Advice for new graduates

We asked our readers what advice they had for the Johns Hopkins Class of 2019. Here's what they said.

Illustration of people going in different directions

Image credit: Luisa Jung / The Ispot

Do not let failure stop your success. Failure is a roadblock, but it doesn't have to be a permanent one. Persevere, stand strong, and keep pushing your way to the top. There will be rejection; people will tell you no. Don't stop. Instead, adjust, adapt, and move forward. —Donielle A. Winford, A&S '10 (MAG)

When you finally get that gut feeling that what you're doing is your true purpose, hold on to it, pursue it with all your focus, and never let anyone talk you out of it. You will change the world in ways you cannot even dream. —Sean Donohue, A&S '15

Stay flexible: physically, emotionally, and mentally. Never be afraid to change. —Susan Land, A&S '89

Travel. Travel. Travel. See the world, however and whenever you can. Also, invest ASAP in your 401(k). —Smita Dolan, Engr '10

Things may not always turn out the way you expected them to turn out, but for the most part, whether you think about it a lot or you don't think about it too much, you'll find yourself where you were meant to be. I didn't get to medical school when I was "supposed to," but I got there eventually, and my life is better than I could have planned. Have a little faith in yourself. —Allene Burdette, A&S '91

Design your career with intention. Your first job is not your last, and you can always, always change your mind and try something else that brings you joy. —Moira Todd, A&S '03

The future is uncertain, yet ripe with possibility. Let passion and insight—not fear of the unknown—guide your path forward. Take chances and embrace the opportunities presented to stretch your known universe. I lived in a bush village in Africa after college, then returned to Hopkins as an MPH candidate, followed by medical school. Do not let fear inform your choices in life; use your brains and cunning to know the world you would otherwise learn of only in headlines. Create your own intimate narratives and learn to embrace the languages, cultures, and tastes that define our humanity. Engage in the world, and give of yourself until you can give no more. Your education is just beginning. —Jonathan David Krant, A&S '76, SPH '83 (MPH)

Fresh off my 40th reunion, I believe the graduate of 2019 needs perspective not easily gotten in Hopkins' immersive world. My experiences have taught me that Hopkins is the mythic Lake Woebegone, where all the children are above average. Because of this, the distinguishing life arc of the Hopkins grad depends more on unique, incremental effort and courage than on the seemingly ubiquitous exceptional skill or talent. I would counsel each graduating senior to deeply believe that no achievement is beyond their grasp, and would hope that this wisened perspective would embolden them to audaciously reach beyond the likely obtainable, past the possibly achievable, all the way to the rarely imagined. —Joseph M. Smith, Engr '79

Look for little moments of happiness. We love our big successes, but seek out those little laughs, too. —Lauren Altus, A&S '17

Be open to opportunities and use your new skills and education in unexpected ways. Just because a job title doesn't match your major doesn't mean it is not a good fit. Finding the right company is just as important as the right job. Also remember that side hustles are great ways to try out something. —Haylee Christine Brown, A&S '17 (MA)

The exclusive assets of a Hopkins education are your social conscientiousness and grit: the world needs more of these kinds of minds. Never hesitate to speak up, interrupt, or shout if it's to call out subtle social inequities and biases, or if it's for the service of others. —Inhye Baik, A&S '11

Congratulations on making it! Yes, you made it. No matter where you go, you will have Johns Hopkins in your resume, which will not only open doors for you but also give you the experience you need to go into any field you like. It is never too late to change your mind about your career choice. Follow that passion, even if you feel too "old" to do so. The road ahead will always have its curves and waves, but you will always be able to find your place, even if you change your mind after graduation. —Michelle Ploch, A&S '14

Take a picture of everything. Each moment, especially those among the last ones, is worth saving. —Nidhi Kedda, A&S '18

Challenge yourself: Ask how you will go about pursuing lifelong learning while leading people and organizations when you don't have the power, position or pedestal yet? Offer understanding before giving answers. Always be curious. Meet people where they are. Lead with compassion. Maintain a growth mindset. Have fun. —Bill Kirst, A&S '00

Getting that diploma in hand is a day to be remembered for life. While on the stage, take a breath, pat yourself on the shoulder, and say well done! It goes without saying you will do well in life but don't forget to relish the moment. —Aditya Patil, Engr '16 (MS)

And a piece of advice for the incoming JHU Class of 2023: Congratulations! You made it. You will be studying at one of the best schools in the world. You've worked incredibly hard to get here, but the hard part isn't quite over yet. Here at Hopkins, you will be challenged academically, socially, and even physically. College will have the lowest lows and the highest highs you've ever experienced. Make new friends and keep them close, but don't forget to call your loved ones back home every once in a while. Study hard, exercise, eat well, and do things you love. These next four years will be some of the best times you'll ever have. Cherish them. Live boldly. —Lilly Su, Engr '18

Next up: Name four people—dead or alive—you wish you could invite over for dinner.

Submit responses online. If we publish your response in the print edition, we'll send you a JHU pocket notebook.

Posted in Voices+Opinion