Wise advice for students from Commencement speakers

August 4, 2011 at 7:00 am | Posted in Intern Advice | Leave a comment
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Susan Sandberg

Your students are focused on internships, career tracks, finances, and classes, not to mention finishing up summer vacations. However, it might be a good time to help them see beyond the moment. In the last few months, distinguished men and women have been delivering insightful Commencement speeches at your own school and others nationwide. Your students might benefit from the following wise advice:

  • Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer, Facebook, Barnard College:  “Do not lean back; lean in. Put your foot on that gas pedal and keep it there until the day you have to make a decision, and then make a decision. That’s the only way, when that day comes, you’ll even have a decision to make.”
  • Daniel F. Akerson, Chief executive, General Motors:  “Acknowledge your mistakes, learn from them and move on. Don’t be afraid of new ideas; be afraid of old ones. Be faithful to your family and friends. You’ll get the same in return. Tell the truth and always play by the rules.”
  • Toni Morrison, Nobel Prize winning novelist, Rutgers University:  “I know that happiness has been the real, if covert, goal of your labors here. I know that it informs your choice of companions, the profession you will enter. But I urge you, please don’t settle for happiness. It’s not good enough. Personal success devoid of meaningfulness, free of a steady commitment to social justice, that’s more than a barren life; it is a trivial one. It’s looking good instead of doing good.”
  • Steve Blank, Technology entrepreneur, Philadelphia University:  “I learned that in Silicon Valley honest failure is a badge of experience. All of you will fail at some time in your career, or in love or in life. No one ever sets out to fail. But being afraid to fail means you’ll be afraid to try.”
  • Steve Ballmer, Chief executive, Microsoft, University of Southern California:  “People think passion is something that has to manifest itself in some kind of explosive and emotional format. It’s not. It’s the thing that you find in your life that you can care about, that you can cling to, that you can invest yourself in, heart, body and soul. Finding passion is kind of your job now.”
  • Kenneth T. Jackson, Historian, Wagner College:  “Along the road, be gracious, gentle, and polite.”

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