One year ago, we were celebrating my daughters graduating from college (Berkeley and Northridge – very proud of both of them!!!) – don’t really remember giving them specific advice on the occasion. I’ve tried to live my life keeping in mind that I’m an example – both good and bad LOL – especially as a single Mom. Read a very interesting piece on MSNBC last week, where they had interviewed a number of CEO’s about the advice they give new college grads, which inspired me to answer the MSNBC questions in MY blog.
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give college graduates today?
You’re going to have to be flexible, probably going to work many different places in your career, not stay one place as I’ve done, so always keep your eye open for new skills or learning. Take as much career enrichment from each job as you can. Bo open to opportunities. Get yourself formal and informal mentors, network like crazy and keep your work and your life in balance.
What would you have done differently after you graduated college?
I’m pretty satisfied with how my career unfolded. Looking back, I wish I’d taken more advantage of the opportunities I had to meet people. I also wish I’d kept writing my science fiction seriously BUT, having said that, career, motherhood, widowhood, single motherhood, early grandmotherhood…all made it important to focus my energies on the job that was paying the bills and keeping us afloat. Not much time or energy left over to write until the past few years!
What was the biggest mistake you made?
Not pursuing my Master’s degree. At the time it wasn’t really required for what I did. I started it – did four courses with a 4.0 and then stopped, because my kids were so stressed by me being stressed over MY homework and going to classes 2-3 nights a week. I wasn’t available to them as much as they needed me to be.
I tell everyone I mentor at work nowadays to get their advanced degrees and/or certifications.
What’s one thing you learned in college you wish you’d listened to?
It wasn’t so much what I didn’t listen to, as I wish I’d taken more operations management classes – now I’m a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, but it would have been fantastic to have more of that process efficiency background early in my career.
Who was your hero when you graduated and who is your hero today?
Well, my Dad is always going to be my hero to some extent. But when I was in college my immediate hero was my husband. He came from a large, loving, but not well off family so we put ourselves through school with a mixture of resources -his G.I Bill benefits, his partial track scholarship (which only lasted one year sadly), him working part-time, his USMC Active Reserves pay, my jobs….it was his vision and his drive that propelled both of us to get those degrees and to follow the plan he created for our lives. (I’m not much of a long term thinker or planner.) Degrees first, then house, then children….if it hadn’t been for him laying the foundation, I would have been in deep trouble when he died in an accident. As it was, I was established in my career, able to support my girls and keep our ship afloat, thanks to him.
My heroes now are the members of the U.S. Armed Forces and especially their families, who make so many sacrifices to keep this country safe and free.
So what’s the one piece of advice you’d give a new grad?