Advice for the Class of 2020



Think back to your high school or college commencement speeches. Do you remember who delivered them? Do you remember what they said? Did any of it have an impact on where you are today or how you got there?

The class of 2020 will have its share of inspiring speeches and if you Google “Best Commencement Speeches” you’ll find a mix of amazing storytellers such as Sheryl Sandberg (Resilience and our ability to deal with setbacks), Kurt Vonnegut (Make the world a better place by respecting humanity — and living without hate), and Oprah Winfrey, (“When you're supposed to do something or not supposed to do something, your emotional guidance system lets you know. If it doesn't feel right, don't do it.”)

Perhaps one that is on everyone’s “Top 10 List” is Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford commencement speech where he talked about death, starting over, following your heart, and ignoring others’ opinions.

He also talked about how everything you do in life will have significance:

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

Jobs emphasized that everything will eventually work out. Believe that what you are doing now is a building block for some really great things in the future. Believe in your work and in your vision. Believe you will succeed.

Last week, SHRM asked our audiences on Linkedin and Twitter, “If you had to deliver a commencement speech to the class of 2020 in 50 words or less, what would you say?”

Read their responses below and click the links above to add your own words.

Congratulations, Class of 2020!

Bruce W. Waller, CRP, PHR, SHRM-CP
VP,Corporate Relocation, Board Member Texas SHRM, NTRP, CCC, Author "Find Your Lane" & “Milemarkers” Podcaster

Buckle up and get ready for an amazing journey. Success will be filled with potholes of failure. Keep getting better everyday, fuel up with personal development, set big goals for your compass, and take people with you on the journey. Find Your Lane and Accelerate! The best is yet to come! #Nextchat


Scott Hoffman

Helping enterprises augment their workforce to create better and more efficient outcomes.

Listen hard, work harder.

Be good with your money, be better with people.

Never stop learning, read every day.

Build a network, stay in touch with it, find a mentor and mentor those you can.

Help to build the type of world you want to live in.


Lip Hua ONG

Talent Acquisition . Employer Branding

We, who walked the path before you, were better equipped than those before us, as you are to us. But our paths are not any easier except for the helping hands we were given, which we will today extend to you.


Frank Belonus

President & CEO at Falcon Desert International / Chairman, American Business Council Kuwait (ABCK) (AmCham Kuwait)

You are the generation born from University in the midst of a global crisis. You have already faced challenge, fear and uncertainty, yet still prevailed. Proving there is nothing you cannot achieve. Crisis begets change and innovation. Be the catalyst of both, for you are our future.



Plan well.  But, you can never plan for everything.  You'll be thrown some curveballs.  Learn to hit them outta the park. Every experience is experience.  Build upon it.


Breanna Reyes, SHRM-SCP, CEBS

HR Generalist | Employee Relations Specialist | HR Manager

All experiences you face shape who you are. Let the struggles of the past few months shape your career, your life, and your perspective in grace, strength, and compassion.


Aimee Shaw, PHR, SHRM-CP

SR HR Leader at White-Wilson Medical Center, P.A.

Jump and build your wings on the down!  Take risks and don't be too hard on yourself. Always seek to serve others.  CONGRATULATIONS CLASS OF 2020!


Sylvanus Hardiyanto

HR & Organisation Consultant | Advisor | People Enthusiast | Founder, Chairman at fmpedals

Cut all the bullsh*t and make it happen! Welcome to the real world, breaths, smile, let’s rock!


Helen Hammond

Assistant Professor of Management and Marketing, Colangelo College of Business

You are RESILIENT! Now is your time to shine!


Nicholas Kibet Siele M(IHRM)

HRBP |ER/IR Expert |Data Entusiast |People |Culture | Member to the Taskforce on Amendments of HRMP Act 2012.

We have had to change the syllabus, the new normal has challenged last semester's curriculum.


Zeyad Almutawa. PhD

Faculty Member at maastricht school of management

Everyone has his own destination to reach. Believe in yourself and never ever give up, you will be introduced to a very dynamic and hostile world were change is the given norm. Keep yourself updated, focused, persist and be resilient and we will all celebrate your success


Stephanie R.

HR Business Management/Leadership Training/ Organizational Strategist/Corporate Communications

I encourage you to be unapologetically brave in your quest for self and professional discovery. “Try on” different careers, cities, and countries as needed. Eventually, you may feel intense pressure to figure out the purpose of your life within a decade of today’s date. Be intentional yet enjoy the ride.


Pooja Khandelwal

HR||Opportunity Enabler "Helping Organizations To Find Best Talent-Make India More Employable" Imagine The Possibilities

A Man Must Constantly Exceed His Level.

There will be obstacles in life but we should never  Give Up.

We Should Keep Trying Until We achieve our Desired Goal.


Every Problem Is A Gift. Without Problems, We Would Not Grow.

So Don't Be Afraid To Shine; The World Needs Your Light.  #Nextchat



Alaena Mallory MHRM, SHRM-CP

HR Business Partner. Green Belt Six Sigma Certified. For every challenge. There is a solution.

Spread love not hate and for the class of 2020, my challenge to you is how do you plan to make a difference? How do you plan to stand up to racial injustice and to racial inequalities? Your success is your platform, use it, and use it to do good, to be kind, and to show love.


Mauricio Soldi

Bilingual Talent Management Specialist - MSHR

That going through a recession also represents great learning and a key moment to plot their paths forward. Tough times always have a silver lining as well. Focus on being part of the solution instead of being part of the problem will make the crisis a great internship!


Anthony Paradiso, MS, SHRM-CP  @allthingzap

Part1:  Class of 2020. Congrats with such a huge milestone.  This is a big moment in your life.  Whichever grade you are graduating you’ve seen a lot. 9/11, the 2008 financial crisis, Covid19, endless unfortunate deaths surrounding gun violence & people of color, etc. #Nextchat

Part 2:  We have a long haul but I’m optimistic that your generation will lead the fight against the inequities that marginalized groups face every day, a cure for cancer, electing our first female President, fighting corruption, etc. Class of 2020 you got this.


Denise O'Malley @YDWMaestro

Say YES to opportunities to grow and learn - especially if the opportunity scares you or is beyond your self-perceived abilities - as you never know where the experience will take you.


Aamir @aamir9769

Well I wud advice be a long run employee don't change jobs often. Try to learn as much as digital skills you could. Learn & share, take suggestions before you finalised any decision. Promotions & Increments are achieved thru hard work & winning heart of others by u r work.


Mathew Henry @mathew0175

Life's obstacles are not prejudice. They come to all. It truly does "rain on the just and unjust". However, you do have a choice in can allow life's obstacles to be a  stumbling block, OR make them a stepping make you better, stronger, and more resilient.


Your HR Consultant @S1Your

 “Life is a garden- dig it.”


ratethispint @ratethispint

Life is too short. Find your people. Love your job or leave it.


Cobb HR Solutions @cobbhrsolutions

Never stop learning.  Keep growing as a professional and as a human being.  Never settle for “good enough!” 


David Kovacovich @DavidKovacovich

The Rules in Life are Simple:

1. Be humble in victory and accountable in defeat

2. Treat the janitor with the same respect as the CEO

3. Be willing to start at the bottom to prove your excellence


Matt Waddell @WaddellMJ

 “I am sorry that the world you are entering is the one you’ve been given. You now face the monumental task of making it better. It is entirely unfair to ask this of you, but it is what must happen.”



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