Dear Classes of 2020,
Oh what a hand you’ve been dealt. No spring break or class trip to Washington D.C. No senior ditch day. No prom. No final spring sports season. And no walking down the aisle to collect the diploma you so richly deserve.
There is no doubt about it. This isn’t the graduation you had planned. You poured your blood, sweat and tears into your school career and deserve to be celebrated. So let me be the first say that I am celebrating you and all of your accomplishments.
But, just like in every area of life, being a growth owner vs a victim right now is so important. You can choose to make this a defining moment where you start your life-long saga as life’s victim; or you can choose the path towards learning and growth. And as hard as it may be, you don’t want to move forward from here with your mindset programmed to be life’s victim.
You have so much life in front of you and despite circumstances, we need to get you off on the right foot! There are lessons to be learned from this COVID-19 era and you get to be the first to learn them. You have a front row seat to the areas where we as a society have become complacent because life has been soooo good for so long, and the good news is you can learn from our mistakes and do better. So despite the disappointment, perk up your ears and know that coronavirus might be the biggest lesson of your education.
As you make plans for your future careers, there is so much to take into consideration. Here are three things you can learn from this pandemic:
Get that nest egg going. Your youth is the best time to take advantage of the law of compounding. To some degree, many of us have taken for granted good times in this country. We put our wants above our needs and those needs undoubtedly include a safety net. A lot of people erroneously believe if you have debt, you shouldn’t have savings. This is a risky belief when you most likely will be coming out of school with some degree of student debt. You still need to build savings, while you pay down debt. Find other places to make sacrifices, but never your savings. An Xbox is great until you can’t pay to keep your electricity on. Make contributing to savings a weekly success habit now and you’ll never be caught short! You can use apps like Acorn, Robinhood and WeBull to make this process super simple.
Follow your dreams, but choose your path wisely! The difference between employers that care about their employees well-being and those who don’t has never been more obvious. Employers that allow employees to work from home, provide appropriate sick time and are flexible to their employees needs while kids are home from school are shining right now, even if the pay is slightly less than their competitors. This should always be the gold standard, pandemic or not. Quality of life is an underappreciated benefit in the workplace.
Success is about adaptability. Some of the greatest lessons learned during this pandemic has been that those businesses that can adapt to customers’ current needs will survive any situation. Distilleries that would be sitting idle are now making hand sanitizer. They were able to use their equipment to adapt to the current market to stay afloat. Ford Motor Company is making face shields, clothing companies are making face masks and some dine in restaurants are offering carry out for the first time. Instead of closing their doors and giving up, these companies are staying relevant. I’m not saying that you should always be planning for the next disaster, but you should always be thinking outside that box to stay in tune with your market. What’s popular and needed today, might not be tomorrow. But if you make it a habit to always be ready to adapt, you’ll come out on top!
Whether or not you are part of a graduating class this year, I challenge you to think about these lessons and the success habits you can put into place going forward to be stronger and more resilient.
Class of 2020, you are a force to be reckoned with. Congratulations on making it to the next step! It’s going to be a wild ride and there will be no one better prepared.