There are lots of useful things I learned while gaining a degree, but equally, lots of arguably more important things I didn’t learn until I was actually on the job.
Here are five lessons you won’t learn at university….
A blazer is your best friend
It instantly makes you look that much more polished and professional. Everybody needs a basic black blazer in their wardrobe.
How to use email
Sure, you know how to hit reply and send, but did anybody ever teach you when to use reply-all and cc appropriately? What makes a good subject line? How do you phrase a request for something? Should you forward praise emails to your boss? When are emoticons okay?!
That everything is about selling
Even if you’re in a non-revenue generating department – IT, admin, HR, editorial – you still need to know how to present yourself in the best possible light. You’ll need to make it through many job interviews in a lifetime. You’ll need to represent your company to outsiders from time to time. You’ll need to pitch ideas. And if you choose to strike out on your own eventually, you’ll sure as hell need to know how to sell your independent services.
Bring solutions, not problems
Or rather, it’s fine to highlight problems – but it’s infinitely better if you can present the fix at the same time. Bosses like to know that things are working, not that they’re broken. At the same time, be aware not all your brilliant ideas will be used – or worse, they’ll take forever to implement or be warped as they go through many hands in the name of bureaucracy.
The need to toot your own horn
You can do great work, but if nobody knows about it, why bother? (Kind of like that old riddle – if a tree falls in the middle of the woods but nobody is around, does is make a sound?) Self-promotion, like networking, is an occasional necessity (natural for some, nasty for others). Your bosses probably pass on good feedback down the chain to you, but are you doing the same – forwarding on praise, keeping them in the loop on milestones and important updates?
And thus ends my spurt of wisdom for today.
What do you wish they would teach at university?