16 Pieces of Excellent Career Advice from Commencement Speeches

Steve-JobsCommencement speeches are a rite of passage for graduating seniors anxiously awaiting the next step in their lives. Often, the wisdom imparted in these speeches isn’t applicable to students, but targeted right at the graduates, as soon-to-be young professionals.

Sometimes the advice is so good, we should all pay attention.

Thanks to a terrific list of commencement speeches from Graduation Wisdom, I gathered the best commencement quotes for a fulfilling and productive career. Enjoy!

Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter

“As you get ready to walk out under the bright lights of the improvisational stage of the rest of your life… be bold. Don’t always worry about what your next line is going to be.” (University of Michigan)

Patrick Doyle, CEO of Domino’s Pizza

“Find a job that interests you, and when you find that job, work smart. Attitude truly is everything.” (Central Michigan)

David Brooks, NY Times Columnist

“Don’t think about what you want from life. Think about what life wants from you. If you’re observant, some large problem will plop itself in front of you. It will define your mission and your calling. Your passion won’t come from inside. It will come from outside.” (Sewanee, University of the South)

Neil deGrasse Tyson, Astrophysicist

“Your diploma is not a ticket to show off what you know. It’s permission to admit to yourself how much you still have yet to learn.” (Rice University)

John Green, Author

“Old people like myself are terrified by their ignorance of [the Internet], which you can and should use to your advantage by saying things at your job like, “You don’t have a tumblr? Oh you should really have a tumblr. I can set you up with that.” (Butler University)

Carson Kressley, Fashion Celebrity

“If you live your life only following the path you think is approved or acceptable, or the one you think is expected of you, you’ll be making a huge mistake. Not a single successful person… has ever done great things because they played it safe. You’ve got to be true to yourself.” (Philadelphia University)

Darius Rucker, Hootie & the Blowfish

“..find something that makes you want to give ’til it hurts.” (University of South Carolina)

Nate Silver, NY Times Statistician

“…read widely, consult for advice broadly, and take a multidisciplinary approach rather than specializing too much.” (Ripon College)

Anders Holm, ‘Workaholics’

“Practice being curious, want to know things, ask questions.” (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Cory Booker, Mayor of Newark

“Get out of bed. Keep going. I will not quit. I will not give up no matter how dark the days, no matter how big my failure. I won’t lose lessons that I could gather while on my knees. I won’t lose the lessons I can find in my lowest pits of despair, because when I emerge, it’s those lessons that will define my being.” (Yale University)

Mark Shields, Political Analyst

“Call your mother…not text, not e-mail—call her. She wants to hear how you sound.” [If you become parents,] “spend more time than you judge to be reasonable with your children. Please know that no one in recorded history, on his or her death bed has ever said, ‘Gee, I wish I had spent more time at the office.’” (Saint Michaels College)

Howard Gordon, Co-Creator of ‘Homeland’

“Listening takes practice, and it takes patience. But I promise, if you listen, your story will be better for it.” (Connecticut College)

Rick Hodes, Physician and Author

“Remember this: Run to do good. Create a momentum in the right direction. Get your hands dirty. Wear out your shoes. Don’t try to get too comfortable, please!” (Brandeis University)

Carlos Eire, Author and Professor

“If it weren’t for my failures and my painful experiences, I would not be here today speaking to you…It’s a way of saying the risks I took brought me here. Failure has brought me to his podium, more failures than I can count…These failures are my trophies.” (Midland University)

Steve Case, Co-Founder of AOL

“Be curious. Be open. Be flexible. Let your life unfold as a series of chapters. Don’t be so fixated on a specific ending that you neglect to open the door when opportunity knocks.” (University of North Carolina)

Arianna Huffington, Journalist and Author

“And remember that while there will be plenty of signposts along your path directing you to make money and climb up the ladder, there will be almost no signposts reminding you to stay connected to the essence of who you are, to take care of yourself along the way, to reach out to others, to pause to wonder, and to connect to that place from which everything is possible.” (Smith College)





For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at News to Live By!


Danny Rubin headshotAbout the Author: Danny Rubin is the creator and writer of News To Live By, a blog for Millennials that highlights the career advice and leadership lessons “hidden” in the day’s top stories. In one short-and-sweet column, Danny recaps a top news story and explains how it can make us better at our jobs. He’s a regular contributor to The Huffington Post and Business Insider, and his work has also been featured in The New York Times. Follow News To Live By on Twitter.


Image courtesy of eriksonian.com. Thank you!



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