Poole student commencement speaker offers 5 tips for happy traveling in life after graduation

Submitted by Anna Rzewnicki on Saturday May 07, 2016.

Good afternoon, faculty, family friends and most importantly, Class of 2016! Congratulations! We made it! We are officially proud graduates of the Poole College of Management at NC State.

As I stand here today, looking at you all, as poised adults dressed in robes and mortarboards, I want to take a step back with you and remember the journey that we have just traveled and also to reflect upon what lies ahead for us all in the future.

Picture your first week of classes, and all the unknowns you face.

Personally, every time I think about how terrified I as when I first came here, I laugh to myself (and kind of cringe). Stepping into college felt like traveling to a foreign country. There were new languages to learn (like, what’s MIE 201 and PCJ?), new cultures to embrace (group projects, anyone?), transportation to conquer (how do I get to a class across campus in only 15 minutes?) and the fear of getting left behind.

Similar to when traveling abroad, we really could have used a travel guidebook to help us maneuver through this new and foreign experience called college. If we were writing that guidebook, today, the beginning sections should be basic information.

Poole College Basic Information:

  • Get to your advisor as soon as you can to plan your courses so you can graduate on time
  • Don’t wait until the late minute to submit something on Moodle; it will most likely freeze
  • Little tidbits of info in order to pass Accounting 200 with Mr. Mac, like, You do have to READ the textbook!
  • And, the most important financial tip every student learns: There’s no better way to spend $5 than at Cookout on a burger tray.

Once we conquered the basics, we could do more than survive on campus; we could engage in the community. The middle of the guidebook should be things to explore.

Things to Explore.

Some of the best college memories are from when we stepped outside of academics and explored other things that were meaningful to us. One highlight was running the Krispy Kreme Challenge. During our four years at college, the Krispy Kreme Challenge reached a landmark donation totaling $1 million for the Children’s Hospital. I am proud to say my doughnuts and I both made it across the finish line intact.

Many of us participated in study abroad programs. One of my highlights was going to Germany to study finance. It was definitely life-changing and gave me a truly global business perspective. Together we have enjoyed athletic events, volunteering, participating in performing arts and working with peers for entrepreneurial competitions.

Later in the book, we define success by having a plan for the future. This section of our Poole Travel Guide should be called:

The 'Do’s and Don’ts' for getting a Job”

I’m so grateful that Poole supplied us with outstanding career resources and job opportunities. In addition to resume critiques, we learned to navigate a career fair filed with prospective employers, and how to appear less nervous than we actually were. And remember: Always wear your nametag on your right side!

Our travel guide doesn’t end here, though. The reality is, getting a job isn’t the end of the book. The life lessons you’ve learned at Poole are lessons you can carry with you throughout your career. Now, as we graduate, the final section of our Poole Travel Guide should be the top five tips for happy traveling. 

The Top 5 Tips for Happy Traveling

Tip #1. In life, Optimists Win

Optimism is a powerful tool. It’s the belief that you can make anything happen. I was given this advice from a VP of marketing at Cisco during an internship. He taught me that when new ideas or procedures are given to you, you will be the most successful if you immediately begin to think, “We can make that happen!”

Tip #2. Follow your Passion

Our college years were a time to explore anything and everything. You’ve learned about your strengths and what activities you thrive in. Poole gave you confidence to pursue these ventures, knowing that doing what you love can lead to the best results, both in and outside of the workplace.

Tip #3. Networking is everything

Forming meaningful relationship with the people you meet is one of the most satisfying things you will accomplish n life. Maintaining these relationships will take constant work. I know you all will have many career changes in your lives and it’s these relationships that will help you through them. And in turn, you will be able to help others in your network, too.

Tip #4. Have empathy towards others

Treat everyone you work with, with kindness and respect. Really listen to their opinions. I think our class group projects were like a microcosm of the work place. You saw the importance of being open to others’ ideas and being there for people in their times of overload. A smile and asking a caring question can make all the difference.

Tip #5. The Final Tipi: Don’t forget your roots.

As you go through life, you will all carry your experiences from NC State with you. Our time here has taught us respect, accountability, to embrace diversity and the ability to not only think but also to do. I know you will remember to give back and engage with NC State as passionate alumni.

Now that we’ve completed our college travels, we have that same scared feeling from the first day of classes. Whether the next journey is graduate school or joining the business world, we are back to square one, each entering unchartered territories.

However, we’ll be equipped with the lessons we learned from NC State for the rest of our lives. These learings, combined with the support of loved ones and mentors, will lead to successful travels for all of us.

Wherever our lives take us, I know that we will all represent the Wolfpack with pride. Fellow students, I think we’re destined for greatness. Go Pack!  

About the speaker

Suzanne Emily Phillips, from Advance, N.C., graduated as a valedictorian with a major in business administration and concentrations in marketing and information technology. She is a Park Scholar, a member of the University Scholars Program and a Poole College of Management Ambassador. One the evening of her graduation ceremony, she flew to Argentina to participate in one of Poole College’s study abroad programs for undergraduate students. When she returns, she will begin an internship with Cisco and begin Master in Global Luxury Management, a dual masters degree program offered jointly by NC State Poole College and Skema Business School.  – link: poole.ncsu.edu/glm

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