A Balcony View: A pool full of advice

Glendale News Press

I'd like to offer a few words of advice to the graduates around town, assuming there are graduates who get their news from someplace other than Twitter.

First, lie in a pool and do nothing — unless you have a suggestion on how to stop the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. In that case, get down there right away, save the world, and then hit the jacuzzi.

This could be the last time you legitimately have the opportunity to sponge off your parents, if they haven't already cut you off. You'll be gainfully employed soon enough. But the ability to be a nihilist for a couple of hours? Those days are numbered, my friends.

Second, do something completely contrary to whatever you were learning in school. If you were planning on a career as a law enforcement officer, take some comedy improv classes. This is called "stepping out of your comfort zone," and it's usually where good things — the unexpected things — happen in life.

Keep your horizons broad. Who knows? One day on patrol, you may need to disarm someone with your wit instead of brute force.

When I was an arrogant greenhorn, I thought I'd get out of school, have a career in advertising, retire and spend my remaining days lying in a pool with a cool beverage in hand. Much to my surprise, I've had a lot of jobs — furniture designer, Internet entrepreneur, corporate button monkey, to name a few. Each job has been different from the other, but the one thing they have in common is that I was willing to try something that was out of my normal range.

For the record, I never had aspirations of being a columnist. Yet here I am, loving it. And as you'll see in your own life, one thing leads to another, and opportunities present themselves that you would have never expected. That's the fun of life.

Here are a couple of do's and don'ts for when you land a job. Don't place a lot of emphasis on jobs that reward employees with Jell-O shots and doughnut Fridays. More often than not, they're hoping that by making the place "fun," they don't need to offer you a salary or bonus worthy of the hard work you're putting in. Trust me on this. I've been there.

You are much better off buying your own beer. If you don't believe me, ask yourself this: "Would I rather have a company-sponsored beer-pong competition or an annual 20% bonus?"

Do place a lot of value on a job where your value is measured by what you contribute rather than what you wear. Dress codes are silly, in my opinion. You'll be much happier at a place that values your performance more than your Prada suit.

Don't hope for success, plan for it. I've been hoping to go to Italy for a number of years now. I'm willing to bet as soon as I start planning, the trip will happen. Success is no different.

If you were lucky enough to get an iPad for graduation, use it for something other than social networking. Yes, your Facebook friends are going to "like" that you put gummy worms on top of your frozen yogurt, but you will blow their minds if you can understand what Sarah Palin is talking about. Then again, you may never figure that out.

Finally, have faith in yourself. Graduating was a real accomplishment, so there is absolutely no reason to believe you can't do it again, right? Look around you. There are opportunities everywhere. There are oil leaks to plug, ozone layers to replenish and politicians from Alaska to laugh at. The only thing you can't do is entertain the notion that you have limits. There are none.

So get in that pool. Enjoy your days in the sun, diversify your interests, pick your jobs wisely, and trust your instincts. Or forget all of that and stay in school for a while longer. It'll all be OK no matter what you do. The world is yours for the taking.

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