Out of College for 10 Years and Still Learning

Posted on my LinkedIn but felt that my tips apply beyond LinkedIn.

Unbelievable. It has been almost 10 years since I graduated from King’s College with a degree in accounting. I cannot believe it. I have learned so much and met many amazing people along the way.

I still remember my first job interview. I kept passing this old house thinking to myself “no way is that where I am supposed to go.” I still remember my first day of work as an internal auditor. My cube was in a garage. I had no windows. The basement was the scariest thing I ever saw. Come spring I smelled manure as the farmers got their fields ready. And within a year the whole team moved into a new office with lots of windows and no scary basements!

I was completely unprepared to be an internal auditor, but I was determined to learn and make it work. I truly believe that you can teach anyone who is willing to learn. They make the best teammates!

Three people stood out to me from my first job that helped me define what it meant to be an internal auditor. My hiring manager, John, took me under his wing and showed me how to make pivot tables and maximize my use of Excel. My senior auditor, Betty, showed me how to set up work papers and test controls. My assistant manager, Joy, taught me that you do not change controls just because they failed. Collectively they taught me to share my knowledge with others and stand up for what is right.

If I were giving a commencement speech now, here are 10 tips I would want to share with new graduates.

Top 10 Things I Learned Along the Way:

  1. You are smart and you have a strong voice but sometimes silence is what is needed. Learn when to speak and when to have silence.
  2. In the words of Ronald Reagan, “Trust but verify.” Listen with a skeptical mind.
  3. Smile and greet everyone like they are your boss. You never know when someone will advance and could possibly become your boss.
  4. You are going to Google a heck of a lot of stuff no matter how many years you have been working or where you went to school. YouTube is also very helpful.
  5. If you are stuck and have a problem on a project, have a plan no matter what. Going to your boss or colleague without a plan is dumping. Nobody likes that.
  6. Learn to work smarter not harder. Look for efficiencies in what you do because one day you will thank your lucky stars that you were able to get everything done and get out of work on time.
  7. Leave work on time. Staying late makes you look inefficient and having poor time management skills. Of course, if you messed up on a project, then you better stay late to fix it.
  8. If you must ask someone about fraud, phrase it like this. “If you won the Power Ball and we hired a bad actor, how could they cheat the system?” Then check to see if they cheated the system.
  9. Keep your emails short and simple. Nobody wants to read War and Peace each time you email them. If you must email more than twice on the same topic, offer to schedule a quick meeting. Both sides are confused, and confusion causes frustration.
  10. Learn about personality frameworks. It will help you harness your strengths, mitigate your weaknesses, and speak to others’ strengths.

Here are my bonus suggestions.

  1. Drink a lot of water. Exercise regularly. Eat right. You need to take care of yourself if you are going to do your best every day.
  2. Do not be that person who reheats fish in the microwave. Just don’t be that person.
  • “Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.” – Pele

    Photo by StellrWeb on Unsplash


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