A message to the class of 2012 from the Idealist community on Twitter

Yesterday, one of our interns shared her reflections on Michelle Obama’s commencement speech to the class of 2012 at Oregon State University. While many of us were inspired by Michelle’s words, we wondered what advice our community of change makers would give to this year’s graduates.

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What advice can our community on Twitter offer to the class of 2012? (Photo Credit: Eldh, Creative Commons/Flickr)

To that end, we asked our friends on Twitter to complete the following sentence: “Dear Class of 2012, if you want to change the world, remember…” Here is the advice they shared:

“Dear Class of 2012, if you want to change the world remember to find friends to help you out. No one can do it alone!” ~ @aimee587

“…if you want to change the world, remember you must change yourself first.” ~@SummerStrauch

“…remember to live humbly and compassionately.” ~@MAWGtheFROG

“…remember to start small but think big and watch the ripples reach a nation.” ~@KaulanaNC

“…remember to listen to those you seek to help.” ~@NonprofitJen

Thanks to everyone who shared their advice! You can read all of the responses by searching for #idealist12 on Twitter. Be sure to follow us @idealist and join the conversation.

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Comments (3)


  1. Alex writes:
    July 2, 2012 at 8:36 am

    Dear Class of 2012, if you want to change the world, remember…

    If you have the right connections, everything will fall into place for you, regardless of your qualifications.

    If you have an art history degree, an English degree, a journalism degree, or something similar, and more than four digits of student loan debt, you are, pretty likely, going to be paying it back for the next 20 years.

    If you keep going around with this delusional hope and change and promise and love and peace and happiness mindset, you are going to be taken advantage of. First by “internships” that will teach you nothing and lead to zero job prospects, then by entry-level positions in which abuse will be heaped upon you.

    If you go into an industry without a strong union, you should anticipate that every single day that you come into work will be the day they take you aside and let you go. They will tell you that the company is “moving in a different direction.” and if you watch the job ads, you will see your job description show up about two weeks after you leave.

    If you apply for a mortgage, because of your perilous job situation, you should anticipate that you will suddenly become unemployed for months or even years, at any time. You will then lose your home. So be ready for that, too.

    My advice, after such a grim picture I’ve painted? This:

    Throw away all your flashy toys that require monthly subscriptions. A SmartPhone? Do you literally have money to burn? An iPad? How many songs are you downloading to your iPod at 99 cents a whack? It all adds up. What do you put in your grocery cart that isn’t filled with preservatives and processed drek? How many lousy movies do you go to? Most libraries have DVDs you can rent, you know. Stop falling for every fad because the people pushing them have jobs. And the way they keep their jobs is by making sure you keep doing things that aren’t in your own best interest economically.


  2. Allison Jones writes:
    July 2, 2012 at 9:05 am

    Hi Alex,

    Thanks for sharing. It is certainly a tough job market and we often hear stories of the challenges many job seekers are facing. We address some of these issues in our blog (for example, managing student loans http://www.idealist.org/blog/en/graduating-five-tips-to-manage-your-student-loans/) and provide ongoing resources on how to navigate the job search in our Information Centers http://www.idealist.org/info/About/Content/InfoCenters.

    At the same time, we do believe that there are people out there doing great work, people who want to tackle pressing social issues (like unemployment), and people who are deeply concerned about the world around them. Rather than telling them nothing can be done, we point them in the direction of solutions and opportunities.

    The purpose of this organization and this blog is to help people make connections so they can put their good intentions into action. Are there a variety of challenges to consider when taking your first step? Absolutely! And to that end we rely on this community to share and explore them. Yet we still believe the first step must be taken.


  3. Michelle Dietz writes:
    July 2, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    Kick start your career with a term as an AmeriCorps volunteer! You will learn a lot, gain great experience for your resume’, and receive a monthly living allowance, medical benefits, and an educational award when you’re done. The non-profits I’ve worked for have had many great AmeriCorps members serve with them. The AmeriCorps members build capacity and get things done. They are a tremendous asset in the nonprofit world, and we always gave our successful AmeriCorps members first priority for positions that were open at the end of their term.


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