5 Things Most Colleges Don’t Teach About Starting a Career

There are a few things about starting a career that you don’t tend to think about on campus or in a classroom. Here are the five most common.

Okay. You have been in school for many years. You finish your classes. You’re getting ready to go on stage at prom. You have squeezed into your brain all conceivable knowledge and book knowledge. You are ready to start your career.

While it’s easy to feel prepared at the end of college, there are some things about working full-time that you don’t think about on campus or in the classroom. Here are some things most colleges won’t teach you about how to start your first full-time job after graduation. Keep this in mind as you start your career.

1. To start a career, you need the ability to solve problems.

You answered countless questions at school. You’ve passed a ridiculous amount of tests. For God’s sake, you figured out how to navigate the confusing modern university system and walked out the other side with a degree in hand.

You can solve any problem, right?

The problem is that you cannot let your guard down by entering the labor force. Just because you’ve been trained and mastered the basics doesn’t mean that applying them will be easy.

Problems keep popping up every day as you start your career. Moreover, you will not have a professor to help you solve them. Often the dollar stops at you.

The lack of problem-solving skills among new graduates is so significant that, according to High Point University (HPU), 65% of executives reported that they would prefer colleges to equip students with this important life skill rather than technical skills and training.

If you want to be successful at work, always be prepared to solve problems when they arise.

2. It’s hard (but important) to stay motivated over time.

The above link to the HPU study also reports that motivation is a critical life skill that many young employees lack. This should come as no surprise in a world that is grappling with the aftermath of the Great Retreat.

Every month, millions of workers quit their jobsaccording to CNBC). While many of these steps are legitimate career moves, the number of cases where employees simply didn’t show up for work is staggering.

Even for those who stay at work, it’s easy to get discouraged, feel pressured, or struggle with boredom from time to time.

Ability to see the big picture and maintain focus it’s important at times like this. This shows the employer that you can expect consistent quality work, regardless of your personal feelings at any given moment.

3. How you use your network matters.

Everyone knows that networking is important to getting a job. Your professional connections can also help you move up the corporate ladder over time.

What many fresh graduates don’t know is that a good network doesn’t automatically mean career success. In fact, if you misuse your network, it can backfire.

Work daily highlights the fact that “the key thing to remember when making connections and networks is to never ask anyone at your initial point of contact about anything.”

In other words, don’t only use your network for practical services. You need to invest time in developing relationships, helping others, and ensuring that your network of contacts is strong, no matter how much you have benefited from it lately.

4. Emotional intelligence is requirement at work.

College can be a very self-serving and self-centered experience. Of course, you participate in team sports, join clubs and go to parties. But at the end of the day, you’re trying to study, pass your classes, and finish your studies on time.

This makes it easy to skip college time without really honing your emotional intelligence (EI). However, emotional intelligence is an important part of any successful career.

Very good mind defines emotional intelligence as “the ability to perceive, control and evaluate emotions”. This simple definition can jump-start your career right from the start.

The better you can understand and empathize with others, the better you will communicate and work with others. The more you can evaluate your emotions, the better you will be at filtering your responses and avoiding unpleasant emotional outbursts (and their consequences).

5. Communication is the key to a healthy working life.

At school, you must sit still and look ahead. Often your main communication consists of listening to a lecture aloud and providing written responses later. In other words, there is very little active communication going on.

In the world of work, things are different.

At work, good communication is a critical element on a daily basis. Active listening can help you fully focus on what others are saying and respond accordingly.

If you work remotely, which is common these days, constant communication can also ensure that you stay on the same page as your colleagues or boss.

Start your career with more confidence.

Going from school to full-time work can be both exciting and overwhelming. If you want to capitalize on the former while minimizing the latter, be sure to take the time to learn small life skills like those listed above.

If you can enter the workforce with things like problem-solving skills and emotional intelligence, you will be much more likely to not only survive, but thrive in a new professional environment.


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