Take the road less travelled

By Bob Gogel

09 July 2015 at 10:34 BST

With limitless opportunities for graduates who want to work hard and make a name for themselves, Integreon CEO Bob Gogel advises them to consider less traditional careers.

Graduates should consider alternative careers Constantin Stanciu

This spring, thousands of law school graduates threw their mortarboards into the air and officially marked their entry (or re-entry) into the workforce. I know there is no shortage of advice from business leaders, parents and social media pundits (of which I am all three!), but I’d like to share my own three pieces of wisdom that I would include in a commencement speech:

Learn the business of your business and become an expert in that. Whether I turn back the clock to my days as an entry-level employee or think about my professional life today as the CEO of a global company – one thing remains the same – I know how my organization makes its money and how my job contributes to our financial success. Even in the legal profession, your business is about more than the practice of law. To this year’s graduates, if you want to succeed professionally, I say this step is the most important to get right. 

Work globally – it’s essential experience in today’s economy. Business today knows no borders or time zones. To be a leader in a multinational firm, you need to understand how to work with colleagues, clients and partners in China, Europe, Japan, the Philippines, India, Russia and other countries. Sometimes even in the same meeting, call or video conference! Learn their culture and some of the language, if you can. This will prove invaluable.

Consider alternatives to the traditional path. Follow the words of Robert Frost’s famous poem: “take the road less travelled.” Not everyone should aim to join a top legal or consulting firm after graduation and work their way up to partner or senior vice president. There are limitless options for graduates who want to work hard and make a name for themselves. New associates join Integreon every year for a better quality of life than their counterparts might experience at law firms, and they are learning and growing just as much in their day-to-day work – if not more. We do not per se require time in the trenches first, so this can mean wonderful opportunities to do great work in support of some of the world’s leading corporations.

There’s a lot more I could share but I’ll save it for when I get the call from my alma mater.  Where else should graduates turn for advice and words of wisdom? We can find inspiration from beyond the business world, in the likes of Robert De Niro, Natalie Portman and Tim Cook. 

Wherever you go, I encourage graduates – young and old – to continue learning, working hard and focusing on adding value.


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