I’ve been thinking about a FitzPatrick recently. No not one of the countless who are now my new closest friends and neighbors in the west of Ireland. I’ve been thinking about a Fitz who is 5,000 miles from Galway in sunny Los Angeles. My cousin Dan FitzPatrick is set to graduate from UCLA next month. I couldn’t be happier or prouder of him and can’t wait to see what he does next in his life. Aside from being extremely jealous of his role acting as the unofficial mayor of Westwood for the past four years, Dan was also an integral member of the men’s hoops team, rising through the ranks most recently this year as the head manager for the Sweet 16 Bruins. I’m hoping the connections he’s been making since landing in LA will lead to us having courtside seats next to Billy Crystal and Rihanna at the future Oprah-owned Clippers in the next few years.
Without being there to celebrate I thought I would do something a little different for a graduation present. As someone who wasn’t that long ago in your similar shoes (granted I haven’t been able to rock the sock-less boat shoe look that you seem to have perfected) I thought I would jot down some advice for your first few years outside of school. It was seven years ago this month that I was sitting around my shoebox sized apartment in Boston’s Beacon Hill, not having a clue as to what my next chapter in life would look like. Most of this advice I learned the good old-fashioned hard way. By no means do I claim to be a career expert, however as someone who somehow managed to flip a Political Science degree into running Europe for a high growth software company I wanted to offer anything I can to help the transition out of the college bubble into the real world. The old saying of “If I can do it, anyone…” ah screw it, here are a few pieces of unsolicited advice Fitz. Congrats brother, can’t wait to celebrate with you later this year:
-Start building your personal brand online now. This is the way you will get your first job. Any company worth their salt is going to google you during the interview process. Give them something useful to find. Create a LinkedIn with your college experience and begin connecting with people. Start a Twitter account that builds off your interests and where you want to land. Follow the thought leaders in your industry. Whatever the industry, there’s a conversation going online about it. Join it and add to it. And yes, it’s time to retire any unflattering pictures on Facebook from your days running the show at ZBT. These will be vetted as well.
-Read. A lot. Blogs, books, tweets. Learn something new everyday. Show a proactive personality to take initiative. I know you are a history buff. Reading biographies of the great coaches over the last 100 years will undoubtedly provide you with a leg up on your competition to get in the door at a pro sports organization.
-Don’t be opposed to a job that might not look the sexiest on paper. Little did I know six years ago that slinging software testing tools to geeks worldwide from the north shore of Massachusetts would eventually lead to me fulfilling lifelong dreams like surprising EK with a new car on her birthday, traveling the world to see Springsteen or getting shipped off to Ireland for work. The job and opportunity is all what you make of it. Whatever you get hired to do, make it a goal to get better daily at that job. Constantly seek progress and feedback from your superiors to understand how your next opportunity can be achieved. Always remember, move up or move out.
-Build yourself a circle of friends, peers, bosses and thought leaders. Consistently connect with them. Help them and learn from them. I have a network of people I look to daily for inspiration and know they would be there at a moment’s notice if needed. There is nothing more powerful.
And my final piece of advice, which I consider the most important of all: Go travel. Take risks. Live out of a backpack. Drink cheap beer and couch surf. You will not have those types of opportunities forever. Anyone I’ve ever talked to that didn’t travel in their early 20’s always looks back and regrets it. I learned more about life at a sketchy nightclub in Surfer’s Paradise or a dingy hostel in Santorini than I ever did in a classroom. There is a spare bedroom with your name on it waiting for you in Edwards Square, right in the heart of Galway, Ireland. First round of pints are on me brother.