iVentures: New graduates and new ventures

June marks graduation season, a time to celebrate achievement and new beginnings.

It’s also a great time to try something new, whether you’re a graduate in search of the next step, or an employer in search of new perspectives to boost your business.

Many Florida International University (FIU) graduates are starting new jobs, and others are still in the process of seeking what comes next: a job, a venture—or, increasingly, a combination of both. With the economy in transition, it’s a tough year to graduate and jobs are not abundant. My advice to graduates:

  • If you don’t find “the” job, find “a” job, an opportunity to learn and move in the right direction.
  • Think creatively about using your skills in the workplace.
  • Think about your professors: do you have anything to offer in terms of putting research skills to work on a grant?
  • If you’re not working full-time—or even if you are—can you put some of your time into volunteering for a cause you feel passionately about? Chances are, you’ll encounter people from all walks of life who pick up on your energy and can help guide your career.
  • Think about opportunities to build your network.
  • Find an internship.
  • Take graduate courses.

Above all, don’t stand still!

Anthony Fernandez and Irma Becerra-Fernandez

In times like these, those of us more established in our careers should share responsibility for helping young people find their way. Our challenge: how can we invest in budding entrepreneurs?

In her Forbes column, Sramana Mitra shares an example of a pair of entrepreneurs who had the opportunity to live, rent-free, in a grandmother’s empty South Florida condo while their business got off the ground. My daughter Nicole came to me with a proposal to invest in her Zumba dance teaching certification, a passion of hers. For the $200 course fee, she could earn $40 a week, getting a return on the investment in less than six months. To me, that’s a good investment.

I’d take the notion of investing one step further: make the extra effort to bring a new graduate into your business, even if it’s on commission, or as an intern. I’ve had great support from students working on commission in my own business. Can you bring in a recent graduate to help you on sales, someone who can visit potential customers and find new leads? How about a social media whiz who can keep your Facebook page up to date and help you communicate with customers? You may not be able to pay a salary, but in the right situation, commission will serve as a fine incentive.

New graduates have a lot of energy and fresh  ideas on how to grow a business. It’s a great way to lend a hand to the next generation of entrepreneurs.

This year, graduation holds added meaning for my family. My son Anthony is a newly-minted college graduate who will be moving to New York for a new job. His path, like many others, is paved with hard work and his own adventures in running small businesses, and he’ll benefit from those early experiences for the rest of his life.

Please let us know your stories about your start in business after your college graduation. Do you have an opportunity for a new grad to help your business? As our economy faces tough times, we need to share ideas to help new grads get the best start possible.

View all articles by Irma Becerra-Fernandez.

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