This coming weekend, Dickinson State University sends another class of seniors out into the world to pursue all the dreams and goals they’ve developed for themselves over their last four years with us. Today, college graduates face an often uncertain workforce and many challenges in their paths. In many ways, though, it has not changed for college graduates since Theodore Roosevelt’s sons left their alma mater Harvard College to find their ways to new careers and possibilities.
A letter sent to Kermit Roosevelt on May 1, 1913, while Kermit was working for a railroad in Brazil, is full of good advice for someone just starting out in their career. This letter is primarily concerned with the problem of Kermit’s former supervisor leaving the company and how he now needs to deal with a new manager. Roosevelt is especially concerned with how Kermit may ask for a raise now that the supervisor who knew his worth has left. After going through many reasons to stay or not to stay in a job where he is underpaid, Roosevelt has these sage words:
…Meanwhile, it’s just as you say; you are one of the immense majority whom the Lord helps only if they help themselves – I belong among them myself; and you can never help anyone else unless you have already helped yourself. Sit tight, keep your head cool and your eyes open; I wish I could give you more helpful advice; but at the moment all I can say is what I have said; act after deliberation, and stay with or leave the company after a cool calculation of the chances…
A college graduate’s first steps into the world after college can be nerve-wracking, so keep Roosevelt’s words in mind and good luck grads!