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Lessons We Learned Along the Way

In high school, most of us learned how to type (some of us on manual typewriters), how to cook, sew and make vases out of wood. But what we did not learn are those real-life transferable skills that are needed in the workplace. A lot of us started our professional lives through trial and error, usually with one mistake after another. 

It would be great if we could share the lessons we’ve learned along the way with the younger generation that is preparing to head off to college or embarking on a professional career. Such lessons include: 

  • Show up on time or perhaps 15 minutes early. 
  • Put in a full eight hours of hard work. Make your day count for something. 
  • Listen and learn. Do not go in with the attitude that you know it all. 
  • Show respect for your boss, co-workers and yourself. Others will respect you for this. 
  • Work overtime when asked. Put in that extra effort to show your value and worth. 
  • Don’t gossip and talk poorly about others. Be an example of someone others can trust and someone in which they can confide. 
  • Take credit only for your work, and give others credit for their work. 
  • Push yourself and work hard, setting the example of what you want others to see and believe in. 
  • Create a strong career plan/trajectory, forging a path for your continued professional success. 
  • Know it’s OK to make mistakes; learn from those times and use them to continue to evolve and grow. 
  • Above all else, believe in yourself, have strong integrity, be honest and trustworthy, and know that you are the only one who can determine your future success. 

No matter if we are just starting our first job or are a seasoned professional, each of us can use these pearls of wisdom to ensure we are being the very best version of ourselves, both personally and professionally. 

Want to learn how you can create a strong welcoming, affirming and inclusive culture? Contact the Michigan Diversity Education Center at We are ready to help your organization to grow, prosper and succeed.