By the time you graduate college, you know a lot about your subject matter. You’re ready to take that knowledge and start applying it to the real working world. Amidst all the classes you’ve taken, however, there’s one that takes a bit more time to master: Life 101.
Some of the most important lessons you learn don’t come from your classes. They happen in your daily interactions with others, your personal experiences and the world around you. These lessons are what we take into consideration each day, and companies are always looking for people who are well-versed in these areas.
Life teaches us all differently – so how will you take notes on what it has to say? Here are seven skills that will help prepare you for life after college.
1. Managing Your Finances
You’ve probably run into fellow college students who don’t know how to balance a checkbook. The fact that universities don’t require personal finance courses contributes to a lack of financial math knowledge.
Apply it to your life: Be the student who takes control of your financial happenings. Start budgeting yourself – save a small amount of your paycheck and start understanding what you need instead of buying what you want. Check out money-saving blogs and learn basic financial terminology, such as compounding interest.
2. Applying and Interviewing for Jobs
You sit down at your first interview, and you’re panicking. Why? You might have heard and read about what happens at an interview, but you’ve never had adequate preparation. What questions will they ask? What should you bring to show them you’re top-notch? When should you follow up? You simply don’t know. How do you fix this?
Apply it to your life: Ask your parents or older friends for advice – they all went through interviews to get jobs. Ask if they can do a practice interview with you. Have a portfolio of your work ready to show off, and always keep updated copies of your resume handy.
3. Understanding Home Responsibilities
Guess you’ve spent a little too much time with housing and meal plans. Look, when you have your own home, it can’t look like a tornado just rolled through. And no, toast and cereal doesn’t count as cooking dinner. What’s worse, if you don’t know how to pay utility bills and other housing costs, there’s a good chance you’ll be sleeping in a cardboard box.
Apply it to your life: Learn how to cook basic, affordable meals. Set aside a few minutes a day to tidy up your living space. Get organized by buying modular shelves or racks. Find out what’s on the bill for your housing and learn how to pay for it on time.
4. Fostering Meaningful Relationships
Did you know that a 75-year study by Harvard University concluded that love is the key to a satisfying, fulfilling life? Strong connections and family relationships were the highest indicator of life satisfaction.
As you’re buried under your textbooks and homework, keep this in mind. You have the potential to be truly happy if you know what it takes to be a good partner – and you choose the right partner, too.
Apply it to your life: Every relationship in your life is meaningful in some way, even if it ends. Each one teaches you how to act and find balance with people. Write down the qualities you have to offer in a relationship, and what you’re looking for in someone else.
5. Dusting Yourself Off After You Fail
All your life, you train for success. In the background, your friends and family shout, “You can do it!” But what happens when you can’t? This is something college students often have a hard time facing. You will fail, and it’s simply a part of growing up. As Buzz Lightyear put it, you don’t have to fly, you can “fall with style.”
Apply it to your life: Remind yourself that this is a small slip-up in the big picture of your life. You can recover and learn from your missteps. Check out stories of successful people who failed miserably before they made it big. Fall back on friends and family who will support you and believe you have the power to keep going.
6. Communicating and Negotiating
No matter where you go in life, you’ll always have to deal with one thing: people. And there’s no avoiding talking to them. Whether it’s your boss, your friends or your significant other, mastering the arts of conversation and negotiation require observance of social norms and boundaries. Mutual respect, active listening and empathy are just a few examples of the many ways you can connect with others.
Apply it to your life: Start by making small talk and then work your way up to more structured conversation. Ask someone how their day is going. Pay attention to what your friends are saying. Remember details about people that you can bring up later; it will impress them. Learn how inspirational leaders communicate, and apply it to your life.
Small negotiations can go a long way. If you’re still making minimum wage at your part-time job, ask if they can bump your pay up a few dollars. If you’re buying a car that’s a little too expensive, ask the salesman if he can negotiate a new price. Know your worth and take it into the real world.
7. Taking Care of Your Mental Well-Being
Unless you’re in a psychology class, people don’t really talk about exploring mental health and its importance in your life. Whether you’re handling stress or anxiety, or more serious mental health concerns such as addiction or depression, your mental health should always come first.
Apply it to your life: Remember it’s okay to take personal days when you really need them. If you’re truly struggling with mental health issues, consider speaking with professionals and potentially finding treatment.
These skills might not be taught in college, but if you can hone in on them now, they’ll set you up for the rest of your lovely life.
You can connect with Sarah on Twitter @SarahLandrum.
While I’m sure your advice is meant for a younger person, it never hurts for us old folk to hear it too.