It seems the closer I get to graduation, the more every relative, friend, and childhood acquaintance I’ve ever had wants to impart some piece of glorious advice upon me. Unfortunately, some of these are the worst pieces of advice. Ever.
Here are their top five nuggets of wisdom—and why each is so terrible.
1. “You don’t have a job yet? Better get ready to work at McDonald’s forever.”
My uncle actually said this to me. I’m not lying. So, after having a mini tantrum, I looked at the stats.
This may not be the best news. However, even if I flip burgers for a few months after graduation, that does not mean I’ll be asking people if they want fries with that for the rest of my life. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course.)
2. “Always wear business slacks and a blazer to job interviews.”
Thanks, Mom. Yes, 30 years ago, formal business attire was the rule when it came to job interviews. Now, you should take into account a boatload of other stuff.
More and more businesses are going casual, and a lot of places look for “culture fit” when they’re hiring. As a result, over-dressing for an interview can be as detrimental as under-dressing. I learned this the hard way, as my chinos clearly did not impress one surfer-looking dude who interviewed me.
A better piece of advice from my mom would have been, “Don’t wear yoga pants to your interview.” (That goes for you too, gentlemen.)
3. “No one ever likes their first job—prepare to pay your dues.”
This, from a random friend’s father.
Depending on the context, this could be really good or really bad advice. For some poor entry-level drone whose single goal in life is to become a CEO, it’s great advice. But for poor little old me, who didn’t take a job because as an “assistant” they expected me to make copies all day? Then, it’s terrible advice.
I don’t expect to have more than an entry-level position with entry-level pay when I graduate, but I’m not settling for doing secretarial work all day. I did enough pencil sharpening at internships and have a proven track record with other skills to find something I’ll enjoy doing.
4. “Now’s the time to be truly independent.”
If that’s what you want, then great! Go for it! But don’t let anyone you know pressure you into it (e.g., random guy in line for pizza listening in on my conversation).
If it’s best for you to move back in with your parents to get your footing and make a real impact on your loans, then go for it!
5. “Everything will sort itself out with your loans. Don’t worry about it.”
Part of this is great advice, and part of this is terrible.
Worrying about loans too much is bad for you. Trust me, I know. I’ve spent many a night moping under a blanket over my loans, TV marathon and junk food at hand.
On the other hand, my loans didn’t just “sort themselves out.” It took actual effort to complete my exit exam, learn how much I owed, and pick the right payment plan. Put the work in, and you’ll get the peace of mind.
Here are some other useless tidbits that I didn’t think were worth elaborating on:
- “The best thing you can do is make a promise to yourself that you’ll never buy ramen again.”
- “Try not to get too excited about graduating.”
- “Don’t use spell check; get used to editing on your own.” (That worked really well for my résumé and cover letter. NOT.)
What’s the worst piece of graduation advice you’ve ever received? Tell us in the comments!