work

Thanks, College.

Common real-world skills we learned at college, in or out of the classroom.

  1. Parallel parking: If you’re from the city this might not apply to you, or if you don’t have a car. For those of us from the suburbs or country with a car on campus, we learned to parallel park soon after arriving to college.  This skill comes in handy often when travelling home, to the city, or on vacation.  It also widens your parking possibilities in any situation.
  2. Tolerance for extreme temperatures: As the weather gets colder, we adapt to walking across campus in the cold, with the wind blowing through our layers of jackets and long-johns. We learn in our first semesters to bundle up and forget about being cute.
  3. Independence: Whether you were looking forward to this or not, you become more independent in college. You have to if you go to college more than about an hour away from home.  You (hopefully) learn how to do your laundry, budget your money, clean your room without being prompted, and study and do homework on your own free will.
  4. Time management: Sometimes, it takes people their whole college careers to get this down, but everyone learns throughout their college life how important time management is. Some people know the importance of it and still choose to manage their time badly.  You have to balance classes, studying, work, friends, sleep, eating, and mental health.  Usually this “balance” involves giving up one or more of these things, which one depends on your priorities.
  5. Multi-tasking: You may have been good at this before college, but you’ll be a master by the time you graduate. Multitasking can look like many things: eating while you work, study, or walk to class, taking homework to work, or considering meeting with a study group to be hanging out with friends.

 

We learn a lot in college that may have nothing to do with our degrees, but these skills or pieces of knowledge are just as important as the information we learn in class.  What are some skills you’ve learned in college that have become useful in real life?  What are you most thankful for?

Life Skills College Doesn’t Teach You

When entering the real world after college, many recent graduates are unprepared for the real world and lack basic life skills and knowledge. This isn’t always the fault of the education system or a lack of effort. There are simply some things that we need to know that we are not taught in traditional education. Rather we must make an effort to learn these skills ourselves and must ready ourselves for the real world. Here are five important life skills all students should be taught before graduating college in order to be ready for the real world.

How to Prepare for An Interview

life skills - interview

One of the most important aspects of the real world is knowing how to prepare for a job interview. It is important to know how to dress oneself properly and appropriately and how to behave within an interview. Although past experience and knowledge are very important in getting a job, the interview itself is how employers decide whether or not you are suitable for the job.  Before going to an interview it is of vital importance to do proper research on the company, the position itself, and the culture of the position.

How to Do Your Own Taxes

life skills - taxes

Although many people rely on personal accountants to do their taxes for them, it is important to at least have a grasp on how to go about doing your own taxes. Everyone has to do them and by learning how to do them, you can save money by not hiring someone else to do something that you can do yourself. If you are employed and earning money you will have to file taxes. Understanding how taxes affect your income and whether or not you are being taxed too much or too little is quite important.

How to Cook Proper Meals

life skills - cooking

In college it is possible to skate by with only knowing a couple basic meals or by relying on meal plans or the traditional ramen noodle diet that college students seem to go with quite often.  Once in the real world it is necessary to not only know how to cook for yourself, but to know how to prepare healthy meals that get you all the nutrients and vitamins that you need. By learning how to cook proper meals you can not only keep yourself healthy, but can also save quite a bit of money by cutting down on how often you eat out.

How to Manage Money

life skills - money

Many college students have never had much financial freedom and have had their parents either handle their finances completely or control them for the most part. In the real world, it is necessary to keep track of what you are spending and earning in order to ensure that you have enough to make it through the month or to do the little things you want to do. Investing in a basic finance course or enlisting the help of a friend to teach you how to handle money is a great idea. It is also a smart idea to learn a little more about banking and to learn to budget expenses monthly and weekly.

How to Balance Social and Work Life

life skills - work life balance

One of the worst mistakes that recent graduates make is focusing too much on either the social or professional aspects of their lives.  Some focus wholeheartedly on work, putting all of their effort into furthering their career without leaving time for relationships and friends. On the other hand, many do not know how to focus on their work without cutting down on the social life that they enjoyed during college, and struggle to either find a job or keep up with their work life. Just because you have graduated doesn’t mean your social life needs to be over. However, it doesn’t mean that focusing on work isn’t important. It is imperative to find a healthy balance between the two.

Although it is important to enjoy college and the freedom that you enjoy, it is also necessary to learn a few life skills that are of the uttermost importance.  Doing so will help you find success upon graduating.

Music at Work

Yesterday my mom called me from work. She was having trouble being productive—the office was quiet, she had tons of work, it just didn’t add up! Then it struck us, put on some music. Even as background sound it can add something extra and get your creative juices flowing.

Now, some people hate distractions when they’re working. They would rather sit alone and work than ever be bothered by people, or worse music. But on the flip side, some people can’t work without it, they need music, or background movement to get anything done.

In fact, this summer at my internship, everyone had headphones in and was glued to Spotify as they completed their daily tasks. I loved it—but then again, I’m team music. It helps me focus while also letting my brain breathe. When it’s silent and I’m studying I feel like I’m boring myself to sleep!

But since the verdict is out, and there are supporters on side of the “to listen or not listen at work” debate, I was surprised to find that some companies are blocking free streaming sites.

My mom couldn’t pull up Spotify, Pandora, or even AOL music—all blocked. But why? Just because these sites exist doesn’t mean everyone at the office wants to listen to them, and just because music is involved doesn’t automatically mean it’s a distraction.

In my mind, the option to listen should be available—music isn’t like facebook, you don’t need to block it! As long as you are doing your work, or studying, or whatever your task list might be, then it doesn’t matter what else is going on around you. While I do agree with blocking shopping, and social media—music is pushing it.

But maybe I’m wrong? Where do you weigh in?

Do you listen, or shut it completely out?

 

Being Professional Online

While you’re interning this summer, you also want to keep in touch with all of your friends online. Your Facebook wall is full of curse words, your Twitter feed is all about partying and you have a ton of posted pictures that are seemingly less than professional. Your boss just friend requested you—not to mention potential employers are constantly looking you up online—so it’s time to clean up your online platforms.

One of the easiest things you can do is control your privacy settings. When friending your boss, it’s important to make sure your profile doesn’t have anything too scandalous. Keep your albums private—if necessary, don’t feel like your employer or colleagues can’t see anything you post, unless you just really want to keep your personal life and work life completely separate. If friends post inappropriate comments on your wall, you can either make your entire wall private or make individual posts private. Even easier, you can talk to your friends about what they post; hopefully, they can clean up their act, at least while you’re actively interning.

Besides privacy, you also need to be conscious of what you are posting. Watch how much personal information you put on your profiles. When tweeting, don’t post every single thing you’re doing every hour of the day. Not only could it lead to unexpected stalkers, but it’s annoying for everyone who follows you. This isn’t necessarily unprofessional, but it makes your profiles overall appear too simple and doesn’t necessarily show off your true self—at least as an employee or intern. Instead, try retweeting posts from your company (not every single one, or even every day) and other places that interest you. Post some interesting articles related to your school major or skills. The more variety you have throughout your online profiles, the easier it will be for employers—current and those seeking you out for interviews—to paint a picture of what you can bring to the company and also how they can cater to your interests.

Finally, and most importantly, to keep a professional Facebook or Twitter, don’t post negative comments about your work. Think or yourself as an ambassador for the company. If you’re posting that you hate your boss, you have an annoying colleague, or that you just hate what you’re doing, you shouldn’t expect to be working there much longer. If you feel the need to vent—about work, personal issues or anything like that—keep it off the Internet. It might be funny, it might lead to a lot of comments on your Facebook wall, but it’s not classy or professional. Besides, a good phone call or in person venting session is always fun.

Overall, just be aware of what you and others are posting on your profiles. It’s not hard to remain professional, it just takes active attention to your accounts. Good luck, interns!

– ToonyToon

Summer Budgets for the Frugal Intern

A summer of interning can be expensive, especially when you have to move to a different city. Even worse when you’re unpaid or making hardly anything. Being in a new city can add to the stress of money problems, since you don’t know what’s an expensive store or where the best bargains can be found. But there are ways to easily save your money while learning a lot at your internship—without having to call up your parents to get you some money pronto. By the end of the summer, you’ll be a money saving machine.

The best way to insure saved money is setting up a budget for each week or month, whatever’s necessary. But don’t just set up how much you’ll spend here and there for show—you need to actually stick to it. To make a successful budget, you need to first anticipate the necessities. If you’re in a housing arrangement not already paid for, rent is obviously a first priority (and don’t forget about utilities if those aren’t included). After subtracting rent from the amount of money you can afford to spend, food is priority number two. Think carefully about how much you actually think you’ll need to spend on food. If you want to save money, you should plan on stocking up on groceries to cook for yourself and pack a lunch instead of eating out at every meal. Instead of stopping by Starbucks on the way to work everyday, make yourself some Folgers. Carry a water bottle in your bag for throughout the day. These little things add up to a lot of money left in the bank.

Within this budget, you should plan to have extra money—not spending it all until there’s $0 left. By including some savings, you’ll always have something to fall back on if necessary, and saving your money is a good life practice in general. You do not want to go into debt because you were in the city and just couldn’t resist going into every store and buying a little something. Even if it’s not a shopping spree, every purchase counts toward that budget and could eat into your next meal or subtract from your rent—neither of which will end well for you. Plus, you never know when the unexpected could pop up. What if you get hurt and need to go to the hospital (even with insurance, this can cost you and your parents might not be able to take care of it immediately)? Or it’s late at night and you feel a little freaked out by your surroundings so want to take a cab home to be safe. Having extra for the unplanned for events will make you feel better and more prepared. Besides, having a big 0 staring at you is not going to make you feel good about surviving the rest of the summer on your own, no matter how pretty the new outfit or how awesome the new video game is.

Of course, you also need to think of the wants and needs. Obviously we all want a killer wardrobe and to go to an amazing concert, but we don’t need these things—you need clothes, duh, but not items that come with a $100 price tag. That doesn’t mean you can never splurge a little, but make sure you have room in your budget for it first. Keep your paycheck (if applicable) in mind and think about what you can actually afford to splurge on. If you already ate out several times this week and rent’s coming up, don’t tempt yourself with shopping trips No one said being frugal was easy, but to survive as an intern, sometimes we have to make sacrifices on the more fun aspects of life for a bit.

Saving money can be hard, especially with an itty bitty paycheck, but it can be done. If you’re serious about having money always available in the bank and not spending your summer entirely broke because you can’t stop spending, you need to carefully weigh your purchases. Buy groceries instead of dining out—you’ll save money and you’ll learn a lot of great dishes to prepare. Try not to buy new clothes or video games unless you really have the money to spare or actually need a new dress for a special work event. Don’t let yourself fall into debt because you decided to buy a new TV for your summer apartment. It isn’t worth it, and it’s better to get into good spending habits now so you’re prepared for when you’re alone in the future. Be strong, be smart with your money and try not to stress too much—it is summer after all.

Happy saving!

– ToonyToon