About 3.4 million high school seniors and 1.8 million college students are a part of the class of 2013.
There is no shortage of advice for these students who are beginning a new phase of their lives. Commencement speakers across the country have been telling these young people to “aim high,” “reach for your dreams” and “you’ve got to get off your butt to make a buck.”
That last piece of advice was from former Alaska Governor and VP candidate Sarah Palin.
While I’m eager to hear what the Beavers will be told Thursday – my daughter graduates from Ballard High School – a speech that caught my attention over the weekend was from Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg.
She’s taking the recent message of her book “Lean In” to a younger generation, especially women, just beginning their careers. The bottom line, she says, is don’t start a marriage or have kids until you are well established in your line of work.
“Ask yourselves what would you do if you weren’t afraid? Then lean in and go do it,” Sandberg told graduates at Sequoia High School in Redwood City, California.
During her 15-minute commencement she also told students not to listen “anyone who may attempt to put limits on you.”
“I see too many people holding themselves back because they feel intimidated,” Sandberg said. “I see too many people sitting not at the table, but on the side of the room.”
She touched on the topic of salary disparity, which is hotly debated when studies come out showing women earn less than men in the workplace.
The most common figure cited is that women earn, on average, 77 cents for every $1 a man earns, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.
Even before they get to the workplace, there’s a disparity between what boys and girls expect they’ll earn.
A Charles Schwab survey of teens finds guys expect they’ll have a starting pay of around $79,000 and will earn about $162,000 at the peak of their careers, compared with young women who have expectations of $66,000 and $126,000.
“This generation can lead us to gender equality in the workplace,” Sandberg said.
As high school commencement speeches go, Sandberg’s seems among the more significant. I don’t remember anything ever said at a graduation – mine or any of the others I’ve been to.
What advice would you give the class of 2013?
By LINDA THOMAS