Here’s What 12 Industry Professionals Would Tell Their College Selves

As spring semester (finally) comes to a close, graduation season is in full swing and hundreds of incoming students have been touring campus for weeks. Looking at their excited, curious, even fearful faces, I can’t help but think about all I’ve learned since I was the one touring my school for the first time—which is exactly why I took a look back at all the things CF Office Hours guests wish they could tell their college selves. If their responses prove anything, it’s that all of the college aphorisms we’ve heard growing up are true— time does fly, graduation does sneak up on you, and your experience really is what you make of it. Keep reading for their words of wisdom, and click here to listen to advice from our podcast.

“Motivation is something that is inherent- motivation comes from doing what you love and waking up and feeling good about your life and wanting to try new things and being excited about what the day is going to bring, a lot of it is your own making.” – Joyce Chang, Editor-in-Chief at SELF Magazine

“Be a great listener. In a world where we all are so opinionated and there are thousands of great ideas it’s really about listening to other people’s experiences and finding out really what’s going on in the background of a situation to give you more clarity on how what you’re going to do is going to be different and what you’re bringing to the table is different from a thousand other companies that are doing what you’re doing.” – Hannah Bronfman, DJ and founder of HBFIT

“Take a break for a semester and go somewhere- you’ll never be able to stay in one city like that for a couple of weeks. Study abroad. It’s so special. You have to do it, everyone has to do it.” – Marissa Smith, market editor at NYLON

“You have to stick with the challenges, and have faith that at some point you’re going to turn the corner and say, ‘Wow, I did that.’” – Elaine Welteroth, journalist

“Keep your mind open to possibilities and change. Be able to see what’s going on around you. Understand that when it comes to work skills and career skills, you can really take them from any industry and apply them to any other industry or position… I don’t want people, especially young women, who are just starting their careers to feel like ‘I have to pick this now, and if [I] don’t end up loving it, then oh well, I guess I’m just doomed to a life of misery.’ You can do lots of things. You can take things and pivot. That’s not failure—it’s a really great thing.” – Katherine Power and Hillary Kerr, co-founders of Who What Wear

“Stop comparing yourself to others… Because you can’t be her. You’re not meant to be her, you’re meant to be you.” – Iskra Lawrence, model

“Everything takes time, it’s an evolution, be patient, and enjoy the ride.” – Daryn Carp, assistant to Andy Cohen at Bravo TV

“Go out and work for some inspiring people- do the sh*t work that you hate and learn from it.” – Katie Sturino, founder of Megababe and The 12ish Style

“Really listen to yourself, listen to the things that truly make you happy. Discover who you are and follow these things. You learn on the way, don’t worry too much.” – Garance Dore, founder and Chief Creative Officer of Atelier Doré

“Chill out. Stop putting pressure on yourself.” – Michelle Phan, makeup artist, entrepreneur, and founder of Em cosmetics

“Take risks and try a lot of things. When you’re in your early-, mid-, or late-twenties even, it’s a great opportunity to test out even multiple career paths.” – Suzie Cohen, Director of Brand Strategy at Buzzfeed

Feeling inspired? Click here to download our “letter to self” stationery to leave some words of wisdom to your future self. Then mail it to us at 215 Park Avenue South, Suite 1801, New York, NY 10003, and be sure to provide your personal email address so we can send it back to you in three years!

Featured photo by @kaitlinners.

Never miss a post!