Since I completed college in three years, I graduated a year earlier than most of my friends. When it came time for them to graduate in 2019, I sat down and wrote a letter compiling all of the “wisdom” I had learned in my one year, post collegiate experience.

Given that this letter is one of the better things I’ve written and I know I fair bit of people graduating college this year, I thought I would reshare it.

“Wherever I’ve lived, I’ve always had a screwdriver in the kitchen drawer. Preferably the kind that has several interchangeable heads, or whatever those pieces are called. You always need a screwdriver for something.”

One Good Turn: A Natural History of the Screwdriver and the Screw by Witold Rybczynski

Dear Graduate,

Congratulations! You did it! Despite what you might have tweeted about dropping out and becoming an alpaca farmer during finals weeks, you pushed through and can now call yourself a college graduate.

Congratulations! Again! I know that it’s kind of cliché to say but seriously congrats. You did a lot of hard work to get here. Be proud of yourself.

But also remember that your college degree is just a piece of paper. A very useful piece of paper, but a piece of paper, nonetheless.

Ultimately, it is a tool and like any other tool its value lies not in its mere existence but rather what you decide to use it for.

However, since a college degree doesn’t have limits on just how useful it can be, it is one of the most versatile tools ever invented. A Phillips head screwdriver can’t unscrew a bolt with an Allen head on it. A sledgehammer won’t be able to unscrew it either.

Yet, if let’s say you major in Philosophy, and then go into business selling organic radishes, your degree can be used in a multitude of ways, from designing the marketing campaign, to how you interact with your customers, to how you hire employees.

(And when I say degree here, don’t think that I just mean the classes you took. A college degree to me is the entire college experience, from the clubs you joined, to the things you organized, to the friends you made.

So, whether you end up in the exact career you planned on, or in something seemingly very different that your chosen major(s) like me, use your degree in any way you think of, traditional or not.

As a reminder of this, here’s a tool you’ll probably find useful in post collegiate life, no matter where you end up.

Congrats again,
Mark Herring

This letter is to be given in tandem with the gift of a 4-in-1 Screwdriver.

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