Sunday, May 29, 2011

Words Worth Hearing

Advice, like youth, is wasted on the young, someone once observed.

Case in point: Our offspring will find themselves awash in an ocean
of words this graduation season, all delivered earnestly and all
meant to inspire and challenge. Most will be forgotten soon after
they are spoken, lost in the euphoria of the moment.

Graduation day seems like a lousy time to make a point.

But the tradition continues. This column, for example, has been
cranking out pearls of graduation wisdom like so many mortarboards
for years, a mix of warm fatherly advice and frightening economic

That is by design. Advice is taken most seriously when the recipient
is scared to death.

This year, we are happy to announce, we have something besides
platitudes and panic to offer graduates: Optimism.

According to a new survey by the National Association of Colleges and
Employers, businesses are gearing up to hire nearly 20 percent more
college grads in 2011 than they did last year. The anticipated 19.3
percent hiring jump over last year would be the best since 2007.

In almost every category, employers are planning to offer more jobs,
with engineering services leading the way.

There are exceptions, however. Government hiring is projected to be
down by a whopping 25 per cent. For all you grads who dreamed of
being part of a bloated bureaucracy, I’m afraid the news is bad.

Overall, according to the survey, responding organizations reported
the number of job applications has risen nearly 45 per cent since
last year at this time. At the same time, however, the total number
of positions reported by respondents has tripled. As a result, the
average number of applications per opening has fallen from 40.5 in
2010 to just over 21 currently.

Which means that this year, the competition for jobs is merely fierce
as opposed to cut-throat.

It’s safe to say that for the time being things are looking up.
Unless you majored in art history or Canadian philosophy, there’s
probably a job waiting for you. It might be in New Hampshire rather
than Newport Beach, but that’s part of the adventure. Go for it.

And pay? Students who will graduate this spring are receiving job
offers with starting salaries averaging $50,034 per year, up 3.5%
from last year, according to that same NACE survey.

That’s nice work if you can get it. But even if you don’t make big
bucks at the outset, remember that degree you earned will help you
avoid a career in appliance delivery or shoe sales and thus stay out
of therapy in your middle age.

Now, for some really sage advice from commencement speakers you
should have been listening to before you walked accross that stage.

“Listen once in a while. It’s amazing what you can hear. On a hot
summer day in the country you can hear the corn growing, the crack of
a tin roof buckling under the power of the sun. Or sometimes when
you’re talking up a storm so brilliant, so charming that you can
hardly believe how wonderful you are, pause just a moment and listen
to yourself. It’s good for the soul to hear yourself as others hear
you, and next time maybe, just maybe, you will not talk so much, so
loudly, so brilliantly, so charmingly, so utterly shamefully
foolishly.” Russell Baker, columnist and author.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.
Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other
people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out
your own inner voice. And most importantly, have the courage to
follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you
truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” Steve Jobs,
Apple CEO.

“…some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live
without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you
might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by
default.” J.K. Rowling, “Harry Potter” author.

“I know we were supposed to bequeath to the next generation a world
better than the one we were handed. So, sorry. I don't know if you've
been following the news lately, but it just kinda got away from us.
Somewhere between the gold rush of easy internet profits and an
arrogant sense of endless empire, we heard kind of a pinging noise,
and uh, then the damn thing just died on us. So I apologize." TV
commentator Jon Stewart.

"As you partake of the world’s bill of fare/ that’s darned good
advice to follow/ Do a lot of spitting out the hot air/ And be
careful what you swallow.” Theodor Geisel (Dr. Suess)

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