Bookbyte Blog

Posts tagged ‘graduation’

To Walk or Not to Walk on Graduation Day?

gradcapWhen it’s time to graduate, while you’re sitting there sweating through your academic robes in the summer sun, you’ll start to listen to the names of your class (or department, depending on how your school does it), anticipating friends’ names so you can cheer a little louder.

The odds are pretty good that you won’t hear at least one name you expect to. Some people just plain don’t want to walk.

While the majority of you probably wouldn’t even consider skipping, a number of your classmates have no interest whatsoever in attending graduation. A few of them might even take off as soon as finals are complete. Justifications will vary. Some will say they’re just sick of school and can’t wait to get out of here. Some will be taking off out of obligation to their vacation plans (that they easily could’ve scheduled later in the first place). But whatever the argument, the people who don’t want to walk simply don’t see much value in pomp and circumstance.

And that’s totally valid. If you’re one of the minority that would rather just take off as soon as you’ve completed your last final, then by all means, take off. If the ceremony isn’t for you, then it isn’t for you. No need to feel guilty about it.

That being said remember that only about 10% of the ceremony is actually intended for you and the rest of the graduating class. The rest is for your families. So before you make any rash decisions about skipping, run it by your parents, siblings, grandparents… whoever plans on coming. And defer to their judgment. Just as you only get one chance to walk, your family only gets one chance to see you walk.

Neil Gaiman’s Brilliant Career Advice

Neil Gaiman’s commencement speech to the graduates of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, embedded above, is, much like his books, charming, enjoyable, and full of lots of legitimately good insight. Listen to the whole thing if you’ve got the time, but if not, at least read the best part, transcribed below. (In the clip, the below quote begins at 14:06.)

You get work however you get work. But people keep working, in a freelance world — and more and more of today’s world is freelance — because their work is good, and because they’re easy to get along with, and because they deliver the work on time. And you don’t even need all three. Two out of three is fine. People will tolerate how unpleasant you are if your work is good and you deliver it on time. People will forgive the lateness of your work if it’s good and they like you. And you don’t have to be as good as everyone else if you’re on time and it’s always a pleasure to hear from you.

Welcome to the Frustrating World of Job Searching


It’s March, so those of you on the cusp of graduation are probably starting to get bombarded with advice on how to land your first “real” job.

’Starting to’?” a lot of you are saying incredulously. “I’m a liberal arts major. I’ve been getting nagged about that for four years!”

Fair enough. But your final spring is when that nagging gets kicked into overdrive. That’s when your school starts hosting workshops on interview skills and résumé writing. That’s when your parents start politely (or not so politely) gauging how long you’ll be living at home post-graduation. That’s when that question starts appearing in every conversation: “So… what are you doing after you graduate?”

Those conversations suck. Period. There’s no way to make them feel any better. Your only options are to either (a) stumble through a half-answer about various things you’d like to do, even if there are no real plans established, or (b) just throw up your hands and admit that you have no idea, and really, how could you?

You’re going to get a lot of moments like this one, from The Graduate. Whether it’s a family friend, an older sibling, or some overly exuberant host of an interview workshop, people are going to bombard you with ideas and advice: often practical, often absurd, and often unnecessary.

It will be frustrating, incredibly frustrating, because even though the advice comes with the best intentions, it also carries with it a nagging feeling that you’re doing something wrong. Every time you hear someone tell you to not wear those shoes, to leave that off your résumé, or to make sure you shake the interviewer’s hand harder, the whole enterprise of job searching starts to seem more and more disingenuous, and more and more completely disconnected from everything you spent time learning in school. It feels like the only way to impress a future employer is to constantly project a fake version of your self that is completely flawless.

I write this not to offer advice, but to offer empathy. Most soon-to-be graduates will be told to do this and to not do that a thousand times before they land that first job. Each nugget of advice will be presented as if it is the magic ticket to starting your career — just get a haircut, just buy a new tie, just change the font to “Georgia.” In truth, it’s impossible to know exactly what’s going on in an interviewer’s mind and exactly what factors help or hurt on a given interview. You’ll probably never know his or her reasoning. All you can do is to prepare yourself for the small portion of the interview that you have some control over. The rest is up to chance.

This is not to say that there isn’t a lot of good advice worth listening to. There are plenty of good solid rules about professional attire, a professional demeanor, and a professional email address that may seem overly obvious, but can easily slip by unawares, and can cost you a job.

But it is just as easy to overanalyze and obsess over the little details to your detriment. If you find yourself starting to worry that the way your parted your hair is going to cost you a job, it’s time to step back and remind yourself that everyone else in the building went through the exact same excruciating process to get where they are. And they all know, on some level, exactly how uncomfortable you inevitably will feel during the interview.

So when you start getting anxious, stop and take a deep breath. There will always be another chance to adjust the little details to perfection. But a good chunk will always be left up to chance. Accept the unpredictable, for better or worse.

’Accept the unpredictable’?” some of you say. “Well, that advice sucks.”

True. But so does the interview process.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 58 other followers

%d bloggers like this: