If you’ve been out of school for a while, you’re (hopefully) a little wiser now than you were a few years ago. Knowing what you know now and looking back, what advice would you give your 19-year-old self?

That was the question I asked two professionals to answer for my students at Lincoln Christian University yesterday.

LCU hosted an internship fair earlier this week, so folks from a number of organizations were on campus recruiting students for these opportunities. Two of my friends, Jackie and Ashley, were here representing their organizations and asked me if they could have a few minutes to speak to students in my accounting and marketing classes about internships. Sure, I said, if you’d be willing to share with the students a few thoughts about your life after college and what you wish you’d learned or paid attention to (but didn’t).

Here’s a summary of Jackie and Ashley’s advice to their college-aged selves. Not surprisingly, their lists overlapped–a lot.

What I’d tell my 19-year-old self that would have helped me in my life and career

  • It’s important to learn how to interact with adults instead of just your peers
  • Learn how to network and communicate better
  • Meet as many people as you can–you never know where a connection may lead
  • Learn how to be persuasive and to handle conflict with tact and grace
  • Learn how to work with people who are different from you
  • Be humble–be willing to ask for advice and learn from your older bosses and colleagues
  • When someone gives you advice, write it down!
  • Plan ahead: save for retirement while you’re young and get health insurance (because you never know when you may need it)
  • Keep reading and learning
  • Take chances, embrace your mistakes, learn from your failures. Don’t play it safe: be willing to take risks!

Thanks, Jackie and Ashley. Keep doing what you’re doing–it’s important.

You may want to compare their lists with Ben’s.

So what advice would you give your teenage self? Drop it in the comments below.