Congratulations to those Matriculants who passed last year and are now embarking on this new journey of no school. I just have a few key points I want to share with you as you start this new chapter of your lives and I hope that they will be useful to you. To those still in school this year, this is something that you can look forward to in future.

Firstly I just want to say how happy I am for you that have completed your schooling year and how thrilled I am that you stood your ground even when times were hard. You worked hard and now you have graduated from high school. The things I am going to share with you this week are things that I wish someone had shared with me when I was completing my schooling years. But nevertheless your path in life is your own and who’s to say that that is not what was intend for me at that time. You ought to make the most of the path chosen and excel in which ever route you take in life as you only live once.

Graduate studies isn’t for everyone

I know some of you have probably applied to study further and some of you are wondering if that is what you want to do or should you just take a Gap Year. For many parents seeing your child finish high school only means that they need to continue to do graduate studies and get a degree so that they can get a better job. But is this really the only way forward after school? The answer is No, it is not.

Graduate school or University or College isn’t for everyone. You don’t have to feel like you’re missing out simply because you did not get in this year at your chosen University or College. Sometimes a gap year is exactly what you need so that you can make better informed decisions into what you would like to study for in future. Also, it’s not a myth: you are never too old to study. During my University years I was in a lecture with people old enough to be my parents. Graduate school is all about helping you discover new skills and improving the ones you already have. But it has to be something you are passionate about and want to know more of, otherwise it can became very boring and very depressing if you don’t enjoy what you are studying.

There’s no such thing as a ‘crappy’ job

Yes I said it, there is literally no such thing as a crappy job. This does not mean that the job won’t feel like crap. But you must look at any job you take during this time of your life as a learning experience. You will be amazed at what skills you can develop even if you’re just packing at Shoprite or Checkers. It might look like the worst job in the world but you can use it to learn so much more. This is a good way to improve your Curriculum Vitae (CV) and job skills. It will help you in future when you are applying for the job you really want because it will show your versatility and determination to succeed. So the next time you go job hunting, have an open mind and know what your end goal is. Remember to give it your best efforts even if the job isn’t want you were hoping to do at this point in your life.

Make new friends

I know your mind is still in high school-mode and you’re still hanging around with the same friends you had during school. But take the opportunity to make new friends who are going the direction you wish to go in life. I am not saying delete all your old high school friends from your Facebook page, but I am saying you need to improve on them. Remember you are all coming from high school and all have the same mind-set, so how will you grow into something different if you don’t know what is out there?

Try and be more social, get to know the big new world that you couldn’t see while in high school. Explore the city, enjoy your youth, but always try as much as possible to improve yourself. Think bigger and find new role models who will inspire you to do more in life. Surround yourself with people who know where they want to be in the next 5 to 10 years. People with a clear vision are very good people to have around because they will not be held back by small mindedness and they will inspire you to succeed.

Ask questions

Ask and ask until they turn you away. You must always have a curious mind and be willing to ask as many questions as you can. You will never learn something you don’t know if you don’t ask. Don’t be shy to ask a question if you don’t understand something. If you don’t have someone with the right answer you are looking for then go on the internet and search for the answers.

Do not complain because you don’t know how things work. No one will hand the answers to you on a paper like your teachers used to, so you have to ask for yourself. It might feel embarrassing, you might even be kicked out, but don’t let that stop you. If you want to know more about the various careers that are available, you need to learn to ask and search the internet. Even ask librarians because they always know of a book that has the answers you seek.

Lastly, do not limit yourself with your thinking. Go out there and show the world what you are made of, make them notice you and the skills you have to offer. The world is bigger than you ever imagined and it is waiting for someone like you, so go and be great.

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For more articles and advice on job-readiness, read our Work-wise articles.