It’s graduation time, from kindergartens, eighth grades, high schools, trade schools to colleges/universities. Words of wisdom are coming from the mouths of successful people at graduation programs. Are the graduates listening?

Are the times tougher for graduates now than in past years? Are the challenges more formidable? Are our graduates better prepared than in prior years?

The answer is a conditional no!

Darker economic times confronted many graduates in the past. The challenges were greater in prior years. Graduates are better prepared in some areas and not that well prepared in other fields of life. That’s the conditional no.

As one who grew up during the late 1930s and during World War II in the early 1940s, faced military service in Korea, and now recognizes how tough the economic times were then (at the time we were too young to understand fully the economic conditions), we can’t say this is a more difficult era for graduates. We do have more better-prepared graduates, but the average level of preparedness isn’t any better from our vantage point.

Economic times have changed because of years of technological advances and now the arrival of the digital age. There are fewer opportunities in manufacturing. There is more retail competition and more forces in the race for advertising, communication and public information dollars. Sports and entertainment fields are booming, but the competition is fierce. Education positions are limited. Engineering opportunities are good. There is a strong market for sales positions. Health care opportunities have never been stronger, but the future is unclear. Transportation positions are average. Electronic and computers offer many jobs.

There always is a place for entrepreneurs and the risk-takers. Finance is a more solid field than most. Construction is up and down but the opportunities are there. There always are positions in the public sector. Seek public office on the local level. The military is right for many of our young people. We haven’t covered the entire employment field, but touched on the more obvious.

So what’s the advice for the graduates? Go where the enjoyment is. There’s nothing more unfortunate than people working at jobs they don’t like. Even if the pay is lower, if it’s work you enjoy, do it.

Don’t join the ranks of where weakness reigns, such as giving up, not sticking to a venture, and not riding out the rough times. Continue to read, which is the avenue to knowledge. Be informed. Keep up with the news. Be kind to others. Help your neighbor and community. Be a volunteer. And by all means, listen and heed advice from those who are experienced. Raise your personal moral standards. Embrace high values.

Graduation, especially for high school and college graduates, really is the beginning of the learning experience. For the college graduate, don’t look down on those who do not have a college degree. There are many brilliant minds in the work force in bodies of people who do not have degrees. They have experience, something a college graduate doesn’t have.

We feel sorry for the college graduate who believes he is ready for the real world. He or she is not. The bright ones listen and learn from those who have experience.

Generation after generation of Americans have proven they have the true grit to be successful and to help make this country strong and maintain that strength. We are optimistic that still is the case.