A Message to Graduates: Your Learning Has Just Commenced

Last updated: Jan 17, 2023

Congratulations to the Class of 2021! The University of South Florida, as well as many other institutions of higher education, held its spring commencement earlier this month. Graduation day is always a noteworthy, celebratory occasion—especially as in-person ceremonies resumed this year. It’s a time for a lot of hugs, speeches, snapping cameras, and flying mortarboards. It’s also a time to appreciate a momentous achievement that signals a major life transition from full-time student to full-time professional.


I flashback to receiving my undergraduate degree from USF in 1992 and fondly recall the excitement of having that diploma in hand. I think back to the many hours spent in the classroom, the caffeine-fueled cram sessions in the library, extracurricular fun, and holding down a part-time job at Publix to boot. There were classmates, professors, and administrators that made the journey remarkable. My family and friends, too, comprised an unflagging support system and were of great help along the way.  

After graduation, I entered the workforce and began an auspicious run of 25-plus years of professional life that continues to this day—with extensive experience in both private and public sectors.  In retrospect, however, I wish I’d been more proactive during the earliest stages of my career. I could’ve learned new, employable skills without the binding commitment of graduate school. I would’ve saved precious time and money if I’d considered programs from continuing education outlets. 

Here’s my sincere post-graduation advice: Make it a priority to excel at your new position and people skills. As opportunities for growth arise, invest in yourself! It’s why offices such as USF Corporate Training and Professional Education exist. Especially now, as remote learning has forever changed the way students learn. Specialized training in applications such as project management and process improvement bring value to any office. These types of sought-after skills maximize marketability and salary potential.


Manager hiring remotely and starting the onboarding process for a new employee.

You are to be applauded, graduates! Today’s workforce—and the world at large—needs your unique combination of ability, energy, creativity, and kindness—in short, it needs a contribution you’re the only one qualified to offer. Remember to see education as an ongoing endeavor. Committing to a lifetime of learning will not only keep your resume solid—it’ll also promote personal growth and general fulfillment. Take charge of your career! I’d be happy to hear from you at https://www.linkedin.com/in/markkoulianos/