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Dear graduates

By Elizabeth Angsioco | Mar. 01, 2014 at 12:01am

Dear graduates,

Congratulations! 

This, you will hear many times until a day or two after you officially wear your toga and go up that stage followed by the loving (maybe even teary-eyed) glances of your parents, family, and friends. Indeed, you should be congratulated for being able to hurdle years of college life. 

Undoubtedly, completing your college education is a milestone that should be celebrated. Go have dinners and parties with family and friends. You deserve it. 

But, please remember that you are among the lucky ones who, (whether it be from Parents’ Foundation—yes, your mom and dad, or via scholarships from government or private groups) have been provided with the economic and other means to pursue higher education. 

Not all young people are as lucky as you. Not even if our Constitution guarantees that education is a right and not a privilege. Many of your fellow youth are deprived of this right only because they belong to poor families. They can’t even afford food on their tables. Therefore, entering the university is out of the question. Think about them as you march to that stage. 

Some of you will graduate from State colleges and universities. Kayo ang mga iskolar ng bayan. Know that your college diploma comes with the sweat of ordinary workers who helped pay for your education. Now that you are to enter the world of professionals, do not forget them. Your future career is made possible by the ordinary folks whose own children may not even be able to set foot in your alma mater.

Those of you who were supported by your family, you know what to do—thank them, and mean it. Hey, the amounts involved in investing in your college education is no joke. Imagine hundreds of thousands of pesos spent for you.

I suspect that your parents did not even want to worry you with how they got the money for your tuition fees, projects, clothes and shoes, allowances, maybe even your pang-gimmick. That your parents sacrificed is an understatement. You owe them, you thank them, and best —pay them back somehow (maybe not in money terms though honestly, some won’t hurt).

I am certain that many of you have plans of going abroad for employment. In fact, some schools’ come on to students is the chance they provide for work opportunities outside. Wanting to get ahead in life is, of course, natural and commendable. What is sad is the belief of many that leaving the country is the only way to achieve this. 

How about staying home and working here? If not permanently, at least for some years. Many of our doctors, engineers, technical people, even teachers have taken jobs out of the country. True, the money they send back keeps our economy afloat and this is very important. However, the country also needs skilled people to stay and work here. Please consider this.

But I am getting ahead of the story. After all the congratulations and parties, dear graduates, you now have to face realities. No one will greet you with, “Welcome to the world of the unemployed!” Yet, this is exactly what you have become (for sometime at least) unless you are among the very few who are sought after by employers. 

Like in school, good grades come to those who prepare. Now, you want a career? You also need to prepare.

Beyond scouting for job openings and sending out your curriculum vitae, there are a few practical (some might say, minor) tips that might help you. I am assuming that your years in college did not teach you these:

Mind your picture in your CV. Selfies are out. Have professionally taken ID pictures of you in business attire. This is the first thing that your prospective employers will see. Let your picture represent your professional, respectable self. 

Be meticulous with your grammar. The simplest way of saying things is usually best. If you include a ‘career objective’ in your CV, mean it and be able to explain it. Cut-and-paste career objectives are garbage. I like asking applicants to explain what they have written and most often, I am met with blank stares or indecipherable murmurs.

Junk that kinky email address. If you want to be taken seriously, have a normal email address. This is what you use to communicate, right? Then use an email address that others will not perceive as “out of line”. Applications from people with trashy email addresses deserve the trash bin.

Clean your Face Book account or fix your privacy settings. Do these especially if you think you have posts or pictures that might be offensive to some. Many prospective employers check applicants’ FB accounts to get a glimpse of the kind of people they are.

Never use jejemon language or contracted words when communicating with prospective employers. This is extremely irritating. I know an a human resources officer who purposely sends SMS to communicate with applicants to gauge facility in language. Those who respond in jeje language are automatically removed from her list.

Get your Social Security, PhilHealth, Pag-Ibig, tax identification numbers. You will surely need these and having these when prospective employers ask you is impressive. The same with NBI and police clearances. 

Dear graduates, you are now embarking into the real dog-eats-dog world. I assure you that this is not all fun. You will encounter many things that college did not teach or prepare you for. However, the discipline that you have, hopefully acquired while in school will always come handy when you are faced with difficulties in your professional life.

As you navigate this world, please do not forget, at some point, you need to give back. As an older person I assure you that giving back guarantees you a different kind of high that no amount of money can buy. 

Step forward, graduates. But do not fail to look back.

bethangsioco@gmail.com  and  @bethangsioco on Twitter

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