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3 Things I Wish I Learned About The Real World Before Graduating College

I began working for Dale Carnegie 3 days after graduating from college. I planned to do the typical, self-discovery, 1 month abroad in Europe before joining the workforce, but decided against it. When this job opportunity came up, I didn’t want to immediately demand time-off and leave a bad impression…I just wanted to land the job!

So here I am…4 months out of college—loving what I do, but wishing I learned a few things before graduating. Here are the 3 things I wish I learned before leaving college:

1. Student Loans Are Real

You mean that’s actual money that I have to pay back and my parents or grandparents aren’t going to generously offer to settle all my debt after graduation?


So you mean the Federal Government is going to hold me accountable and demand I repay my loans?

Ugh, ya…so annoying.

I wish I was able to take a step back and conceptualize the reality of the loans I needed to repay. One thousand dollars here and there sounds like small change, but those puppies add up.

2. You will use math…just not the way you expected

We were having lunch in the office the other day and heard about a pizza challenge in Burbank, CA where 7 people get 2 hours to eat a 54-inch by 54-inch pizza. That’s a 4.5-foot by 4.5-foot pizza (we did the math)!

So how much pizza does each person have to eat?

Glad you asked, because we were wondering too. This is where it gets crazy—thank goodness we have someone in the office with a math degree and an iPhone calculator.

The results: each person must eat the equivalent of a 20-inch pizza in 2 hours. In which we concluded two things: (1) they were right, you will use math in the real world and (2) that sounds like a very do-able pizza challenge, where do we sign up? All jokes aside. Math is important, but Microsoft Excel is what really matters. (Hint: Pay attention in your Information Systems class.)

3. Loving what you do is more important than what you get paid

My senior year, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I was good at random things like color coordinating my notes, organizing my binder, or cramming for a test the last minute, but I didn’t know how that translated into a career that I loved.

I sat down and thought about what I was passionate about and made a list of the qualities I would want in my ideal job. Here’s my list: international business opportunities, room for continuous growth, intellectually stimulating, and emotionally fulfilling.

Dale Carnegie fit that profile and more. We found each other at a college career fair when I walked by their table and did a double take. I didn’t even know they were a company. I just knew How to Win Friends and Influence People was my favorite business book. I fell in love with the values of this company and how they help transform people’s personal and professional lives. It was the perfect fit!

The reality is, I don’t make a ridiculous amount of money and it’s much less than I expected to start off at having a bachelor’s degree. Somewhere in college we’re conditioned to believe we’ll be making X amount of money once we graduate and my mind was fixated in the ($30,000 to $50,000) range. Yes, there’s room for growth and higher earning potential, but my point is this: doing something you love is far more rewarding than being paid boo koo bucks for a job you hate.

So what does this mean for you?

  • Be cognizant of your student debt
  • Sign up for a pizza challenge
  • Choose a job you love!


Blog post written by Chandler Broadbent

Follow her on Twitter: @ChandlerDCTN

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April Fools

Leadership has its challenges.  We are all in a situation that we must get more done, faster with less.  When we are stressed, we're tempted to be demanding, straight-forward, direct and bossy to save time.  After all, we're paid to get the job done and that should be enough.

But it isn't enough. 

I think back to managers and mentors that I consider to be excellent leaders.  They weren't my friends or buddies or confidants but they cared deeply about people - and about me.  They were others-focused and not self-focused.  Walter was such a leader in my life.  We were a small group working on airbag electronics, interfacing between our customer and our colleagues in Germany.  Sometimes, we were between a rock and a hard place. We worked late, and loved every minute.   He knew my strengths and my weaknesses.  When a family dog died (really), he mourned just a little with me. 

So let's talk - when it comes to being the boss... what is the difference between being friendly and being friends?   Participate in this conversation by emailing vicki_davis@dalecarnegie.com and I will include your comments here.

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