As we celebrate the Class of 2016, our staff would like to share a few words of advice — some practical, some aspirational — to help them transition into the workforce and realize their dreams for the future. Congratulations graduates! We look forward to welcoming you back to campus and to the ICA in 2017.

Visualize Your Future
Where do you see yourself in ten years? What would your life look like then? Where would you like to live, how do you want to live? What type of work makes you feel most energized? What type of job would let you lead the life of your dreams? Do you want to get married? Have children? Travel the world? Imagine you are in that place ten years from now and then work your way back to the present. Think critically about the steps you need to take to realize your dreams. Don’t compromise on the things that are most important to you. Trust your gut. And remember, life goes by quickly and you only get one shot. What values do you want to live and share? What will you leave behind as your legacy?
— Lisa D. Freiman, Director

Express Your Gratitude
Write thank you notes! Real ones, on stationary that go in the mailbox with a stamp — anytime someone helps you or expresses interest in you and your career. And not just after interviews when you are trying to get a job. Expressing true appreciation for people’s time and energy is an amazing way to leave a good impression and be a good citizen of the world.
— Traci Garland, Interim Registrar and Assistant Director of Facilities

A Good Job is Like a Good Relationship
I cannot underscore enough the importance of finding a job that makes you happy. You should be in an environment where you feel trusted, valued, and respected. You should not expect to get along with everyone you meet over the course of your professional career, but you should also not tolerate working in a culture that’s not the right fit for you. No one has ever regretted leaving a bad job. Ever.
— Carol Anne Baker Lajoie, Director of Development

Stay Informed
Stay current! Keep up-to-date on current events and community happenings and festivals. It helps to understand what is going on in the world and at the very least it gives you conversation topics with co-workers.
— Susan Norkus, Donor Relations Associate

Strive for Balance
Taking care of myself at home is one of the best contributors to work and career success. Strong relationships with friends and family, exercise, good food, the pursuit of outside interests can all put work in perspective and give one more energy to do a great job, on the job.
— Marie Norton, External Affairs Coordinator

Never Underestimate the Importance of a Good Resume
Your resume represents you and needs to stand out from potentially hundreds of other applicants. Try adding a summary of your qualifications at the beginning. It lets employers know what you can do for them now, instead of trying to infer your skills from reading about what you’ve done in the past. Proofreading is critical. A resume with typos ends up at the bottom of the pile. Consistent, easy to read, professional formatting is also important — convert to a PDF whenever possible or just keep it simple.
— Johanna Plummer, Director of Education and Community Engagement

Take Pride in Your Work
As you strive to find your place in the professional world, take pride in your work, no matter how tedious or inconsequential it may seem. If you show respect for the tasks you’re assigned, colleagues will show respect for you and your work, ensuring your future prospects.
— Maura Scanlon, Director of Communications

Image: Designed by Michael Walker (B.F.A. ’16), May 2016. © ICA at VCU