Three things every new grad (and old) grad should know.

-Tim McLaughlin, Founder / Chief Operating Officer

Some of the most rewarding days of my career are the days I’ve spent mentoring as part of the Pitt Career Center and the Pitt AIR (Alumni in Residence) program. At times, my mentoring opportunities are about imparting information and stories about my years of experience, others are about helping students who are just weeks away from graduation navigate some pretty tough life topics. I often find that not being their parent means the students and young professionals I speak with actually seem to listen and appreciate my advice. Which is pretty amazing.

Something I always share with students facing the reality of the world after college are the three fundamental core questions I feel every graduating student should ask themselves. These same questions are great for young professionals who might be new in their careers as well.

  1. Where do I want to live?
  2. What do I want to do?
  3. Who do I want to do it for?

Wow Tim, I’m intrigued. Tell me more. Okay, I will.

These three things may seem pretty basic, but let’s dig deeper and take a closer look at each of them. I’ll also share which of the three I feel is most important.

  1. Where do I want to live?

Okay, I’ll end the suspense quickly – this is the most important and critical question to take into consideration when planning for life after graduation. It can be as open ended as, “I want to live somewhere warm, rural, urban.” or it can be as specific as, “I want to live in Midtown Atlanta near the beltway.”

If you don’t like where you live, nothing else matters, so move where you want to live.

  1. What do I want to do?

Following the theme above, what you want to do can be as vague as, “I want to work in media, healthcare, the legal field…” or it can be very specific, “I want to be in supply chain management for Amazon’s cosmetic products.”

Yes, I know you’re new to the workforce and some of this is what you’ll need to figure out, but remember that every opportunity is an opportunity to see what you like and what you don’t, where you excel and where you struggle. It’s better to learn early on in your career that you don’t like a certain role or position so you can avoid those opportunities and not put yourself in a situation where it’s hard to succeed in the future.

  1. Who do I want to do it for?

This is another big one. Not everyone is made for corporate culture. Some thrive, others struggle. Some need the structure and rigidness of a large 70,000 employee company. I started my career working for large companies and the experience I gained was invaluable. Others need the small family type of business and a less rigid work environment. I highly recommend doing both when the opportunities arise. Maybe you’re the entrepreneurial type and want to work for yourself or start your own company. All are viable and valuable options with lots of learning opportunities.

If you can find happiness in all three of these, you are set for a long, successful career and a happy life. The answers you give may change over time and it can be good to stop and think about these questions at several points as you grow in your career.

“Am I living where I want to live?”

“Am I doing what I want to do?”

“Am I doing it for who I want to do it for?”

There you have it. Unsolicited life advice from someone who isn’t qualified to give advice, but I’ll close with this – I love where I live, love what I do, and love who I do it for.

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