Suddenly clich├ęd phrases like “find your passion” seem overused and what does that mean anyway? In a recent blog, Seth Godin brought up the whole art of speaking simply instead of trying to impress or confuse the listener with a stream of words that frankly amount to nothing. And I agree. But then I have always been of the ilk that what you see, is what you get.

I have ten minutes to share the wisdom I have learned in over 40 years of working. Hmm. Where to start? I’ve decided to focus on taking risks and being open to new opportunities. Perhaps that’s my entrepreneurial spirit speaking out, but I would hate to see young people stuck, although with the way they seem to skip from one job to the next, this may not be a concern for them.

But it’s not so much about the job jumping, it’s about being open to changing careers. I find that young people sometimes think that once they have settled on a career, that’s it, whether they like it or not. I don’t know about you, but I have had a very eclectic career working in different sectors, although admittedly always focusing on women or children.

When I think of all the lessons I have learned, it has always been when I have stretched myself or made an error in judgement. Note I don’t say mistake, because I don’t think they are mistakes – they are lessons I had to learn, and sometimes the hard way.

Truth of the matter is, no matter what I say on Wednesday, these young people will go forward and learn their own lessons. You just want them to do so with their self-esteem in tact and surrounded by people who care for them.

It takes me back to my early days of teaching a program called Your Child’s Self Esteem, where the two key ingredients to having high self-esteem are believing “I am lovable” and “I am worthwhile.” Seems to me the same applies to us as adults.

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