Advice to New Graduates

Dear Graduates: Use Your Voice

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to talk about brand purpose and social enterprise with a group of PR and marketing students. My hope was to inspire them with trends and stories of purposeful businesses and to demonstrate the accessibility of social enterprise. Interestingly, the reverse happened. I became inspired by what these soon-to-be graduates will do next.

As I was talking, I realized that in this room sat not only the next generation of brand purpose managers but also business leaders. Given the continued rise of the gig economy, it’s likely that more than a few of these students will start their own businesses. Some as a way to make money and some as a means to fill a void in the marketplace.  Whether they become business owners or follow a more traditional path, each of these graduates would have a choice to become a voice for purposeful business.

Having had time to reflect on those conversations and in the spirit of May graduations, I wanted to share some unsolicited advice for the seniors in the room that night and all soon-to-be graduates:

Own your voice. When you’re first starting out, that voice might be small. Use it to ask good questions and to better understand the positions and ideas of others. Use it to suggest greater inclusivity or to broaden the perspective. As your experience grows, so will your voice. At some point, you will be the source of ideas, policies or decisions and your voice will be louder. It is then that I hope you will choose to be the voice talking about a purpose greater than profit alone. That you can use the strength of your voice to aggressively pursue success while also changing the world around you.

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