Navigating the world of work can be a challenge after receiving your piece of paper. University students learn plenty of skills during the years of study, others are learned through the school of life. I have been out of university and in the workforce for four years. In hindsight there are a number of subjects that would have come in handy had they been included in my pricey tuition fees.
1. How to connect with anyone
Theodore Roosevelt said “The most important ingredient in the formula for success is knowing how to getting along with people.” At university you have to deal with a wide range of personalities and people with various cultural backgrounds. This teaches you certain people skills but an in depth study on how to connect with anyone would definitely have been useful since graduating. Being able to build trust and rapport with people is an extremely important skill in life, for landing the perfect job and advancing in your career. People do business with people they know, like and trust is a cliché for a reason.
How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie is an excellent book to read to learn about how to connect and get along with people. Another way to gain people skills is to throw yourself into the arena. Go to various events where people in your desired industry hang out and network. Go by yourself, it will force you into talking with strangers. The best way to learn is to jump into the deep end. It will be scary, but it will pay off in the end. The quickest way to learn how to connect with others is through practice.
2. How to have self-confidence
Confidence gets you extremely far in life. As a shop attendant at a clothing store once told me, “The best thing a person can wear is confidence.” Confidence is important for performing well at job interviews, landing jobs, entering a new work place and progressing in your career. The truth is if you don’t back yourself then no one will. If Confidence 101 was taught during my BA degree I definitely missed out on that memo.
Confidence can also be learned by pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Toastmasters is a great way to boost your belief in yourself. A public speaking organization, it gives you the chance to talk in front of a group of people and improve your skills. Being able to talk with confidence in front of others is a skill needed for all areas of life, especially in the work place. Toastmasters is a global organization so there’s bound to be a group meeting in your area.
3. How to adjust from study hours to full-time work
The days of sleeping in until 10am and ending class at 4pm are gone. Have you heard of an alarm clock? It’s time to invest in one. Chances are you will soon be welcomed into the world of nine to five, where work dominates the majority of your day. Moving from study hours to full-time work is a massive mental adjustment. The first few months of employment will be tough. You will wish for the days when you stayed up to 2am “studying” and when sleeping in was a daily activity. An excellent tip for adjusting is to treat the employment search like a nine to five job. Make sure you are ready to start making phone calls to potential employers at 9am. Spend your days flicking off CVs until 5pm. This way when you do land your big break the hours won’t be such a shock to the system.
4. How to manage money
There are two types of people in life; the elite who are good with money, then there’s the rest of us. I may have done an arts degree at university but the knowledge I could have gained in a class on budgeting would have helped in the financial department of my life. Everyone has to deal with money, so everyone who goes to university should be taught about money management.
Even after four years of being paid a full-time salary, money is still disappearing from my bank account on a daily basis. I’m not exactly sure who’s taking it. One of my new years resolutions is to document every time I spend money. The plan is to record every item I buy and how much I spend. My bank account balance in January 2015 will show if this resolution came to fruition and if so, how effectively I am managing my piggy bank.
5. How to deal with office politics
Whether you land a job in a big corporation or a small business you will be faced with politics. Unfortunately when you throw a bunch of different personalities together and lock them in an office for eight hours a day there’s bound to be some drama. Your colleagues won’t like your boss, the receptionist will be a pain in the backside or the manager won’t be fit for their job description. This is life. Not everyone is going to get along. There will be days when people annoy you.
Office politics are an inevitable part of work-life. I’m sure even Mother Theresa didn’t always escape them. However, the beautiful thing is that we can all choose not to fuel the drama. There will be days when you want to gossip, but gossip is bad for the soul. Drama feeds on drama. Choose not to dwell on it. It too shall pass.
If I could go back and talk to my younger self these are among the top five tips I would give her, not only to get ahead in work but also in life. If you are preparing to enter the full-time work force, learning these skills will help you adjust and also progress in your career. The world of work can be tough so it's important to learn everything you can to get a foot up. You may have graduated from university but the learning doesn't have to stop there.