With graduation season in full swing I wanted to share some of the lessons I have learned and how some of those could help upcoming graduates.

If I were my younger version now I would have made some changes based on my current knowledge and experience. First and foremost I would have set clear career goals and read more books at that time. I wish I had developed better negotiation skills to get exactly what I wanted. When I landed my first job there were many aspects within the job description that was not easily understood by me, however I gave my best every single day and that helped. I would have also used the internet to my advantage.

We all fear about our first job but we should see it as a challenge or more importantly as an opportunity to show the world and ourselves what we are made of. If I were looking for my first job in today’s information age I would feel ecstatic about the many opportunities available, the internet which provides so much information on every field, ability to easily network and find masters in my field which would give me more confidence. LinkedIn is a great start for any professional aspirant.

Looking back from where I started I am extremely satisfied where I have landed now. I feel I have done my work to the best of my ability and over the last ten years I have been working on building my skill set by reading a lot of books, taking related certifications and keep improving on my key result areas. My self-confidence has increased quite a lot from where I started and I think the true measure of success is directly related to the self-belief which is the catalyst for achievement. Today’s graduating students are better informed and have a ton of information that can be used for gaining advantage over previous generations.

I am quite happy that I wasn’t choosy about the first job. I just wanted to get started somewhere and move up the ladder. I think that is the best approach. What I find too often today is graduates are expecting to land that elusive dream job in their first try which can be arduous. Here are 10 lessons graduates can learn from.

1. Take whatever opportunities come your way first, build your reputation and then greener pastures will follow.

2. Learn everything you need to know about your prospective employer. With the internet and Google there is no information that is out of reach.

3. Study your industry and see if there are already podcasts/articles you can get hold of.

4. Get some tips from people who are already successful in your field and try to emulate them.

5. Don’t be afraid of rejections. There will be some interviews where you won’t be able to nail it but you can only learn with experience. Don’t take it personally.

6. Have a game plan for growing in the job. Plan to take classes, certifications and read books in your field.

7. Prepare thoroughly for an interview and read about how to attend an interview. Getting your first job is not easy but with thorough preparation you can get a head start. Read the book “What color is your Parachute” by Richard Bolles. Other books which can help your career are Linchpin by Seth Godin, A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink and Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin.

8. Build a strong network of connections. Most jobs come through connections. Whenever you meet anyone immediately connect with them and keep note of everyone you meet.

9. Be flexible in your demands on the first job. Remember you have to first build your reputation before demanding for perks.

10. Be teachable and ensure that you still have a beginner’s mindset when you start. Yes you have graduated but this is just the commencement to the real world and it’s not the same as school/college. In fact as John Wooden said “It is what you learn after you know it all that counts.”

I remember reading about Peter Drucker the renowned management guru where he said the students who had a vision of the legacy they wanted to leave turned out to have better careers. So the time to start thinking about the legacy you want to leave is now. Think about what your footprint would be in this world. With so many avenues available to showcase your talent you can leave a rich legacy for generations to follow.

Dream big, Showcase your best talent and let the work speak for itself. Finally remember continuous learning is the vehicle you need to launch your career into orbit. So while you can take a little break since you graduated the real life begins now.

It is good to remember this quote from Jeff Bezos “I knew that if I failed I wouldn’t regret that, but I knew the one thing I might regret is not trying.” Good luck.

The views expressed here are my own and do not represent my organization.