College Grad Chronicles: A Letter to My 2009 Self

Hey Liz!

It’s Liz from January 2019, here to give you gentle reminders as you dive head first into “Project: Finish Line” – your final 16 weeks of college. First – CONGRATULATIONS! The hard work has paid off, and in just a few short months you are going to be a college graduate. Speaking from ten years into the future I can tell you that you will still call this one of the most important achievements of your life. But let me be clear – your education is not complete! You have so much to learn and your professional story hasn’t even begun.

In just a few short months you are going to land an Assistant Director role at Camp. Sorry, Kiddo – I know you are gunning for the Director job. Trust me when I say that this summer will be hard, it is going to teach you how to cope with change in the workplace. Don’t take it so dang personally when Neal hands you a copy of “Who Moved My Cheese?”. And please, for the love of God, don’t wait a year to read this book until you dig it out of the back of your Rav 4. Everyone is self-taught once they leave academia – use the resources that come your way!

Let’s talk about Public Relations (you know, that degree you’re about to get). SPOILER ALERT: You don’t love it. In fact, there are parts you down right hate. I know right now you feel like you are already a total Samantha and that you are about to take the PR world by storm. But I am here to tell you that your life in media relations and corporate branding is meant to serve as a catalyst for bigger, more fulfilling things. Start taking stock in the parts of this field you do love. They will help you find a better path.

You need to know that these first few years of your career are going to teach you so much about how to work with diverse management styles. You will learn how to manage client expectations and work with remote teams. You’ll have teammates that will become lifelong friends, and others that will make you feel small. There is value in all these connections – even if you don’t see it at the time. I need you to learn as much as you can about being a professional so that we can succeed in the years to come. Since we are on the subject, you should probably read my blog post that talks about how to get the most out of an early career path you don’t love.

Do me a favor – learn a little work-life balance, will ya? Find an organizing system that let’s you work smarter, not harder. There is no award for being the last one at the office every Friday. As challenging as it seems in your 20s, saving money and  time management is a whole different thing when you are married with two kids. Oh yeah, congrats on that too – you’ll meet the guy later this year. Say yes when Megan suggests signing up for and take comfort in the fact that online dating is the norm in 2019. 

Mostly, I want to thank you for all the work. For continuing to push yourself to succeed and learning to fail with grace. Please don’t be afraid to say yes to opportunities and to keep going after what you want. You are learning everything we need to get to where I am today. In the meantime, I’ll work on making sure 2029 Liz has some good things to say about the next 10 years. 

Now go rock the heck out of this semester.

All our best,



Liz Helton of Holian Associates is a Personal Branding Expert and Resume Writer based in Northern California. She understands that college students and recent college grads have very specific career needs and may need help launching their career – and nowhere to turn. Previously, Liz spent nearly 10 years in Public Relations, giving her the unique ability to craft concise messaging points and develop story-based resumes that spark action. Liz has a B.A. in Journalism (Public Relations) from California State University, Chico, and is an active member of the National Resume Writers’ Association. Learn more about Liz on our website and at


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