Stay hungry and foolish, but trust us on the sunscreen…

Aside from Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford University commencement speech, the “Sunscreen” song is probably one of the great philosophical capsules of carpe diem sentiments for ambitious graduates embarking on the working voyage. Two years ago I wrote my top-ten recommendations for public relations graduates for a local blog, so as another graduation season approaches on the horizon, I updated it below in case any recent graduates or new professionals come across this blog. These are just my personal 10 cents from my experiences and perspectives 15 years removed from the undergraduate days. Take it, leave it or Tweet it, but go easy on the sunscreen.

  1. It’s pretty basic and seems obvious to many, but always carry a portfolio or pad of paper and pen , whether attending a luncheon panel, webinar or industry networking event
  2. Invest in a folder with plastic sleeves for business cards and keep a folder for any materials you receive at lunches, conferences, etc. Who knows, you may be able to be a referral or help a friend with such gathered information. Keep these in your work bag at all times with the aforementioned notepad from #1 above.
  3. Whenever possible, negotiate some form of a budget for association memberships and professional development luncheons. These activities can not only bring you out of your comfort zone and regular routines by breaking up the day and putting you into different circles; but participation or volunteering in a different capacity than your daily functions will prove very satisfying.
  4. Pursue industry certifications or go back to school by age 27, whether full-time , online or evening, whichever you can pull off with your needed work-life balance.
  5. Don’t stay in a position for more than three or four years. Be open to change and flexible to try a different industry or learn new disciplines.
  6. Even if you are having fun and doing great things and love your job after a couple years, if you start to feel pigeonholed or aren’t getting exposed to other disciplines or roles, prepare for  #4 or #5 above. Don’t let anyone box you in.
  7. Read more business and entrepreneur magazines than sports and entertainment publications.
  8. Sign up for as many free e-newsletters and daily alerts as you can tolerate from local and national media outlets in industries you are interested in as well as ones that are foreign to your acquired expertise and chosen experiences.
  9. Even if you are forced to pay your own way, attend a major conference in your market or field.
  10. Update your resume every few months with new projects or achievements and keep it along with your other career files and portfolio materials on a flash drive with you at all times. You never know when or where you’ll need it for a quick stop at Kinko’s.

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