Dear Class of 2015
Thank you for supporting Ian’s Pizza over the past four (or five, or six…) years. We are glad to have been a part of your late night studying, late night partying, and late night snacking.
Over the next weeks and months there will be plenty of people giving you advice on what to do with the rest of your life. Much of this advice will come from conventional sources: parents, relatives, teachers, etc. Here is some advice from an unconventional source: the guy making your pizza.
The first 3-8 years after graduation will offer the most freedom in your life. Most of you won’t be married or have kids. Many of you will have some debt, but hopefully it’s manageable. Use this time to take risks and explore. Go cliff diving! (I mean this literally and figuratively!) The truth is that no one expects much from you in your early 20’s. If you screw up, you’ve got plenty of time to get back “on track”.
In our hyper-competitive world, the more interesting a person you are, the more you will distinguish yourself from those around you. How do you become an interesting person? By accumulating as many experiences as possible. I recently attended a small dinner party at a friend’s home. One gentleman wanted to talk about his new motorcycle, while another dinner guest shared a story of how he crashed a presidential press conference and was tackled by the Secret Service. No one cared about the motorcycle, but everyone was fascinated by the Presidential encounter. While we’re not advocating for causing trouble with the government, the point is: Don’t squander your energy and curiosity solely in the pursuit of material possessions. If you are truly lucky, the risks taken early in life will begin a journey which sustains your physical and emotional needs for a long time.
For those of you who have no idea what you want to do — go travel! It’s a big world. See as much of it as you can. Travel has had a profound impact on my thinking and appreciation for where I live. Like many Americans, I didn’t like sending the government a check on April 15th. And then I experienced a slum in Southeast Asia. Now I have a new appreciation for the taxes I pay and the clean air I breathe.
I realize not everyone is going to graduate and want to sail across the Pacific or save the gorillas in Rwanda. In fact, many of you may want or need to embark on a “serious” professional career right away. You’ve spent the past four years studying to get good grades, working the right internships, and diligently expanding your LinkedIn network. Even with all that under your belt, the cold, hard truth is that the world still owes you nothing. Want to get off to a great career start? Here’s my prescription
- Search for the right employer, not the right job. An employer who is willing to invest in your training, clearly track success, and provide opportunities for advancement will do wonders for your career.
- Eat some humble pie. Everyone has to start somewhere. Unless your last name is “Hilton” you’re probably going to start off scrubbing floors. That’s okay. Actually, that’s better than okay. The long hours I’ve spent doing nasty, mundane work has made me a better leader (and a better human being).
- Help others succeed. Want to be the most popular person in your new workplace? Be the person who makes your coworkers’ jobs easier. The goodwill developed from selfless acts of generosity will go a long way towards advancing your career. You’ll also be a happier person. Trust me on this.
The adjustment from college to adult life can be challenging. Almost all my friends went through a post-college period of struggle. This is normal. If you’re having a particularly rough day just know that Ian’s Pizza is here to welcome you with open arms, your favorite slice, and some words of encouragement.
Best of luck,