I wish to graduate in December 2019 (NO CEREMONY): Please post to my overseas address (postage $40). I wish to graduate at the Auckland Ceremony in .
fresh out of college. Here's some advice for a recent college graduate. What I Wish I Knew My First Summer Post-College. Amelia Diamond.
We've discussed some important things to know if you're headed to college, but if you're headed to grad school, the game changes. In many fields, it's all but required, and even if it's not, it might be necessary to distinguish yourself from the competition. If that sounds familiar, here are some things we wish we knew when we went after our advanced degrees.
College is more than job training. It's your chance to explore, make friends, and grow as a…Read more Read
Grad school has a reputation for being the most difficult time in a student's life. It usually comes after a long undergrad career, bringing empty pockets, longer classes, and teaching requirements to students—on top of the stress of independent studies or a thesis. However, it can also be an eye-opening and fulfilling part of your academic career—and it opens doors you'll appreciate for the rest of your life. Here are some of the things a few of us at Lifehacker learned from our graduate schooling that you can take with you going in.
One of the most surprising things I learned in grad school was how fiercely competitive my classmates were. It was a completely different world beyond my undergrad career, where most of us were content to do our work individually. Instead, my classmates were intent on making sure they were at the top of the class, well-known and liked by professors and classmates, and as active in class activities as possible.
It didn't take long for me to figure out why this was the case. Appearances are important in your graduate career, and making sure you're in the limelight goes a long way. If you learn nothing else, remember this: Your graduate career is only partially about walking away with a piece of paper and a title. While you can say your undergraduate career is "proof to an employer you can commit and succeed," graduate school is about learning advanced skills and meeting people that will be your professional connections for the rest of your life. Making sure you're always present and viewed in a good light helps you stand out in a good way, and almost everyone you'll work with wants to.
It's not all roses though: Normally a little friendly competition is healthy, but when it came time to work together in teams or collaborate, the competition was ridiculous. Not only did my classmates want to outdo other groups, but there was real friction among teams when it came to selecting group leaders. Everyone wanted to lead or be the person to present the team's work. When it came to the grunt work, like compiling research, interest waned. Tread carefully and hone your people skills.
When you're an undergrad, your intelligence is highly valued. In graduate school, and truthfully, anywhere after that, intelligence is important, but it doesn't pay the bills. That's not to say you shouldn't be smart, but the degree to which you're knowledgeable on a specific topic isn't enough anymore. You likely won't be the smartest person in the room, and even if you are, you need to be diligent, confident, and communicate well too. You'll meet people less intelligent than you who are better at those soft skills. And you know what? You'll see them getting their feet into doors you won't, and it'll sting.
Manuel Ebert, writing over at Medium, shared some of his thoughts on what he wished he knew before grad school, and he hits the nail on the head:
When you’re young, being smart gets you a long way. You’re a big fish in a small pond. Doubly so if you have a knack for expressing yourself half-way eloquently. In fact, being intelligent and a smooth talker will get anyone through high-school and most of college without learning much at all (you’ll have to study for physics though. Can’t just talk an equation away.) Congratulations, you’re lucky. And also, very unlucky. Because while you were effortlessly rushing through school, picking things up as you were going, others had to learn what would be much more important later on: Diligence. Persistence. Networking. And probably some of the eight things further down the list.
Our society values intelligence beyond proportion. When I tell people that I used to work in neuroscience, the first response if often: “Wow, you must be super smart”. I’m not dumb, but I know a lot of people who are probably less intelligent than I am, but far better neuroscientists.
Intelligence is certainly still a door-opener. But it will never get the job done on its own. Diligence, rigour, a reliable network, and finally not being a dick are essential qualities of not just software engineering but any profession that’s outside the little bubble called grad school.
The solution, of course, is to build those so-called soft skills yourself. Ideally, do it before you go to graduate school, but it's never too late to start. In many ways, self-confidence, assertiveness, diligence, and persistence will get you farther than any other set of skills. At the very least, they'll open the doors for you to get in with people who will be truly impressed by your intelligence—and that's the secret sauce.
You may have heard this advice before: Do all the extracurriculars you possibly can. Go to the guest speakers and lectures. Join study groups. Go on offsites and class trips. Join student societies. Assist professors who are looking for grad students to help out. When you do, you're building on our first point: You're meeting the people you'll make valuable connections with. You're also learning how to network professionally without being sleazy about it, which is one of those soft skills that will take you places.
You've heard it before: "It's not what you know, it's who you know." Of…Read more Read
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you're making friends. Better friends, and potentially closer friends than you even made as an undergrad. You're more mature now, more focused, and more interested in your career and long-term goals. You know enough at this point to not waste time with people that will drag you down or drain you emotionally (or financially). Learn from the social mistakes and awkwardness of your undergrad life and apply it in your graduate career to meet people who really matter to you on every level.
Lifehacker's own Thorin Klosowski, who also went to grad school, told me:
Especially in the liberal arts, grad school is often about meeting people more than it is advancing your education. So make sure you take the time to meet people, spent time with different people, and, for lack of a better word, “network” with as many people as possible. You will tap into them at some point for postgraduate projects, and they’ll do the same with you.
Do everything extra you can: This applies to a bachelor’s degree too, of course, but I think the extra-curricular stuff in grad school is really way more important than it is during a bachelor’s program.
Thorin points to his experience in the liberal arts, but I can vouch for the same experience in the sciences and in business. If you're planning to head to grad school, whether you're going to work in a lab and scramble for authorship on papers, or you're going to business school to learn technology management, be ready to turn it on whenever you're in "work" mode. Reach out to the people around you, work with them, see how you can help them, and don't be afraid to ask them for help. Get to know them, and use every opportunity to meet and learn from as many people as possible.
Speaking of learning as much as you can from as many people as you can, leave your comfort zone behind. It may cause you some anxiety—in my case, it was a lot of anxiety—but it's one thing you should absolutely get ready for. No one will force you to attend those guest lectures, or travel for talks and conferences. No one will insist you go study abroad for a term, or work in someone else's lab for a little while so you can offer your expertise. You could stay at home and coast, and ignore all of those events, just because it's easier to. Don't do it.
You've seen inspirational quotes that encourage you to get out and do something…Read more Read
Those opportunities don't come every day, and when they do come later, they'll be more of a hassle than they are now. Embrace them and learn to balance your time. Later in your career, you'll be missed (or be left behind) if you don't do those lab visits or head to that conference. If you want to be the best possible you that you can be—and ideally, that's part of why you're in graduate school—you'll need to push your personal boundaries.
Learn from your guest speakers and visiting professors. Make friends with them. Unlike your undergrad career, many professors are willing to connect with grad students and stay connected after the term ends. If you have the opportunity to travel and see what the brightest people on the cutting edge of your field are doing, don't miss out because you "didn't feel like traveling that week." It's an excuse you'll almost certainly regret.
One thing you've probably heard is that grad students are poor. Depending on your personal situation, that can be true. Even if it's not and you can afford to feed yourself without resorting to ramen noodles and frozen vegetables, sometimes it's better if you embrace that stereotype anyway. We're not saying you can't enjoy a decent place to live and good food if you can afford it, but keeping your lifestyle neat, portable, and minimal now will serve you later when the student loan bills start coming in.
Even if you're lucky enough to escape those loan payments, you'll be happier for having made smart money decisions while you were in grad school instead of racking up both student loan debt and credit card debt because you lived a bigger lifestyle than you could afford. In my case, I worked full-time at my alma mater for a few years while I was also in grad school, so I was lucky enough to enjoy free tuition (seriously, if you can do that, do it.) However, for the years that I didn't, I racked up some solid student loan debt. Many people assume that they'll be able to score a high-paying job right out of graduate school and their debt or loan woes will be history. That's not necessarily the case (and we'll get to that later), so don't bank on it. Smart money decisions now will lead to a much happier graduation day.
Graduate school is your opportunity to find a niche, or a specific field you want to specialize in. Unlike undergraduate schooling, which focuses on giving you a broad education on your major, in grad school you'll expand on what you learned and drill down into specific topics. Don't coast and just flow with the curriculum—take the time to find parts of your studies that really interest you. Ideally, this is how you'll uncover your future career.
When you do find it, connect as much as possible with the people involved with it. As you study that specific topic, you'll learn about where the best research on the topic is being performed and who you can talk to at your current school that's involved with it. Go talk to them—offer to work in their labs, or help them with their research. Ask them if they have projects you can work on, and express your interest in their field. If they teach your course, see if you can be their teaching assistant, or work with them on their undergrad classes (if they have any.)
Also, keep your textbooks. I know, for many of us, those overpriced books are the first things we want to offload when the term is over. If we were talking about undergraduate school, I'd agree, but in grad school, keep those textbooks—they're usually highly specific and they're often the definitive (and sometimes the only) text on a specific topic. You may never need your old Calculus I textbook from your freshman year, but you'll definitely find a use for your business text packed with case studies on multinational corporations and international law once you've graduated.
Finally, once you've made it through graduate school and come out the other side with your Master's degree or Doctorate, don't expect big things to happen right away. It doesn't really matter which field you studied, but just because you have a shiny new MBA doesn't mean you'll get a high-paying job the month you graduate. In the sciences, being a freshly minted post-doc just means you get to compete with everyone else who graduated that year for a slot in someone's lab. You still have a long way to go.
If you have those connections we mentioned earlier, the whole process is a little easier. Your business school colleagues may have leads to share, or they may be starting their own companies. The professors you worked with may bring you into their labs, or write recommendations to help you get into great institutions. Even so, don't expect anything—you'll still need to work your ass off to get a job.
Similarly, if you're expecting a miraculous sense of self-fulfillment or accomplishment when you graduate, you may be out of luck. Thorin noted:
Don’t expect to “get” anything when you graduate: Most liberal arts programs are about teaching you how to learn and how to think. A graduate program’s no different—and if you walk in expecting to finish some grandiose project or have a sense of completion, you’ll be disappointed. Instead, you’ll walk away being more confused about the world than when you started, BUT you’ll at least be able to explain your way through it a little better. To that point, I’d argue that when you’re picking out a school, atmosphere and culture-fit is WAY more important in grad school than in an undergrad program. Your general view of the world, and how you think about it will be tainted by the grad program you choose, so pick one that you think is relevant and interesting.
Some fields do have big projects that you'll complete when you graduate, though, but the advice is sound. In the sciences, you'll have a doctoral thesis or defense, or your own published paper. In business you may author a thesis or case study. However, completing those things usually doesn't translate to much aside from the final gate between you and your degree. Sure, you'll be glad to have everything finished, but once you start in on your career, you'll get to do it all over again.
All of the lessons we discussed when we talked about things you should know before you go to college still apply for graduate school. However, because grad school is part education, part work, and part professional networking, there's more to the picture you should remember before diving in. If you're headed for graduate school next term, hopefully this is useful to you. Grad school can be grueling, stressful, and challenging, or it can be easier than your undergrad schooling—a lot of it is how you approach it and what you take away from the experience. Have some fun, enjoy the journey, and as they say, consider the destination as its own reward.
Title photo made using Stokkete (Shutterstock). Additional photos by toffehoff, JD Hancock, Vancouver Film School, State Farm, Ed Kohler, John Liu, and Texas A&M University.
You know that feeling when you walk into the kitchen and forget what you were doing? That’s how I felt the entire month of August after my college graduation, seven years ago. It was disorienting to not go over fall class schedules with friends. It was odd to not know who I would see “so soon!!” It was weird to not discuss terrible collegiate decor, such as who would bring the Audrey Hepburn poster (and which one), and who’s mom offered to buy a new rug. It was even weird to not go to Staples or Target. I had no need to; I had an internship. The company supplied the pens.
That first post-collegiate summer was one of the weirdest summers of my life. I was thrilled to be out of school, to be an “adult,” finally, to feel like I was on my own, making things happen (kind of). But I was desperate for a job, a real one. The Dream one. I missed the friendships I wasn’t so sure would survive an existence outside of a collegiate microcosm. I was suddenly aware of being the cliché “small fish” in what felt like the largest, most intimidating pond on the planet, one with a lot of alligators that swallowed people whole and slimy seaweed on the bottom. Every week that passed I agonized about the wasted breath of my last “real” summer. Every day that passed, I stressed out more and more about my future.
I mean, it wasn’t so dramatic. I had fun. I was 22 and living in New York City and possessed more energy than I’ll ever have again. But about every five seconds, I’d think: What the fuck am I doing?
There’s no guidebook for this time in your life but there is — more than you think — some precedent. At the very least, you begin to realize you’re not the only one who [fill in the blank with a projection of the greatest worry currently lodged in your brain]. Of the things I’ve since learned, there are six in particular I wish I knew during that first “back-to-school” post-grad August.
My dad is a college professor. He has educated and advised adult teenagers and young adults for 30 years of his life. Skills honed during his tenure and as a dad have made him an expert at post-collegiate existential crises. He said something to me when I was a sophomore that I wish I remembered that first summer after graduation (of course, it wasn’t until a few years later that his words came back to me): That first August after graduation, which is completely devoid of course schedules and syllabi, is the first time since kindergarten that you’re not on a clear-set trajectory, complete with a print out of what to supplies buy, what to read, what room to go to, where to sit, what to do next.
For most of your life, you’ve known at least the next ten steps: After fifth grade comes six grade, after sixth, seventh, etc. Even if you entered college undeclared, arms flailing because you had no clue what you wanted to do, there were required courses you had to take. This is the first time there is no curriculum, no rubric. Of course you feel as freaked out as you do. Give yourself a break.
I’m not going to tell you not to pursue potential once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, like resume-boosting internships that could lead to big things. Everyone’s financial situation is different, I’m not your mom, and I’m not omniscient. But if what you want is a full-time job, and not having one is keeping you up at night, I advise that you put a majority of your application efforts into full-time positions.
Only apply to new internships as something to keep you tuned-up in the meantime. If an internship description explicitly states that the internship could turn into a full-time position within an amount of time that sounds reasonable (and it’s not an ambiguous, verbal “maybe”), you should still apply to full-time jobs and take those interviews, then weigh your options.
Be clear in your interview that you will, during your internships, be applying for jobs and taking interviews simultaneously. If your summer internship has ended and you’re applying but no full-time job has come up yet, contact your summer internship employer and see if you can take on freelance work as you search. Be patient, yes, but be diligent. Attack the job hunt like an exciting challenge rather than the worst thing on your to-do list, because while work has its moments of “suck,” this part of your life is exciting.
And within all of that, breathe deeply. You will get a job. You are on your way. You are doing the right things. You are not a degenerate because you don’t have one yet. You’re doing great.
It’s one less thing to think about before or on important mornings. Note: They need to look professional and presentable, not expensive. Also, always bring three copies of your resume. Leave the house half an hour before you think you should. Arrive early. Keep simple stationary with pre-stamped envelopes in your portfolio bag so that you can send a thank you card right away. Send an email thanking your interviewer for her time as well. Keep deodorant in your purse.
Repeat after me: “I am my own person and my own path is different from everyone else’s.” You know how a sixth grade class lineup looks like a city skyline because there’s no more uniformity to height and body type? That’s how careers are going to start looking at this stage. Every person is going at his or her own pace, no one way is more right than another. I promise that if you feel like the short kid now, you will look around in a few years and feel far more at peace with where you stand…and then it kind of starts over again. But I think that’s what keeps us going.
No matter the weather or your current 9-to-5 (or worse) (or lack thereof) hours, do something that brings you joy this week. Call someone who makes you laugh. Ride your bike. Eat ice cream. I don’t know how to get you to do it, but try not to rush from this point in your life into adulthood. Skip rocks along the way. Look up at the stars and the clouds or whatever it is people who live in the moment do. Ugh, it sounds so cheesy, but I’m telling you: I wish I listened every time someone reminded me of this, because I have never once looked back in retrospect to pat myself on the back for freaking out about something.
You are allowed to change your mind. You are allowed to make mistakes — learn, and follow them up with solutions. You are allowed to zig zag and go up and down and be confused, worried and terrified. You’re allowed to find new friends, realize you don’t like them that much, then find new ones. You can do the same thing with cities. All of this is fine. There is no grand deadline for you to do all the things you thought you’d do after graduation. Just because you graduated now doesn’t mean you’re done messing up, either. So when August begins to sound like it’s counting down to an alarm that screams, “TIME’S UP! Either get your shit together or get off the pot,” kick that thing off your metaphorical nightstand and tell it to calm the hell down.
But do give yourself a chance to get things right. There’s no perfect answer, but there is a reason you came into the kitchen. If you get on with your life, it will come to you.
fresh out of college. Here's some advice for a recent college graduate. What I Wish I Knew My First Summer Post-College. Amelia Diamond.
You’re on graduation wishes, page 1 of 8 graduation wishes, messages and quotes. See related page menu at bottom of this page.
Peruse some graduation wishes for the new graduate. Yes, there’s lots to choose from. But, take a look and see if you find something you like.
Graduation Wishes and Sayings
Now that you’ve graduated it’s now up to you to take that knowledge and do something great with it.
Congratulations! Take some time today to think about what you learned outside the classroom. You’ll probably find that much more valuable than what you learned in it.
With love and pride today and always.
Looks, brains and now a degree? Watch out world – this grad has it all!
Congratulations! Though you may now consider yourself learned, always remember that it’s important to remain a learner. Make learning a lifelong practice.
Graduating is not the end of hard work – it’s just a break before you get into the new and bigger challenges in life. Good luck!
Graduation is a time for celebration, a time of reflection, and a time look ahead. Wishing you a bright future.
I am wishing you a great sense of accomplishment as you celebrate your hard work.
I knew you could do it, and I am proud of you. Congratulations!
I never doubted even for a moment that you would make it. Congratulations for making us proud! You did it!
You’re on the right path to a wonderful life. Congratulations graduate!
It’s clear you’re on the way to the top! Stay humble and remember us normal human beings.
If you’re wondering how the last four years went so fast, you should see how quickly the rest of life flies by. Enjoy this moment. Congratulations.
Just remember that like college, all things that are worth it take time and effort. Continue to follow your dreams.
This site is a resource for friends graduation wishes, family graduation wishes, sister graduation wishes, brother graduation wishes, niece graduation message, nephew graduation greeting, son graduation wishes, daughter graduation wishes, nurses graduation wishes and more. Also, graduation wishes for college and high school.
Hip hip hooray for the graduate!
Congrats on your outstanding achievement!
Graduate to the finer things. Congrats buddy!
May today hold the promise of many great tomorrows!
Proceed with great purpose – but, first take some time to enjoy!
We’re so proud of the woman you’ve become.
A time to remember and a time to celebrate. Let’s get this party started!
An investment in yourself that will pay huge dividends.
Graduation is only the beginning! The sky is the limit!
Oh, the places you’ll go!
Best wishes for your future! Congratulations!
Good luck in all of your endeavors!
Hats off to graduation!
Serious accomplishment; silly hat! You go girl!
31 Grad Party Ideas from BuzzFeed
Congratulations! We are very proud of you.
Congratulations! Your accomplishment and hard work has paid off.
Our pride inside is about to burst. Well done graduate!
Congratulations! You’ve shown that you can be a successful student. Now be sure to continue to be one in every aspect of your life.
Pursue your dreams and reach for the stars! You can do it!
The world ready for someone like you!
Continue to learn as a life learner, and you’ll graduate life successfully.
Be glad, be a grad.
We wish you courage as you steps towards new challenges in your life. Congrats.
You get to wear a funny hat. All your hard work has paid off, and now the hat is yours. Congratulations.
Your most significant learning from college: 24 hours in a day, 24 beers in a case. Bam!
You have not only graduated from high school. You have graduated into adulthood. Wishing you the best things in your future to come. Congratulations graduate.
You once had a dream, but today you’re an achiever. Congratulations on this very special graduation day!
You studied hard and showed us how it’s done. Congratulations on your graduation.
We’re so proud of the person you’ve become.
It’s official: you’re now too cool for school!
Your combination of hard work, effort and passion enabled you to fulfill this dream. Congratulations.
Your graduation is a great achievement, but that’s nothing compared to what life has in store for you next with even bigger challenges and opportunities.
Your graduation is a momentous occasion that you will remember for the rest of your life. Congratulations and here’s to the next step!
Your graduation is only a glimpse of what lies ahead in your bright future. Wishing you the very best for the coming years.
Check out our messages for occasions like birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, and more.
Dear (fill in name), you have made your family and friends very proud. I wish you the best of luck for the future. Hats off the graduate!
You not only graduated, you did it with flying colors! You’re the best!
Four years have gone by and you just keep getting better.
Good luck in all of your endeavors!
Spread your wings and fly!
You’ll be graduating to the finer things!
Graduation is only the beginning
It’s a time to learn, grow, and share. Congrats!
Today is your day, graduate!
Today we celebrate your achievement!
Welcome to the working world!
You’re now hotter by one degree!
Now this is the part where you find out who you are.
Shoot for the moon!
Success will be yours!
The future awaits!
Looking forward to the future
Never forget your alma mater.
Pursue our dreams with your whole being.
The future is yours.
Your dreams will all come true!
Chase your dreams and continue to pursue excellence where you go. Congratulations!
Education is a remarkable tool – It enables you to do wonderful things that can catapult you to great success. Congratulations on your graduation and all the best for the future.
Getting up early for class, going to bed late after assignments, stressed by exams – but now all your effort and determination has paid off Congratulations!
Graduating is certainly a milestone but life is the biggest learning experience of them all! Congratulations on your accomplishment.
We are so proud of all of what you’ve accomplished. March on!
The promise of future success is just around the corner.
To old friends and new beginnings!
Success will be yours. Keep on keeping on.
Always take pride in your work! Congrats!
Spread your wings and fly.
The tassel is worth the hassle.
Switch the tassel to the other side – you’ve done it!
The future just called and it’s waiting for YOU!
Today we celebrate your achievement. You deserve all the accolades!
We are so proud of you
Take time to remember and a time to celebrate!
As one experience comes to an end, another begins.
You’ve done great and you’ll do great!
Believe in your dreams!
Best wishes for your future
To new beginnings!
You have arrived!
Reach for the stars!
(Editor’s Note: This is the gold standard of all commencement addresses. Read and learn.)
I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories.
The first story is about connecting the dots.
I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?
It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl.
So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: “We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?” They said: “Of course.” My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.
And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents’ savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn’t see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn’t interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.
It wasn’t all romantic. I didn’t have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends’ rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:
Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating.
None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.
Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.
My second story is about love and loss.
I was lucky – I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation – the Macintosh – a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired.
How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.
I really didn’t know what to do for a few months – I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down – that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly – I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.
I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.
During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple’s current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.
I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers.
Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.
My third story is about death.
When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.
Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn’t even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor’s code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you’d have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family – It means to say your goodbyes.
I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I’m fine now.
This was the closest I’ve been to facing death, and I hope it’s the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:
No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960’s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and Polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.
Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” It was their farewell message as they signed off – Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.
Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.
Thank you all very much.
1 – Graduation Wishes
2 – Card Messages
3 – Graduating Quotes
4 – Funny Quotations
5 – Inspirational
6 – College
7 – High School
8 – Congratulations Quotes
9 – What to write in cards
10 – Congratulations Graduation Messages
To Share is Divine...
As a recent college graduate myself, I know first-hand what gifts make the most difference when starting life in the "real world." Here are a few.