Advice from Brown

What’s the Best Advice You’ve Ever Had?

“When I first went to grad school, I had studied History in undergrad and I was studying AmCiv in grad school. At that time I found myself studying a lot of women’s history. I told my professor, ‘Nobody told me I was going to be a women’s historian.’ And she told me, ‘There are some things you just have to learn for yourself.’

So my advice would be—do the work, do whatever, study what interests you. And put a label on it later on. What you do will teach you what you need to become.” -Kate Monteiro, Historian

“I heard this in like, 10th grade, so it’s a long time ago. And kind of cheesy, but, how does it go—it’s important to do well, but it’s more important to do good. For me that’s been a good lens to look at the world with, and I like the grammatical irony. The idea is, that you can do well, but for what sake?” -Manuel Contreras, ‘16

“The concept of ‘fake it till you make it.’ Not that you should pretend to know what you don’t know, but that you should be confident in what you do know. That’s how I’ve muddled through in the beginning whenever I’ve started a new job. And, be kind. That’s more important. Be kind to everyone.” -Amy Tarbox, Career Counselor

 “In my 20s, I was a freelance writer at the Providence Journal, and my editor said to me, ‘You have to learn how to use a computer’. So at nights she would take me to our computers—these enormous IBM machines, really primitive technology—and she trained me on her own time, knowing that as a young journalist, I really needed to have the newest tech skills.

I’m really grateful that she did that. And even now, I love creating online courses. For my generation, it was computers, and for your generation, I think it’s coding. Learning to code will be crucial for you guys. I think some people are shy of learning new technology, but having tech skills is, I think, essential. It lets you be in the middle of your own moment in time.” -Elizabeth Taylor, Professor of English

“Somebody once told me this: ‘You don’t owe anyone anything’. I think it’s about the concept of self-care. That no matter what else happens, you should come first.” -Duncan Gallagher, ‘18

“I started doing police work when I was 23. My first day on the job, my supervisor told me, “Tell the truth, even if you messed up. Because I’m your supervisor, and it’s my job to have your back.” In police work, you have to make a lot of on-the-spot decisions, and you sometimes don’t follow policy and procedure. It’s fine to make mistakes. But if you make a mistake and lie, that’s much worse. I’ve never made a mistake bad enough to lie about, but ever since I became a supervisor, I’ve been telling my guys that line. I think it really helps build trust and rapport.” -Officer Kelly Mitchell, Campus Police Officer

“Jump, and the net will follow. An older friend of mine told me that in college, and it’s come in handy many times. I’ve followed that advice when I’ve been forced to make professional choices that involve risk, and I’ve always been happy with the outcome.” -Dan Bisaccio, Professor of Education

“Stay in school. When I graduated high school I wanted to take a year off, but my parents were adamant that I go to college. So I went to college, got my degree, went into business and retired at forty-nine. Staying in school was the best thing I ever did. I do work part-time now, because I love it! Before this I was retired for a few years, unemployed, getting really tired of playing golf.” -Cooper, Security Officer

“Not one piece of advice, but something I’ve learned over time is: To stay whole to my core values, but hold the other things loosely. I consider myself pretty Orthodox in my beliefs in God and Jesus, and I still hold those beliefs as absolute. But I’ve recognized that people come from different backgrounds and angles, and that some of my Christian beliefs aren’t necessarily core things. So I’ve learned to separate my true Christian beliefs from the peripheral things that matter less.” -John Michaelson, Religious Advisor

“In my twenties, I had this time where I was unsure what I wanted to do, and looking back at my life I thought I’d made the wrong decision. And I remember my uncle telling me, “Don’t look at regrets as regrets, because everything you’ve done has affected your life in some way. Look at it as a lifestyle change.’” -James Rathbun, Retail Manager

“Treat yourself! If you want something and have the ability to get it, then why deny yourself the good thing? Such as ice cream—if you want to get ice cream, you should, because there’s no point in suffering for something as small as ice cream. It’s not super deep, but just in life situations it’s useful. Like if you’re really tired, and you want to watch an episode of Netflix, but you have to study, then you should just watch a little bit of Netflix! That’s my advice.” -Ciara Hayden, ‘18