LinkedIn CEO to new grads: ‘It’s not mandatory to know what you want right after graduation’

Ryan Roslansky
Ryan Roslansky.

  • Ryan Roslansky is the CEO of LinkedIn.
  • He says the pandemic has accelerated rapid changes in the workplace, and people will need to keep learning to keep up.
  • Roslansky says graduates might be in a place to help others with their careers in the future and to keep building strong, diverse networks.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Congratulations to the Class of 2021! This is a big accomplishment and a testament to your hard work and the support of those who stood behind you every step of the way.

In your next chapter as a rising professional, you get to discover what you love to do and get better at that step-by-step.

What lies ahead can be life-changing. Some of you will launch new industries, earn Nobel Prizes, start impactful nonprofits, and better your communities. Maybe one of those people is you.

How do you get from here to there?

The first step is realizing that this one-time period of study you just completed is not the end.

In many ways, it’s just the beginning.

You’re navigating your career at a time that’s being shaped by forces unlike anything we’ve seen before – the sudden shift to online education, the push for diversity and equity, the gig economy and new possibilities for working remotely, and so much more.

The good news for all of you starting your job search is that we’re on the road to economic recovery from COVID-19.

Data from our 2021 Grads Guide to Getting Hired shows the hiring rate for fresh college grads returned to pre-COVID levels in October 2020, which suggests that all of you 2021 grads are heading into a healthier job market.

But this is just one moment. The rapid change underway in the workforce is going to be constant. That means you will need to keep learning to keep pace.

Trust me, it’s not the textbook learning you’ve been doing. This is the fun stuff.

Something I wish I knew earlier in my career: you don’t need to have it all figured out at once.

Your job and what you want to do may change – in five years, three years, or next year. You may have a career pivot (or a few), take time off, have setbacks, grow your skills and learn new ones.


At the end of the day, what employers really want to know is whether you can do the job.

So focus less on what job you want in ten years, and more on how you’re going to keep learning over the next ten years.

It can be as simple as taking time to learn something new every day. Listen to a podcast, read articles and books, keep up with trends and thought leaders, or take online courses. Most importantly, build a network of diverse people so you can learn and grow together.

Start with the network you already have of peers, teachers, and mentors, reach out to alumni, or join interest-based groups. These small steps will broaden your network exponentially.

And it works: Members are 4X more likely to get hired when they leverage their networks on LinkedIn while job seeking.

And though you may not believe it now, you’ll soon be in a place to help others with their careers. By building a strong, diverse network you can help others who face significant barriers to opportunity because of their backgrounds, such as where they grew up and who they know.

It’s on all of us to help create a future where two people with equal talent have equal access to opportunity. By giving a chance to one person, we have the potential to help thousands of people.

I’ll leave you with a story that’s been impactful in my own career.

When I was 10, I asked my dad about a Shakespeare quote that had been taped up next to his work phone for years: “When the sea was calm, all ships alike showed mastership in floating.”

He told me that true character and success is defined not by how you act when everything is going your way, rather it’s how you respond when everything isn’t.

I’ve returned to this conversation often because the seas aren’t always calm, something we’ve all learned over the past year.

Congratulations again on this important milestone. Find what you love to do, and get better at it as you go along.

And remember to keep your head up when the seas aren’t calm. Your professional life will be invigorating, exciting, and sometimes challenging – but it will also be life-changing, and maybe even world-changing.

Ryan Roslansky is the CEO of LinkedIn.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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