Graduates Go to School Always

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With college graduates scrambling to find jobs – if they haven’t already – I want to remind you that school is never done. If you are smart, you will be “in school” all of your lives. Your real education is just beginning.

Here are a couple lessons, which weren’t necessarily covered in school. If you’ve been out of school, The University of Minnesota, for a few years – or a lot of years – this advice is still for you; consider it a refresher course.

Develop relationships and keep networking. If I had to name the single characteristic shared by all the truly successful people I’ve met over a lifetime, I’d say it is the ability to create and nurture a network of contacts. Start strengthening your relationships now, so they’ll be in place when you really need them later. In the classroom it was mostly about your individual performance. Success in real life will require relationships. Who you know determines how effectively you can apply what you know. So stay in touch.

Find advisors and mentors. Advisors will not be assigned to you, as in school. You should actively seek your own mentors. And remember, mentors change over a lifetime. Start connecting with people you respect who can help you get a leg up in each aspect of your life, personal and professional. Make it as easy and convenient as possible for them to talk with you, and always look for ways to contribute to their success, too.

If you want to succeed in life and work, keep on learning. I’m a big believer in lifelong learning. You don’t go to school once for a lifetime; you are in school all of your life. So make continuing education a priority.

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