Lessons learned

I find meeting with university students to be one of my most rewarding experiences. Their enthusiasm and desire to understand the realities of the professional world are infectious. To ease their post-college journey, I've developed 12 tools to take to work that I wish someone had shared with me when I was their age.

1. Don't feel entitled. The world doesn't owe us a living. The sooner we take responsibility for success and happiness, the sooner we will switch from blame to taking action.

2. Establish meaningful relationships. Teamwork is often the key to success, whether at school or at work.

3. Make a good first impression. We employ marketing techniques every day with our families, friends and colleagues. We rarely make a poor first impression on someone on purpose. But sometimes we forget to try. We try to present our value proposition in most meetings, and at some level, eventually we brand ourselves with a positive identity.

4. Support your supervisor or leave. When we least want to talk to our bosses is the most important time to knock on their doors. The individuals we dislike are often the ones from whom we can learn the most by engaging in honest, respectful dialogue. Don't run from adversity.

5. Respect others. Gossip and negativity create disunity, reflect poorly on our characters and drain our energy when we need it the most. There will always be something to complain about.

6. You don't always have to be right. Co-workers who disagree with us aren't necessarily stupid. Other people usually want to succeed, too. Their values and perspective might just differ from ours. There isn't always a right and wrong way. Seek to understand other people's points of view and find win-win solutions.

7. Avoid negative behavior patterns. It is much easier to destroy than construct.

8. Expect difficulties. Overcoming challenges is the door to professional advancement and personal growth.

9. Seek out a mentor. Those with more experience than us can help us find our way and help us navigate through challenges.

10. Never lose hope. You can make a difference. Take pride in your abilities. One person can change the course of a class, a project or an entire nation. Seek out positive people when you're discouraged.

11. Concentrate on making a difference today. Each moment contains the past and the future. What is important is that we do our best today. That will set the course for the results we seek tomorrow.

12. Learn from your mistakes and especially from the mistakes of others.

Lisagor founded Celerity Works LLC in 1999 to help information technology organizations accelerate and manage their business growth. He is program co-chairman for the November 2004 E-Gov Program Management Summit. He lives on Bainbridge Island, Wash., and can be reached at lisagor@celerityworks.com.

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.


  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group