University is where you learn and prepare yourself to become a professional in the field of your choice.
Although you often learn about academics at University, here are 10 important life skills many older professionals wish they also been taught while they were there.
1. Being a Life-Long Learner
Many experienced professionals admit to having thought they knew lots of things coming out fresh from university, only to reflect years later and conclude that they actually knew practically nothing about anything.
Learning is unending. There’s lots of knowledge you only gain through time and experience. You’ve got to, at all times, be open to learning so you can continuously develop your personal self and your professional expertise.
Allow yourself to be like a sponge. Don’t exit the University feeling all-knowing — just because you’ve always had straight ‘A’s and graduated at the top of your class, doesn’t mean everything will keep falling into place without any further effort to better yourself.
2. How to Develop Persistence
Back in 2013, Angela Lee Duckworth, an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania conducted her research on non-cognitive traits which contributes to a person’s rate of success.
According to her TED talk summary, she believes that ‘grit’ or passion and perseverance toward a long-term goal, among other things, are great predictors of success.
Schools might need to consider adding some character development exercises within courses to help with becoming more goal-oriented, such as how to use criticism and feedback as means to improve and develop, as well as how to deal appropriately with failure and disappointments.
3. How to Promote Yourself
Overall confidence is not something that can be taught like algebra, but it can be developed and hacked for certain situations, such as when applying for jobs or pitching an idea to a panel.
However, the act of selling yourself is not something that is often taught at university. This is why freelancers and aspiring entrepreneurs — especially those who are younger and less experienced — often find themselves feeling awkward about putting a dollar value on their talents and services.
Even titled professionals in several fields feel the same when negotiating rates with a company or as consultants.
4. How to Be an Effective Communicator
No matter which industry you are in, good oral and written communication is a major key to being effective and successful. Many talented professionals don’t ascend the ladder simply because they are awful communicators.
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5. Professional Etiquette
You may not necessarily be a bad person, but people may assume that you’re a big a-hole, for lacking basic business etiquette and displaying unprofessional behaviour.
These could be seemingly inconsequential things, like not thanking someone for their time after a correspondence, not knowing the right clothes to wear for an occasion, or simply not knowing how to write an email with the appropriate tone.
6. Time Management Skills
How you make the most out of your time is vital. At any workplace, you are always working around a limited time frame. In business, the amount of profit gained is highly dependent on how efficiently a task is accomplished.
Having the ability to analyze, rank, and prioritize your list of everything that requires your time and energy can be very handy in creating more and greater opportunities.
7. How To Effectively Lead Or Work With A Team
Attempting to do the work all by themselves is a very common mistake among many young professionals.
But at work, goals and responsibilities aren’t meant to be handled solo, and delegating tasks as well as team play are necessities. It facilitates the flow of work, making it quicker to accomplish and more effective overall, even if it isn’t currently within your personal skill set.
The reason things can sometimes be challenging is that you will constantly have to deal with people with views, methods, ideas that may be different from yours.
It means needing to invest in building positive relationships that will allow each member to benefit from common goals. It means having to understand that each one of you has a responsibility to others and that each of your actions will affect others, too.
Leading a team of people is even trickier. Managing people and dealing with people, in general, is a tough thing to balance, because as much as you would want to be liked by your teammates, you also want to be an effective leader, and avoid hiring people who are inefficient and incapable of pulling their own weight.
Though team play is incorporated in most schoolwork activities, and lots of school activities allow opportunities for one to lead, working together with others isn’t something that comes naturally for most, and teamwork techniques are often not formally covered in one’s curriculum.
8. Networking Skills
“You are who you know”. Forging connections with people and building relationships create value and is another key ingredient to your professional success.
Although it’s easy to meet people, especially with all the social tools we have online, the University is a great venue to start.
Being an essential part of a network requires you to be equally valuable to others. Your personality and your character come into greater play than just your technical skills and knowledge, so you have to be genuine with people.
Be interested in their lives and be open with yours as well, and soon you will realize that the true benefits of having a great network of people expand beyond just work and business.
9. Money Management Skills
Even before you have any significant amount of savings, being financially literate can help you develop better business savvy and teach you proper strategies in managing your income.
Learning good spending habits and making smart investments are all part of good money management. This will give you security and peace of mind, help you avoid unnecessary expenses or losses, and ensure your time is used wisely.
It also affects your personal development, as learning early on how to better utilize your money and resources will and have created an uncertain future for themselves.
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10. Basic Survival Skills
Some things you are just left to learn on your own or are assumed to have been taught somewhere other than at university.
The truth is, it would help if you actually do get some formal exposure to practical survival skills: urban emergencies such as dealing with a broken down car, reporting an emergency, doing first aid or CPR, or listing and collecting supplies for various scenarios.
Hopefully, as curriculums and ways of learning continuously develop, we will see more concrete ways to incorporate these things in University programs in the future.
Melissa is a young and energetic writer, a mom to a sweet little boy, and a fur-mom to two perfect pooches. Before becoming the Associate Content Director for Project Female, she was a journalist specializing in topics related to women in politics and policy affecting women.