Think About It: Swallowing a dose of the real world

By JP Krahel

The U.S. dollar is in the toilet, major corporations are going bankrupt on a seemingly weekly basis, and you’re anywhere from a few weeks to a few years away from getting a diploma and entering the world of taxes, home ownership and casual Fridays. Fantastic.

My goodness, how easy it is to get discouraged when faced with an uncertain future. I can count on one hand the number of seniors I know who have a plan for the next six months that’s set in stone. I often find myself worrying about the world 10 years from now when even 10 weeks from now is an entirely gray area.

Why did we spend so many years here? It certainly wasn’t to save money. It wasn’t to enjoy a period of rest and relaxation, either. Was it just to stave off the inevitable? Were we simply waiting on a rainy day for four years or more, praying that some miracle would save us from the inevitability of the real world?

Let me tell you right now that none of us can afford the luxury of believing that. Not one of us can ever convince ourselves that success will fall into our laps, but neither can we believe that we’re not deserving of everything we have earned, both here and in the next stage of our lives. We have got to believe in our own innate value. There is a vital difference between believing that your value is increased with a Rider diploma and not that the diploma defines who you are.

Every one of us, from American Studies to Geoscience majors, from Finance to Physics, has had to work very hard to just stay afloat at Rider. Certainly, some classes have been easier than others, but I hope that we all realize that the depth of our work ethic has been confirmed, if not increased, by our time here.

At the end of the day, though, work ethic is just one component of your chances for success after graduation. What it all comes down to is this: How can you provide value to others? Rider touts itself as a place that sees its students as people, not numbers. I’ve got a harsh lesson to impart: The world of business does see you as a number. You’re only as valuable as what you can provide. This is a lesson repeated to me quite often by actual businesspeople when I ask for advice.

What I mean to say is that we all need to take a critical look at ourselves and make an effort to discover what distinguishes us from our peers. A college diploma is a piece of paper. What else did you learn to do before you got it? Can you innovate? Can you handle six things at once? Are you personable? Can you present your ideas thoughtfully and concisely?

It’s a hard nut to swallow, no question. Still, it’s no different for you or me than for anyone else. Those in the graduating class will be entering a job market that’s been brought to its knees. It will be up to us to help bring it back to its feet. I hope that Rider has been as good to you as it has to me, and I wish everyone the best in the future.

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