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A Letter To A Recent Graduate
Peter Tatara - May 21, 2007

Congratulations. Elementary school, high school, and college are all complete, and for the first time in as long as you can remember, you won't have tests, homework, or grades. Actually, you still will. No matter where you work, there will be assignments, studying, and reviews. The difference is you now have a voice. With everything that's come before, you've only had a limited say in your path, but as you begin your career, your destination is solely up to you. What do you want to do? Find a place for that.

You will have noticed, no doubt, that this letter isn't filled with accolades, superlatives, and fond remembrances of bygone school days. More, these words have been composed in a letter rather than only a handful of them scribbled in a card.

Graduation is a special day, but it is only a day, and after the sun falls and rises again, another day will come and another after that. The end of college only means the beginning of the rest of your life. And you have choices to make. I know many people who've gone many different ways following their graduation. Some work in large companies. Some work in small start-up firms. Some are freelance. Some are in grad school. Others are sitting at home.

All these options -- and many more -- are open to you, and you can choose any of them. Any but one. You cannot sit home. You cannot settle into a routine. You cannot stay put. I've seen marvelous, intelligent people graduate and end up in their hometown Wal-Mart. This cannot be you.

Your first job out of college should be finding a job, and while you don't need to spend 9 to 5 looking, you should invest a healthy amount of hours. Just as you're applying, hundreds if not thousands of other applicants are, too, and it's only through dedication, research, and education that you'll rise to the top. Your resume and cover letters need to be honed, perfected, and polished more than any assignment you ever completed in school.

Don't hide your resume, either. When you apply for positions, cast a broad net, sending your resume to any and every opening you have the slightest interest in. Go to every interview you get. Even if the company isn't your first choice, go to every interview. The more experience you have, the better, and if you end up not liking a company, you can always say no to any offer.

Up until now, your world's been one of education and instruction. This won't change, but you will now be able to define your world. Its borders and shape are your decision, and what matters isn't what direction you go, but that you do indeed go. This is when everything begins.

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