This week’s question: What career advice would you give to a high school or college student interested in your type of job?

Emily Baker- Managing Partner at Gallatin Public Affairs. Don’t think of college, especially your undergraduate degree, as just another box to check. Embrace it as an opportunity to learn and hone skills you will draw upon the rest of your life. Don’t discount core classes as not relevant to your interests or career choice. With few exceptions, strong communication skills including writing, presenting and speaking will benefit you throughout life, as will problem solving, time management and the ability to work well with a team. Business and finance classes can impart foundational knowledge just as useful to a creative freelancer as to a corporate manager.

Whether you are undecided, torn between passion or a paycheck, or set on a career path, think about acquiring abilities that can help you land a job and importantly, perform well, because earning a reputation for hard work, logical thinking and finding solutions will be more important to your long term success than your GPA.

And, most importantly, embrace a love of learning and never stop.

Jim Nottingham- Vice President & General Manager at HP IPG. There are three key  things I tell high-school/college students - definitely good advice for my type of job, but actually applies to succeeding in any job.

1) There is no substitute for hard work. We live in a WW economy, so at any given time you are guaranteed that someone in the world is trying to out-work you - they are trying to out innovate, out negotiate, out partner, and out sweat you - so winning takes a commitment to hard work.  It is also true that most things of value are not easy - thus the value - set a high bar if you want to create value.

2) The world doesn't owe us anything. Create the world you want to live in and be the change you want to see in the world.  Find opportunities in unforeseen changes and/or challenges that you face.   Don't sit back and let life happen to you - find opportunities to create your path and go make it happen.  Also keep in mind the most difficult time to make a change is typically the best time to make a change...

3) Never, ever settle! Applies to all aspects of life - doing your best is a choice. Never train for the Bronze Medal - you should always set clear goals to win - goals that require your best effort.   This is true in all aspects of life, including ethics and integrity - never settle for doing anything less than the right thing.  Finally, don't settle for "easy" - there is rarely value in "easy”.

Jeff Sayer, Former Secretary of Commerce- Idaho, now Managing Partner at Rectify Horizons. No matter what field you study, pursue the path that provides the most technical training you can receive.  Any enhancements you add to your training that involve math, science, engineering, data analysis or computer programming will permanently set you apart from your peers in that field.  It will be more difficult and will take longer but it will reward you for years and be worth every minute of extra work.  

Justin Vaughn-Professor at Boise State University. I'm a college professor with expertise in U.S. presidential politics. If a high school or college student expressed interest in doing what I do, I would focus on two big things. First, complement the deep expertise in the narrow field that you will need to be successful with a broader appreciation and understanding. Spend a year in Washington DC. Travel abroad. Work in government and/or politics so that you can combine intellectual prowess with personal experience. Second, make sure you develop skills that are valued not just in the professional arena you think you want to spend your career in, but in other fields, too. Very few people finish school and then work in the same field for the next 40-50 years. You may decide you want to make a move, or you might have bad luck and find yourself needing to make a move. Being able to demonstrate competence and value outside of your primary field will be essential. 

John Zarian- General Counsel, National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators. If I were advising a student interested in becoming a lawyer, I'd urge them to obtain education and/or experience that would strategically prepare them to practice law in a particular area. For example, pursue an engineering degree and then practice patent litigation. Or, earn a graduate degree in finance and then concentrate on securities law. Or, serve in the military and then provide legal services to veterans. Knowing an industry (and your clients) before you start practicing law will help you better understand their legal needs -- and increase your market value and earning potential.