Dear New Grads—Words of Wisdom from the Columbia Career Coaches Network

Welcome to the Columbia alumni community, Class of 2016!

Officially turning the tassel from "students" to "alumni" is one of the most exciting moments for new grads. But it can also be a time of uncertainty, especially for those still considering the next career move in their post-schooling lives.

You're not alone. And so we asked your fellow alumni from the Columbia Career Coaches Network to share their best post-graduation career advice to new alumni.


Q: Columbia career coaches, what is your best post-graduation career advice to new alumni?


Lynn Berger '84TC, '90TC


"Believe in your abilities and do not feel defeated if the job search is more difficult than you imagined. The time frame to secure your new job may take longer than you expected, but if you secure a good position it is worth the wait!"

Eric Horwitz '90CC


"My best advice to young alumni is that it takes 12 years to build a career in any one given field and become an expert. So if you want to make a lot of money or be well-known and respected for doing something, start at the bottom, be patient and humble, and 12 years from now you will be a pro. Then go do something else you love."

Cynthia Indriso '86PH


"Hard is Easy, Soft is Hard, A Harvard University study shows that 15% of the reason a person gets a job, keeps a job, or advances in a job, is due to their technical skills and knowledge. The other 85% has to do with people skills—these are the skills that will make or break your journey up the professional ladder. I call it 'people-centered leadership.' "

Judy Liu '96BC, '98PH


"As a new professional in the workforce, it is important to set positive first impressions at your job. Remember to cover the basics. Arrive to work early. Dress appropriately. Behave as if you are still in your interview mode. Ask questions to clarify what is expected of you. Be prepared and always take notes during meetings. Follow through on your commitments. Most importantly, get to know your colleagues and build your network. Find out how you can help and support each other. Remember to set boundaries as well. You alone are responsible for your time and how you spend it."

Robert E. McKiernan '73BUS


"Wherever and whenever possible, network by holding informational networking meetings."



Keith Lawrence Miller '12TC


"Market and promote yourself because you are the product that companies are looking to purchase. They want the premium performer that is going to learn quickly, adapt to challenging situations, identify problems, generate solutions, and collaborate cross-functionally with staff, clients, and management with efficiency and proficiency."

Buddy Moran '86BUS


"Just get going and start somewhere—the first job does not need to be the perfect one—your initial work experience allows you to better understand your strengths and passions, identify likes and dislikes and start to take control of your career through experience and knowledge acquisition—wherever you wind up make sure you 1) take a deep breath and manage your expectations (they are not expecting you to be CEO tomorrow!) 2) learn, grow, and build relationships in your new role, and 3) continue to understand yourself better and determine where your "intersection" of happiness and professional development is."

Ellen Torke '73BC, '79BUS


"The advice I give to recent grads is to realize that the first few years of your career don't necessarily make or break you. As a recruiter, if someone makes some early decisions that didn't set them on the career trajectory, can be explained to a Human Resource professional or hiring manager by acknowledging that you have learned from the experience and now you know where you are going."

Julia Harris Wexler '83TC, '14BUS


"The best advice I could give would be to take the time to know yourself: your skills, assets, strengths, and (most importantly) your challenges. Don't be afraid to be honest about the work you truly want to do (versus the work you have no interest in doing) so that you won't waste time. Get objective feedback through professional assessments or career coaches. Spend the time to get the right plan in place."

Melody J. Wilding '11SW


"In moments when you're doubting yourself, remember that the world's most accomplished, successful people contend with the same fraudulent feelings, known as Impostor Syndrome. Recognize these limiting beliefs for what they are: fleeting thoughts that are your mind's attempt at self-protection. You can choose to listen. Or you can choose the path of leaning boldly into your fears. Rise to the challenge and muster your courage. By doing so is how you grow and evolve."


The Columbia Career Coaches Network is a group of over 20 accredited professional alumni career coaches who provide fee-based consulting and volunteer for the Columbia Alumni Association's free professional development programs throughout the year.

You Might Also Like:

By Caroline Ceniza-Levine '93BC of the Columbia Career Coaches NetworkThis article originally appeared on Forbes and In the excitement of getting an offer, many smart, talented professionals ignore warning signs that a bad career move...

Alumna Lynn Berger '84TC, '90TC, of the Columbia Career Coaches Network, offers her top tips on stress relief for the office and home. 

By Caroline Ceniza-Levine '93BC of the Columbia Career Coaches NetworkThis article originally appeared on Forbes and I was leading a career-planning workshop for senior executives, which of course includes talk of the ideal professional network....