After three, four, or maybe five years, your kid finally has a college degree in hand - probably with some student loan debt to go with it. And while they might've learned things you never even encountered in the classroom, they still have a lot to learn about navigating the world.
The truth is, some of the most important lessons for college graduates and young professionals beginning their careers are the things that no one tells them. This is where you come in.
Sharing these lessons with your recent grad doesn't have to mean micromanaging or hand-holding. In fact here are four things new college graduates wish someone more experienced would tell them, gathered from my talks with millennials all over the country and excerpted from my book, 50 Ways To Excel In Your First Job (And In Life).
1. "Your first job won't be your last."
Parents regularly worry about their child making the wrong choice when it comes to their first job, and the stress often rubs off on recent grads. Well, here's some good news: There's no right or wrong decision. Why? Because their first job won't be their last.
The job market and economy have changed since you graduated. People now change jobs every two years on average, which means the right attitude is to stop worrying so much about the "right job" and instead focus on being curious and developing skills.
So ease the pressure and help your recent grad by asking them questions like: Are there development opportunities at this job? Is the job in a city they're excited to explore? Will they be challenged? Find a way to turn your fear (and theirs) into excitement and encouragement.
2. "Be the CEO of your career."
Regardless of your child's title at their job, remind them that they are the CEO of their career. This is essential for millennials in today's workplace, where finding a mentor who champions their career is increasingly rare, thanks in part to how transient jobs have become.
Having a CEO mindset means that regardless of their title, your child proactively seeks out opportunities to contribute. It means they set actionable goals for themselves and build relationships with allies across the company, not just in their department. It means staying on top of industry news and delivering more than expected, even if they're not sure if it's the industry they plan to stay in.
Being CEO of their career means actively trying to understand their personal brand and goals, even if they're still figuring it out. It means not just going to work, but building a future.
3. "Communicate with confidence."
This is a game-changer, especially for young professionals just starting out. If an employer trusts your kid or senses their passion, they're far more likely to hire them and invest in their development. And it's essential, as a new hire, to getting colleagues behind your ideas.
Many people, not just recent grads, struggle with being painfully awkward communicators. If this is your kid, encourage them to take steps to improve their skills. The best way to become a better communicator is to study great communicators (i.e. TED talks), take communication courses, and practice, practice, practice by putting yourself out there.
Also, remind them that not all communication has to be spoken. Encourage your child to send handwritten thank you notes - not an email that can easily get lost - when someone has done something to help advance their career. It's a memorable gesture that goes a long way since so few people push pause on life to acknowledge someone else's generosity.
4. "What makes you happy might make me uncomfortable - and that's okay."
Let's get this straight: you won't always understand or agree with your kid's decisions. And that's okay.
You've known your kid for their whole life. You view them through a certain lens. And let's be honest. When they make decisions you disagree with or take the road less traveled, it can knock you off balance.
More than likely, your kid knows that you want what's best for them. However, what's best for them isn't always going to be something you agree with. Have an honest talk with your kid. Ask respectful questions to learn why they're making the decisions they're making, even if you think they're crazy. Really listen to their reasons and concerns, and then, allow them to make the decision that's right for them.
At the end of the day, they're adults. And while you're always there to offer guidance, the decision is ultimately theirs to make and live.