3 In LIFE/ Random/ Vent Sesh

Graduation Advice (i.e. My Biggest Life Lesson)

Advice to graduates

In sponsorship & partnership with AT&T #GradAdvice and Aspire Initiative. 


I earned my undergraduate degree 14 years ago, back in 2002. In some ways it feels like a lifetime and in other ways it feels like a blip. My friends and I talk about it all the time. I can’t believe that we’re all in real jobs, with professional careers that have afforded us some incredible moments, memories, heartaches, and accolades.

When thinking back to the biggest advice I received, I have to be candid that I don’t really recall. It’s a blur, starting my first job at a community center doing programming and marketing just a few weeks after I graduated with my degree in public relations from the University of Florida.

Looking back though, I immediately know the #GradAdvice I’d pass along to a graduate, or anyone for that matter: It’s never too late to be honest with yourself, and it’s never too late to change your course.

One year into my first job, I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t miserable either but I realized what I thought I wanted to do with my life wasn’t correct at all.

Don’t be afraid to make bold decisions, to be honest when you’re wrong and to change the vision you have for yourself. Sometimes the wrong move leads you exactly where you need to be.

Of course the best part is that when you’re younger, the stakes aren’t quite so high. I didn’t have a family, and I was probably making $25,000 a year. I have friends who decided to move to NYC, or conversely the smallest towns you’ve never heard of to start a career in television.

For me, I realized I didn’t want to work for a nonprofit, that I couldn’t do what I dreamed about from the staff side of things. I wanted to work at a PR agency that helped a variety of nonprofits, and I wanted to spend my free time helping organizations I’m passionate about as well.

So, I quit. I took an unpaid internship at a PR agency in Tampa, and started evening graduate classes at University of South Florida. I eventually earned my master’s degree in communications, and fast forward about a decade, I own a PR company that helps nonprofits and I give back as much as possible with our time and resources.

I could have easily stayed where I was at my first job, possibly working my way up “the ladder”, but it wasn’t my dream. At the time, it didn’t seem like a bold move but looking back I’m really proud I changed my course. I did so again when in 2010, I started both my PR firm as well as my blog, a dream I had to connect with women and provide useful, meaningful & fun content.

Today, I’m proud to celebrate graduation season with AT&T and its Aspire initiative – an initiative that leverages technology, relationships, and social innovation to help students make their biggest dreams their reality.  They’ve invested more than $250 million to date on education, and well, they’ve been my cell phone provider for more than a decade, so I’m pretty proud to share their cause.

Learn more about www.att.com/aspire and I’d LOVE if you shared your advice to graduates below, and on social with #GradAdvice (tag me too: @avggirlsguide).

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  • Reply
    June 17, 2016 at 10:06 AM

    Love this post & your honesty about fighting for what you really wanted. Great advice!


  • Reply
    June 17, 2016 at 7:20 AM

    I just returned from 2 days of Preview at UF for my son who will begin his freshman year this fall. So, this advice is the cherry on the top of all I’ve heard over the last couple of days. I’ll be sure to pass it on to him. Wish I had the courage to make bold decisions when I was younger so I am definitely encouraging my children to go for it! At almost 50 years of age I am taking baby steps to do the same! Thanks for a great post!

    • Reply
      June 22, 2016 at 11:59 AM

      First, woohoo, go gators! I loved my preview experience so much and he’s in for an incredible ride. So amazing to hear you’re taking the steps to go in the direction of your dreams and joy. Wishing you the best Kellyann!

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