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10 Inspiring Career Tips from Famous Graduation Speeches

Brittney Morgan
Brittney Morgan

Every spring, celebrities, writers, CEOs, politicians and other important personalities make their way to college campuses to send off new grads with a motivating speech about life and what the future holds. These commencement speeches are filled with great career advice that can apply to anyone on any career path, from learning to change your dreams, accepting failure, taking risks and doing what you love.

Whether you're struggling to figure out what to do with your degree and you're just starting out in your career, or you're about to make a major career change, these 10 quotes will definitely inspire you.

Stephen Colbert – Northwestern University, 2011

"If we'd all stuck with our first dream, the world would be overrun with cowboys and princesses. So whatever your dream is right now, if you don't achieve it, you haven't failed, and you're not some loser. But just as importantly — and this is the part I may not get right and you may not listen to — if you do get your dream, you are not a winner." (source)

Michelle Obama – Tuskeegee University, 2015

"Maybe it feels like you're supposed to go to law school — but what you really want to do is to teach little kids. Maybe your parents are expecting you to come back home after you graduate — but you're feeling a pull to travel the world. I want you to listen to those thoughts. I want you to act with both your mind, but also your heart. And no matter what path you choose, I want you to make sure it's you choosing it, and not someone else." (source) [8 Steve Jobs Quotes Every Entrepreneur Should Live By ]

Jon Stewart – The College of William & Mary, 2004

"Love what you do. Get good at it. Competence is a rare commodity in this day and age. And let the chips fall where they may." (source)

Katie Couric – University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2015

"Too often, graduates rely on serendipity to lead them to the right job … and end up stumbling into a career. Now is the time to consider all the infinite possibilities with introspection, deliberation and thoughtfulness. Visualize the road ahead. Think about what excites you, what really gets your engine going. Engage in some real soul searching. Take a good, hard look at your strengths and weaknesses. A fulfilling professional life can be found at the intersection of what you love and what you're good at. And when you think you've discovered it, go at it full throttle." (source)

Oprah Winfrey – Harvard University, 2013

"From time to time you may stumble; fall you will for sure — count on this. No doubt you will have questions, and you will have doubts about your path. But I know this: If you're willing to listen to, be guided by, that still, small voice that is the GPS within yourself — to find out what makes you come alive — you will be more than okay. You will be happy, you will be successful and you will make a difference in the world." (source)

Nora Ephron – Wellesley College, 1996

"What are you going to do? Everything, is my guess. It will be a little messy, but embrace the mess. It will be complicated, but rejoice in the complications. It will not be anything like what you think it will be like, but surprises are good for you. And don't be frightened: You can always change your mind. I know: I've had four careers and three husbands." (source)

Christopher Nolan – Princeton University, 2015

"In the great tradition of these speeches, generally what happens is the speaker says something along the lines of, 'You need to chase your dreams.' But I am not going to say that because I don't believe it. I don't want you to chase your dreams. I want you to chase your reality. I want you to understand that you chase your reality not at the expense of your dreams, but as the foundation of your dreams." (source)

Steve Jobs – Stanford University, 2005

"You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do." (source)

Jane Lynch – Smith College, 2012

"Let life surprise you. Don't have a plan. Plans are for wusses. If my life went according to my plan, I would never ever have the life I have today. You are obviously good planners, or you wouldn't be here. Stop it! Stop it now! Don't deprive yourself of the exciting journey your life can be when you relinquish the need to have goals and a blueprint." (source)

Jim Carrey – Maharishi University of Management, 2014

"So many of us choose our path out of fear disguised as practicality. What we really want seems impossibly out of reach and ridiculous to expect, so we never dare to ask the universe for it. I'm saying, I'm the proof that you can ask the universe for it — please!" (source)

Image Credit: Joe Seer/Shutterstock
Brittney Morgan
Brittney Morgan
Business News Daily Staff
Brittney Q. Morgan is a Brooklyn-based writer and editor, as well as a graduate of Drew University, where she majored in History. Her work can be found all across the web at Apartment Therapy, HuffPost, and more. You can also find her on Twitter at @brittneyplz.