Valentine: What to unlearn before you go

Robert Valentine Senior lecturer in advertising

There is time enough to learn more before you graduate in May, especially if it’s not May of 2014. There’s also time to unlearn some things.

That’s right: as much as we come to college to learn things, as we hit the interview trail seeking the job of a lifetime, there are a couple of things we might want to unlearn. Like a half-filled beer bottle after a weekend party, not everything we pick up at college is nec-essarily good for us. Here’s the list.

1. Unlearn the diet. Actual human food is quite nourishing and rarely comes in a “biggie size,” an aluminum can or a plastic cup capable of holding 32 ounces of anything.

About the time you graduate, your body undergoes a natural change at which time it will stop metabolizing 3,000 daily calories of starchy carbohydrates and begin to store them as a survivalist stores canned meat and ammo.

Embrace the apple and welcome yourself to the adult world.

I don’t have this problem, much, although a few years out of college I started buying pants with a 36-inch waist.

Now I find that pants with a 38-inch waist feel so good, I just buy 40-inch pants. Rather, my wife just buys them for me since she has pretty good taste in clothes.

If you don’t have a wife, you’d better change the diet now. Besides, you’ll live longer.

2. Unlearn the snazzy ball cap. You might imagine that you look like a gangstah with that hat on, but not everyone in the business world will agree with you.

Even worse: some people will absolutely agree with you.

People who actually wear baseball caps on the job do not favor the clean hat with the straight brim worn at a 30 degree rotation to the left.

People who work indoors will not appreciate the snazzy hat at a meeting with clients or customers. Hint: Do an online search for a photo of the Board of Directors of General Electric. See any hats?

At least take it off for your wedding. The bride’s parents will appreciate it to no end.

3. Unlearn Facebook frankness. Many modern college students are warm, collaborative, friendly and trusting people. There are other kinds of people in the world, too. To that end, you might want to start cleaning up the ol’ Facebook page to diminish the occurrence of photos with you and your best friend, Jack Daniels.

Shots of that oh-so-funny “costume malfunction” from the spring formal have probably brought all the smiles they are going to create, so you might want to lose them, too.

What you don’t want is some Human Resources director or hiring manager to visit that page and discover that you seem to be the kind of person who would embarrass their company with your wild and crazy behavior.

I know you wouldn’t do anything like that after you graduate, and you know that, too. Now: where’s the evidence that you and I are correct? Hm? Clean it up.

4. Unlearn the shyness and find your last name. Sociologists tell us that Millennial generation folks don’t shake hands.

They just nod or wave and say, “Hi, Jake.” Or, perhaps they give a smile and say, “I’m Sara — with no ‘H.’”

After Dr. Miller hands you the diploma (it’s actually a rolled up piece of paper with your parking tickets totaled and rounded to the nearest $100) at graduation, you’re going to have to start identifying yourself. Clients and customers, especially those who are older than you, want to know your name.

This includes your family name, because that’s what identifies you in the business world.

Stick out your hand, say your name clearly and start making new friends.

You’ve got nothing to be shy about: you are a Murray State Racer.

There are always going to be things to learn and habits to break. Nobody waves a wand over you on graduation day, however.

Things only change when you make them change. As Aristotle (he’s retired now) told his classes, “Excellence is not an act; it is a habit.” Good luck, and good habits.

Editor’s note: This column is part one of a two-part series.


Column by Robert Valentine, Senior lecturer in advertising