In honor of graduation season, CNBC Make It spoke exclusively to some of the nation's top business leaders and personal finance gurus, career coaches, bestselling authors, CEOs, self-made millionaires and billionaires and Wharton's No. 1 professor. For the next few weeks, we'll be rolling out the speeches or bits of advice that they are most excited to share with the Class of 2017, using the hashtag #MakeItNewGrads.
It's one of the most exciting times of the year – college graduation season. Graduates of the Class of 2017 have extra reason to celebrate, as they enter the best entry-level job market in years.
As graduates hang up their caps and gowns and head into the working world, they'll face brand new challenges. Employers are looking for passion and a willingness to learn, so grads should focus on jumping in and trying to take on the new challenges that come their way in their first job.
While somewhat lacking in experience, recent graduates can set themselves apart by focusing on three skills to get a head start:
It may sound cliché, but change is the only constant when it comes to growing your career. Though change may be uncomfortable, your ability to deal with change and ambiguity in the workforce can help build a foundation for lasting success.
Throughout my career at Mars, I've worked across various countries and sectors. From beginning my career on the manufacturing floor of Mars Drinks in the UK to taking the reins as president of Mars Chocolate North America, each role I've held has differed from the last – and has challenged me in new and exciting ways.
Change pushes you to learn different skills and work with new people. It's a stepping stone on your journey to becoming a well-rounded, confident leader.
Whether you're on the manufacturing floor or in the marketing department, the importance of relationships in the workforce can't be understated. Forming solid relationships will help you build trust and influence early in your career.
It was a lesson I learned early on, while an engineer with Mars Drinks – the people I worked with at that manufacturing plant brought my experience to life. Helping others succeed means you'll have coworkers standing by to take risks for you in return. When I was first offered the role of CFO for Mars Chocolate U.S. I was nervous – but I trusted my team, and they gave me the confidence to go for it.
Taking the time to get to know your boss, your coworkers, and eventually anyone you manage will make a huge difference in both your career growth and your enjoyment along the way.
I find that, particularly among females, young workers tend not to put themselves out there for new opportunities. Volunteer for a project that will teach you something new. Learning and growing in your role comes from jumping in for opportunities that match your personal and professional values. In that same vein, you've been hired for a reason – so raise your hand!
The world of work is changing, and companies need your input. Your fresh ideas on products and processes will help companies continue to innovate as we look ahead to the future.
There is no class syllabus for recent graduates entering the job market. But with an open mind, a willingness to build relationships and the confidence to meet challenges head-on, you'll be well on your way to success. As I've learned over 25 years at Mars, every day in your career can be a new adventure.
To all the recent graduates out there – good luck!
Tracey Massey is the president of Mars Chocolate North America.
Look for more pieces of advice from leaders like Melinda Gates, Dave Ramsey and others over the next few weeks, and follow along with the series, as well as other content relating to the Class of 2017, on social media using the hashtag #MakeItNewGrads.