Making the Transition:Advice for Dukes from Dukes

JMU Associate Vice President for University Planning and Analysis, Dr. Brian Charette offers advice for graduating seniors.


As we begin counting down the days until the 2013-2014 school year comes to a close, many students are excitedly looking forward to summer vacation and all of the fun activities, trips, internships, etc. that come with it. For one group of students, with the approaching summer season also comes a very special date: May 10th, 2014. On this particular day, the class of 2014 will participate in the JMU Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony and in doing so they will officially conclude their time at JMU. From there they will begin an exciting and unpredictable journey into post-graduate life. This time is very exhilarating, but also can come with some uncertainty and anxiety. In order to help ease those worries, we at Career and Academic Planning have enlisted a very prominent leader on JMU’s campus to provide some helpful advice regarding the transition from college student to working professional.

Dr. Brian CharBrian Charetteette is the Associate Vice President for University Planning and Analysis. His role as AVP has him supporting Career and Academic Planning as well as the Office of Institutional Research. He also supervises the budget for Student Affairs and University Planning and serves as the university’s SACSCOC liaison. He was an adjunct instructor in the College of Business for many years and is currently at work developing a leadership class for the Honors program to begin this fall.

We asked Dr. Charette three questions that directly relate to graduating seniors as they approach life as a growing professional. Here is the advice that Dr. Charette had to share:

If you could give your 20-year-old self one piece of advice, what would that be?

“Too often, we ask students ‘what’ they’re going to do in the future when the better question, I think, is ‘who are you going to be?’ This means that what matters are your (1) beliefs/values, (2) your relationships, and (3) your passions. When you are on your deathbed 100 years from now, those will be what truly matter. So, 20 is the perfect age to discover and wrestle with what things are really important to you. I think that’s one of the great things about the college experience. What matters to you? Truth? Faith? Generosity? Compassion? Achievement? Productivity? Accomplishment? Love? Any career you pursue that doesn’t align with your beliefs/values will ultimately cause conflict and frustration. Second, how are you willing to sacrifice to deepen your closest relationships? What do you spend time doing that makes you a better son, daughter, friend, student or colleague? Finally, what do you love to do? What kind of stuff would you do even if you wouldn’t get paid for it? Teaching? Writing? Designing? Selling? Caring? Researching? Creating? Organizing? Listening? Advising? Problem-solving? Pay attention to what you love doing because ideally, it should lead your career pursuit. (With the caveat that there may be times, particularly early in your career, when you don’t necessarily love your job.)”

What is the most valuable lesson you learned throughout your transition to becoming a professional?

“Success is a paradox. When you get your mind off yourself and serve others – God, family, friends, colleagues, the marginalized – that’s true success. One of the most important phrases I’ve learned is, ‘It’s not about me.’”

Are there any motivational or inspirational books that you would recommend to students who will soon be entering the professional scene? What are they?

Blanchard/Trust Works: Four Keys to Building Lasting Relationships

Covey/The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Patrick Lencioni/The Three Signs of A Miserable Job: A Fable for Managers (and their Employees)

Stone, Patton & Heen/Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most

Freedman/Work 101: Learning the Ropes of the Workplace Without Hanging Yourself

As senior Dukes approach May 10th, it is easy to become overwhelmed or anxious about what is to come following graduation, but we hope that Dr. Charette’s words of advice will assist you in confidently taking on post-grad life. Additionally, if there is anything Career and Academic Planning can assist you with in making that transition, please contact us at

As we inch closer to graduation day, keep an eye out for more posts from JMU CAP containing advice from leaders around JMU’s campus!


2 thoughts on “Making the Transition:Advice for Dukes from Dukes

  1. Marvin and Linda Hoffler says:

    This article contains outstanding advice for college graduates and anyone transitioning to the next phase of one’s life!!! It should be appreciated by all who “like” it.


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