Every spring, giddy grads file into various stadiums, libraries and auditoriums around the country for their final day as college students. Commencement ceremonies celebrate the years of 8 a.m. classes, all-night study sessions and countless cups of coffee. They celebrate what the thousands of grads have accomplished and, more importantly, what they will accomplish.
The list of 2013 commencement speakers ranges from comedian Stephen Colbert to the Dalai Lama. Here are some speech excerpts that are worth tacking to the refrigerator as you set out into the world.
Congressman: Do not let setbacks stop you
There’s nothing more rewarding than receiving your degree after four (or more) years of college. The optimism, the sense of empowerment and invincibility, is one of the best feelings in the world – until you’re back to living with Mom and Dad and searching for work. It’s easy to get discouraged after getting turned away from the third (or fouth, or fifth … or tenth) job opportunity.
In his commencement address at Texas Tech, U.S. Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Lubbock, told graduates that he twice had to rethink his career plan. He said those setbacks actually set him up for much better opportunities.
“You have to be open to changes in direction,” he said. “Not landing that job with the big development company was just the nudge I needed to start my own business. Closing my home building company – and selling my own home – forced me to sharpen my skills as a businessman and refocus my priorities. I became a better problem solver!”
So if you have to take a less desirable job until you find what you really want, don’t sweat it. Look at it as an opportunity to grow and try something new.
Twitter CEO: Don’t Think What You’re Doing Doesn’t Matter
Whether it’s an entry-level sales job or a hostess at a restaurant, go in every day like the company couldn’t function without you, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo told graduates at the University of Michigan.
“Take the time to do your job right,” he said, according to CNBC. “Take the time to get to know your co-workers. Take the time to show your boss that you care about the company. Make an effort, even when you feel like no one notices. Trust me, they do. … Not only can you not plan the impact you’re going to have, you often won’t recognize it even while you’re having it.”
Costolo also reminded graduates to take pride in their career.
“When you are doing what you love to do you become resilient because that is the habit you create for yourself. You create a habit of taking chances on yourself and making bold choices in service to doing what you love.”
President Obama: Your Dream Job Is Out There
Drudging through the want ads for months on end with no call for an interview is disheartening. So is landing a job that you thought you wanted and realizing you hate it. Don’t think you have to stick to a career just because it’s what you majored in. Branch out. Look for opportunities with a company that treats its employees well or makes you feel fulfilled. Yes, the purpose of a job is to make money, but the purpose of a career is to inspire you.
In his address earlier this month at Morehouse College, President Barack Obama encouraged graduates to never stop working toward what they want. He also said to remember that people all over the world will be fighting for the same thing.
“In today’s hyperconnected, hypercompetitive world with millions of young people from China and India and Brazil – many of whom started with a whole lot less than all of you did – all of them entering the global workforce alongside you, nobody is going to give you anything that you have not earned,” the president said.
So congrats, new grads. Let your degree inspire you to start at the bottom, work hard and make a name not for yourself, but for your work ethic and dedication.