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Best advice for college grads — be gracious, be grateful

By Thelma Domenici
For the Journal
          Dear Readers: At this time of the year I experience both happy and proud conversations and anxious and emotional exchanges. They all revolve around the same event: A son or daughter graduating from college. I have participated in several of these conversations and the question always asked is, "Do you have advice for college graduates?"
        As I seriously consider that question, I begin to realize how different the world has become since I grasped my college diploma and walked out into this wonderful world. I thought it was a wonderful world then, and I still think that it is today. While incredibly different and impacted seriously by a drastic increase in choices, this world is still very much in need of sincere, committed, courageous, honest and creative individuals. It needs individuals who desire to make a difference in their own lives and in the lives of those they meet on the journey.
        My best advice for such people boils down to these, my top 10 tips for college grads.
        10. Be grateful for your education and demonstrate that gratitude to those who were a vital part of achieving your educational goal. That may be your parents, professors, siblings and friends. Take time to fully recognize their impact and let them know how much you value their contribution to your successful education.
        9. If the spirit of entitlement has become part of who you are — meaning you find yourself often dissatisfied with how much the world owes you but doesn't deliver — work to replace that with the choice to make the effort to do your part to improve yourself and the environment in which you will be working.
        8. Make the pillars of your professional life respect for yourself and respect for each individual you will encounter that day, whether it's your boss, the colleague in the cube next to you, the drivers with whom you share the road or the cashier at your favorite coffee counter.
        7. Establish personal goals for yourself. They will balance your life and allow you to use your talents to be an exemplary professional. Given proper consideration they can also helps you to become a role model exemplifying what it means to be a thoughtful, kind and humble human being.
        6. Recognize that what you feel on the inside does show on the outside. Consciously develop a positive attitude toward the job you're seeking or the project you're working on that will effortlessly radiate into the environment and be evident for others to see.
        5. Assess how what you are doing provides meaning and happiness to yourself and to those around you and maximize that meaning and happiness. Whether you're filing papers or building a bridge, seek the positive meaning of the task and gather happiness from that knowledge. Then share it.
        4. Find the desire to run the extra mile and to appreciate every opportunity given to you. Then show it by your actions and your attitude.
        3. Be who you are all the time. If you are authentic and true to yourself, you can develop and practice the traits of the positive person you know will make you happy and successful. Be that person all the time.
        2. You have one chance to make a first impression. Make it a good one.
        1. Use your heartsense — that feeling of right and wrong inside you. At the core of heartsense and at the heart of good manners are courtesy, kindness and respect. When you find yourself in a dilemma, ask yourself, "What is the kindest thing I can do?" What you come up with from your heart likely is the right answer.
        Gracious grads and good manners never go out of style.
        Have a question about etiquette? Ask it at askthelma@thelmadomenici.com. Thelma Domenici is CEO of Thelma Domenici & Associates, offering corporate coaching and contemporary social skills development programs to all ages.

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