Professor Terell Stafford, Director of Jazz Studies at the Boyer School of Music and Dance opened the Temple University 2011 Commencement with an inspired and magical jazz trumpet solo.
And then native Philadelphian Chris Matthews, host of “Hardball” on MSNBC and “The Chris Matthews Show” on NBC, gave the best speech I’ve ever heard at a Temple University graduation ceremony, and I’ve been attending them for more than 30 years! Congratulations to Temple President Ann Weaver Hart and her team for bringing such talent to the stage of the Liacouras Center.
Matthews decided to speak to what was most on the minds of the record 5900 graduates who actually RSVP’d to attend the ceremony and their families: How to get a job. Speaking with both passion and humor, he provided 5 specific points of advice for the graduates.
1. Show up! Don’t phone or e-mail or fax your resume. It’s too easy to ignore or say no to such an approach. No one is out there looking for you. You have to physically put yourself into their faces.
2. Ask! When you are face to face with people, tell them what you can do for them and why they should invest in you. Then ask them to do it. You have to ask. Make it hard for them to say no.
3. Take on investors. If they can’t give you a job, ask for help or advice. People who help you once will help you again. It’s human nature for people to want to share in the credit for your success. They want to say they helped you back in the day.
4. Don’t do it yourself. Keep your friends close. Stay in touch with classmates. Network. Exchange information. You’re only in this alone if you want it that way.
5. Upbeat beats downbeat. Everyone understands the economy sucks. When people say “no”, keep saying “yes”. Even if it’s not what you want, grab the job that gets your foot in the door. When vacancies occur, employers don’t say, “Let’s search through some resumes.” They ask, “Who can we promote into this vacancy who we already know is reliable, competent, loyal, and likable?” That’s how the world works and how careers get built.
To insure that these 5 points of advice are not forgotten like most commencement speeches, Matthews provided graduates with a “tchotchke of value” in the form of a plasticized card with the 5 points printed on them! Great souvenir of a memorable graduation.