It was 1982, at the home of the Norcross High School blue devils in Gwinnett County, Georgia — then a hotbed of growth for the metro Atlanta area. The population was increasing by leaps and bounds, and Gwinnett’s public school system had many new students from all over the U.S. because of the economic opportunities that lie ahead.
There I was, a first-year teacher-coach from Garden City, Georgia. I had recently graduated from the University of Georgia (UGA) School of Education with a degree in business education, and I was scheduled to teach the curriculum that dealt mostly with personal finance. I was also hired to coach football and wrestling at the school.
I had to look up what I would have been paid for the 1982-83 school year. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, my salary was likely about $20,000 per school year. Throw in two sports supplements for about $5,000 more, and I was living the dream.
Fast forward to today. My younger daughter, Annie, recently graduated from the physician assistant program at Mercer University in Atlanta. Many of my friends from RW Groves High School, UGA and Georgia State University also attended graduation ceremonies for their children at different higher-education institutions. For some, it was their grandchildren who graduated. You should have seen all the pictures on social media.
Much like I experienced with my first-year teaching position, these new and well-educated members of the workforce have many things to navigate as they start the next phase of their lives: a new boss at their first professional job; changes to relationships they may be in now; new relationships with friends they may meet on their first day of work, or a roommate; an upgrade to a professional wardrobe; a move to a new apartment; buying new furniture, a car or a house, and learning about financing options; and so much more.
I believe the following 10 statements should be given to all graduates in a handout, text message or email, explained and discussed in detail.
1. The boss is always right. Check your boots to see if it’s raining.
2. Never say never. You have not walked in other people’s shoes.
3. Devil is in the details. This is where the hidden profit is located.
4. Romance at work. Your hat is never at the same work bathroom.
5. Never assume anything. ASS/U/ME
6. Money isn’t everything. Ask them to swap their paycheck for yours.
7. I am only here for a few years. 41 years at same company.
8. Own your own business. Know what the federal minimum wage is.
9. Experience is valuable. Very few successful 18- to 22-year-olds.
10. Education is knowledge. Take knowledge over labor every time.
Compare your list of advice for new grads to mine. If you have one that is not in the list above, please share it with us on social media. You may be helping your future boss or co-worker.
And if you’re a new grad, remember that time passes quickly, life is short and people matter. Makes the most of every moment.