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Editor at Large

Real life and work advice for our latest class of graduates

Several million new high school and college graduates this spring will listen to commencement speeches full of guidance.

The freshly minted alumni won’t remember much of what is said.

But they should.

Several years ago, I gave a talk to high school students on career day at my alma mater, Penn Manor High School near Lancaster.

I’m not sure if I connected with the teenagers. They could have thought that it was just more blah, blah, blah from some guy they will never know or care to know.

But I poured a lot of thought into what I told them. I'm hoping what I said was reasoned and proven counsel from someone with decades of experience in the real world.

It is why I am repeating some of the talk today – as America absorbs a new crop of graduates into the workforce, military and higher education. Perhaps some of these tips will resonate with your children.

Herewith, then, is my “Advice for Real Life and Work" – tips that, upon a second look, might be good for anytime in one's career.

-- Don’t go through life angry. It’s much, much better to go through life being nice.

-- First impressions are very important.

-- Don’t be so negative. Learn to say yes.

-- A job is a privilege. So is your education.

-- When your boss asks you to do something, he or she is not asking – it’s actually an order.

-- Grab assignments when the boss asks for volunteers. Step up to accept the task.

-- Still nothing to do at work? Ask for an assignment. Ask how you can help.

-- Do not do the bare minimum on a task or project. Never.

-- Make lists of things to do for when you are at work. But don’t let the list paralyze or overwhelm you.

-- Never stop learning. Take advantage of training opportunities.

-- Stay current with technology and all things Internet, smartphones, communications, multimedia and more.

-- Take notes when you are being given an assignment or being shown how to do something. More importantly, refer to those notes.

-- Be careful what you put in writing such as in email and on social media. It could kill a career.

-- Appearance still is important. So is being on time.

-- Make friends and have fun, too. Try to laugh every day. Enjoy the journey.

-- Things will not always go as planned. But learn from it, move on and try again.

-- Have passion and do your best. Every time.

-- Have responsibility. Take ownership of the assignment, your job, your career, your life.

-- Remember your family and where you came from. But keep looking ahead.

-- Be open to change. It will be the only constant in life and your career.

In summary: Be on time. Be nice. Volunteer. Work hard. Accept challenges. Keep learning. … You might not be able to follow everything on this list, but that’s OK if you try your best – as often as you can. Because talent alone is never enough.

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