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Graduation Advice: What I Wish I Had Known When I Graduated From College


Graduation Advice: What I Wish I Had Known When I Graduated From College

Honest answers from Bentley University faculty, staff and alumni.


Career Advice

As college students get ready to graduate, there will be no shortage of advice: best jobs, best cities to live, best ways to keep in touch with classmates.

But beyond the many lists of “bests,” we asked Bentley faculty, staff and alumni to share what they wish they had known when they graduated from college. And here’s what they said:

  1. “Don’t lose who you are. It may sound like simple advice, but it can help set you on the right path for your professional journey. You were hired or accepted into graduate school for a reason. To get ahead does not mean you need to change who you are. Be the most confident version of yourself possible and it will pay off.”
    ~Gloria Cordes Larson, university president
  2. “I wish I had realized that you don’t need to know exactly what you want to do with your life when you leave college. Don’t try to plan everything; be open to new opportunities -- they will come!”
    ~Jeffrey Moriarty, associate professor and chair of philosophy
  3. “Don't get overly impatient if you don't get promoted as quickly as you'd like. I've seen many people leave organizations within a year and always have to settle for entry level roles because they haven't built up their skills needed to advance their career.”
    ~Jay Green ’07, MBA ’15
  4. “I wish I had known that I was going to make mistakes and it would be ok; that learning from those mistakes would benefit me greatly down the road.”
    ~Barbara Stevens, head coach, women’s basketball

    Read more of Stevens' advice on why resilience is crucial in life.
  5. “It’s ok to say ‘no’ in order to seek balance and have downtime. Book ‘I appointments’ into your week for exercise, time without technology, a night at home, or creative activities outside of work. You’ll be more productive and feel less burn out.”
    ~Jessica Greher Traue, director of wellness & prevention
  6. “I wish I had known how much you could do, and how much anxiety you could avoid, just by adhering to a work schedule that allows you to devote the most productive hours of the day to creative work -- and leave everything else for the less productive hours.”
    ~Chris Beneke, associate professor of history
  7. “Your job does not define you. Work hard and climb that ladder. But, at the end of the day, it’s a job. Your true goal should be having a fun and fulfilling life. You’re more -- much more -- than just your job.”
    ~Tiffany Smith, publisher, content marketing
  8. “Be prepared to not get offered every job you are fully qualified for. Sometimes life isn't fair, and it's okay. Be open to new opportunities and adventures, even if that means going way out of your comfort zone.”
    ~Melanie Lilly ’15
  9. “I wish I knew more about what it was like to work in the technology industry through opportunities -- internships or summer jobs -- to learn more about companies, corporate culture, and products and solutions before entering the work force full time.”
    ~ Mark Frydenberg, senior lecturer of computer information systems and director of the CIS Learning and Technology Sandbox
  10. “Find your voice, and use it often. Rarely have I regretted speaking up about something. The moments I regret are when I remained silent.”
    ~Kristin Sorensen, associate professor of global studies
  11. “I wish I’d evaluated jobs earlier on based on runway (is the business poised for large-scale growth and will that afford me more opportunity) vs. salary.”
    ~Val Fox, chief marketing officer
  12. “Don't limit yourself to potential job opportunities in just what you studied. Problem solving, being innovative and mapping your skills to how you bring value to an organization is as important (if not more) than the discipline you studied.”
    ~Peter Rodriques ’80
  13. “Don't be afraid to take a ‘little’ job, it could lead to something much bigger!”
    ~Donna Washburn P ’19
  14. “Feeling ready for a job/career change 2-5 years out of school is completely normal. Having those feelings is what prompts us to make a change in order to continue to grow professionally.”
    ~Leslie Doolittle, assistant dean of academic services
  15. “Enjoy the final moments living so close with so many of your friends.”
    ~Valerie Tormey ’04, MBA ’09
  16. “I wish I had paid more attention to the things in life that really made my heart sing, instead of things that other people told me should make me happy. Each of us has our own sources of joy and nobody else’s idea of happiness is going to fill us up.”
    ~Leigh Gaspar, executive director, advancement relations
  17. “How beneficial cross-functional skills are to navigating a successful long-term career. Workers who are capable writers and speakers, who possess strong strategic and organizational skills, and who are natural collaborators with a high emotional quotient (EQ) will excel in an array of fields and don’t have to limit themselves.”
    ~Trish Foster, program director, Center for Women and Business
  18. “Keep your student loan payments in mind when accepting a salary.”
    ~Elliot Knight ’13, MBA ’14
  19. “I thought my career was like a mountain: Aim to reach for the top, follow certain steps and pathways to get there. It took a few years for me to realize that a career is actually a mountain range: There are many mountains to climb and you’re free to choose multiple pathways to get there -- going up, going down, backtracking or even around a mountain -- as long as you keep learning and keep going.”
    ~Jacqueline Le ’11
  20. “College is an experience you'll never get in a mini town with your best friends. Now I've graduated and my friends are spread across the world. I'd give anything to live so close to them again.”
    ~Ashley Perssico ’15
  21. “Learn to harness your creativity early. It will help you be more open to taking creative and career risks that could pay rewarding dividends both personally and professionally.”
    ~Aaron Jackson, professor of economics and director of the honors program

    Find out how being creative can help your career.
  22. “Don't take the first offer you get out of college. Make sure you know what you are hoping to learn and achieve from your first real life work experience.”
    ~Jennifer Manghisi ’06
  23. “Invest in your future early! 401k, Mutual Fund, IRA.”
    ~Terrance Bacchus ’90
  24. “Your life’s calling will evolve over many years. You have time. Trust the non-linear surprises along the way.”
    ~Robin Olson, director, spiritual life
  25. “If you are an accounting major, go for graduate degree and then to CPA.”
    ~Ralph Atwood ’67, MST ’83
  26. “There’s not one path to happiness. Success is often portrayed as going to college, getting married, buying a house, having kids, advancing in your career. None of these are bad things if they're what you want, but do what's right for you -- not what society says is right.”
    ~Lisa (Promise) Colella ’09
  27. “Travel, travel, travel! Figure out how to pay for it later. Work will always be there!”
    ~Erica Burzynski ’02
  28. “The skills that I learned in college were important and served as an important foundation for career success, but the ability to adapt to new tools, ask the right questions and work with different managerial styles is more valuable over time.”
    ~Jeffrey Wright, director of marketing
  29. “I wish I was better informed in regard to finding a job once you leave Bentley. There are a lot of websites, staffing companies, recruiters, LinkedIn, but finding which is the best way for you and learning how best to utilize that method can be intimidating and daunting when you first begin your search.”
    ~Mike Haggerty ’11

    Bentley alumni: Did you know that you have access to lifetime career services?
  30. “Most people in the working world want you to succeed at what you are doing, so don’t be shy about taking advantage of their experience to learn all you can. And then, down the road, don’t be shy about providing guidance or mentoring the next group of newbies who are in your shoes.”
    ~Andy Aylesworth, associate professor and chair of marketing
  31. “When I graduated, I had every detail of what my career should be in my head. Had I embraced a broader perspective and allowed new ideas and opportunities to flourish, I may have advanced my early career faster.”
    ~David Schiegoleit ’93
  32. “There will come a time when you stop being a protégé and become a competitor. Be prepared for the headwind when that happens.”
    ~Mary Marcel, assistant professor of information design and corporate communication
  33. “The impact that we can have on our local, national and global community is tangible, and the responsibility to do so is important. I've learned that digging in to creating social change has, in turn, brought greater meaning to my life and work, led to incredible friendships and deepened community, and helped me to work toward a more just world, all of which feels like a lucky path to be on.”
    ~Jonathan White, associate professor of sociology and director of the Service-Learning Center
  34. “Your career path may take you in directions you never considered or knew existed, and may not go in the direction you thought. I joined a small CPA firm (never would have guessed that) and enjoyed a great career in taxes for close to 10 years, and I’m now a payroll accountant for an insurance company -- and could not be happier.”
    ~Michelle Bourbeau ‘96, MST ’04
  35. “I wish I had known that it would all be ok in the end -- that I didn’t have to know everything or have it all together before I graduated; that just because it wasn’t exactly how I envisioned, my future would still be successful and I would be happy.”
    ~Nina DeAgrela, assistant director, Multicultural Center




by Kristen Walsh October 19, 2018

Alison Davis-Blake, the former business school dean at the Universities of Michigan and Minnesota, was inaugurated as the eighth president of Bentley University in a ceremony attended by students, faculty, staff, alumni and other members of the extended Bentley community.

TOPICS: News, Leadership