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.

Take the Job Offered Now or Wait for Your Dream Job?

You’re a little fish in a huge pond. You’ve gone through what feels like a million interviews now. Your closet contains more business attire than you ever thought you could possibly own. And the main event of your day is trying to figure out new ways to make your resume stand out even more as you continue to search for other opportunities. But today, you get a phone call. Company X would love to hire you! They weren’t your first choice, and you just had an interview with Dream Job a week ago, so they could still get back to you. What about all the other places you interviewed with? What if a better job comes along? What if they don’t pay you enough? What if you hate it? What if you just take a deep breath, and chill out for a second. You just got a job offer, congrats! Do you have to take it? No. Should you take it? Well, that depends.

First off, don’t feel like you have to accept the job on the spot just because you’re excited to even have an offer, your parents are breathing down your neck to get to work and the company seems really excited to work with you. It is a big decision to make, so you’re allowed to tell them “Thanks so much for the offer, can I have a few days to let you know?” Most people on the job hunt are going on multiple interviews and possibly getting offers from multiple companies, so it’s not uncommon to have to let the choice simmer a few days before forging your path.

While making your decision, there are some questions you should ask yourself. Do you and the company fit? This means do they have goals you’re interested in, do you agree with the work that’s being done there, could you be happy working there, and even thinking about how you got along with the interviewer(s) and anyone else you met at the company. This is probably the most important question you can answer. Just like you choose your friends, you have to be careful about who you choose to work for. You don’t want to be miserable at work and hate everyone you work with or hate what you are doing there. Even if it isn’t your first choice, you have to be able to see yourself working for this company, making friends and ultimately enjoying what it is you’re doing. If the answer is no, then you really shouldn’t accept the job, regardless of pay or benefits.

Besides whether or not you, the company and your potential colleagues can be like peas in a pod, you have to think of your future. Will this job enable you to further your skills and acquire new ones? Consider whether or not there is room for promotion, or the potential for you to work with other departments or branch out beyond your typical work duties. Should you leave this job and company one day, you want to be able to say you got something out of the job. If you’re simply sorting files and doing things you’ve done for internships and not growing, it won’t be worth your hard work and time. You also should look into the potential to be fired. Do some research and make sure the company is doing ok, if they’re stable and what kind of turnover rate they have—keep in mind that certain professions simply come with a high turnover rate, no matter who you work for.

You also need to think of the benefits from the job. Will you be able to pay rent and live off of your salary? What other kinds of benefits, like insurance or research facilities, will come with accepting the position? Besides being financially secure, you have to make sure you have the means to do the job at hand. For example, if you are to be a researcher or fact-checker, make sure the company has the ability to let you access whatever kind of information you need. Consider whether you think you can do the job well—just because there are a lot of perks you want to take advantage of, you shouldn’t accept unless you know you can do it.

At the end of the day, it depends on what you feel comfortable with and what your gut (or heart) tells you is best for your future. If you’re optimistic about landing that job you interviewed for at your favorite company, then take some time and wait it out. If you’d rather play it safe, accept a job at another company if you think you can be content working there. Remember, just because you accept a position, doesn’t mean you can’t ever progress or change career directions down the line. Working with one company now doesn’t mean you’ll never get a chance at that dream job later. Regardless of whether or not you say yes or no, always be respectful and even try to keep in touch with the people you spoke to. You never know when Dream Job can turn into a nightmare and you might want a new setting.

Good luck!


I’m reading Essentials of Sociology Down To Earth Approach

How to Use Your Study Abroad Experience in a Job Interview

I’ve always enjoyed traveling to new places. Whether it be a summer vacation to Disney Land or a field trip to the museum downtown. As a business major, it only seemed natural to pick up a minor in international business. Maybe I’d get a job at a big multinational corporation and live out of my suitcase as I jet set around the world. That would be pretty sweet…right?

I started taking Japanese courses in order to fulfill my minor requirements. My Japanese professor also taught a summer study abroad program in Akita, Japan. I jumped at the opportunity faster than a 12 year old girl getting backstage to a Justin Bieber concert. I won’t bore you with the details, so I’ll sum it up in two words and three punctuation marks–TOTALLY AWESOME!!! Study Abroad in Japan, Oga Penninsula, Namahage Demons I finished my last semester of undergrad after my summer sojourn to Japan. I went straight into graduate school the following semester and spent the next two years grinding out my degree. When I started interviewing for my first big boy job, I started to realize that hiring managers spent more time talking about my three months in Japan than my MBA. The companies I interviewed for had absolutely nothing to do with Japanese technology, manufacturing, or trade. But they spent the majority of the interview asking me questions about my exotic extended vacation. Why?

You have to think about it from their point of view. Hiring managers conduct the same monotonous interviews from pretty much every applicant that is straight out of college. My GPA was blah…I majored in blah…I was in blah fraternity/sorority….BLAH! BLAH! BLAH! At a certain point, they probably stop caring about how much fun you had in college. Because they sure as heck aren’t having the time of their life working 9-5 talking to inexperienced kids like you.

How do you make yourself stand out? Can you sell yourself in a five minute story? What would that story be? Back packing through Europe or building clean water wells in Africa are a lot more interesting than winning the championship game of your flag football intramural league.

Unfortunately, you need more than an entertaining tale to land your first job out of college.

Hiring managers are looking for someone that is a secure investment. College students with part time experience in a totally unrelated position are not a safe investment. But someone who voluntarily moved across the world in order to pursue their dream and further their education might seem a little more reliable. There are key personality attributes that hiring managers are looking for. Some of these can be exemplified by studying abroad and living to tell the tale. I’ve listed four key characteristics that you can emphasize in a job interview.  I’ve also included some sample interview questions that I’ve heard in the past.

1. Ability to Adapt  If you can flourish alongside strangers in a strange land, you can probably do so on your home turf. Employers are looking for someone who can start producing as soon as possible. New hires must be able to learn quickly, so having documented examples of your proactivity is a plus. More importantly, new workers must be able to integrate into existing departments and teams. In a lot of cases, personality type outweighs skill set. It doesn’t matter how smart you are if you can’t work well with others.

Interviewer: As a new hire in a managerial role, how would you deal with department members that are older and have been working here longer than you?
Reply: I’m sure everybody has reservations about the new guy. I don’t blame them; hopefully I can convince them through hard work and relentless dedication that I’m a good fit for the organization. I’m used to being the fish out of water, so I know how to approach strangers and win them over. 

2. Willing to Travel No brainer right? Having study abroad experience on your resume is the best way to show potential employers that you’re willing to go that extra mile…literally! Being able to travel is a requirement for a lot of awesome jobs (from pharmaceutical salesman to Antarctic researcher). Saying that you’re willing to travel in an interview is one thing, but having real experience is another.

Interviewer: This position requires a lot of travel two months out of the year. Are you comfortable being on the road for that amount of time?
Reply: I have backpacked through Asia, kayaked across the Gulf of Thailand, slept in a bullet train and accidentally woke up in a different country; all while having zero contact with friends and family. I think I’ll be straight.

3. Non Verbal Communication Skills After my first week in Japan, I realized that I should have studied more Japanese before my trip. Due to my broken Japanese, I had to rely on basic phrases and body language. It took some time, but I became a master of non verbal communication. Fortunately, I could use this skill in a corporate environment to easily interpret the behaviors of my superiors and co-workers. Being able to tell what direction my boss is leaning is pretty sweet. Getting along with your teammates is vital as well; it helps to know when to back off or when to step in.

Interviewer: You will be working with department heads, regional account managers, and executives, but you won’t necessarily see them on a day to day basis. How do you make the most of your meetings and interactions with them?
Reply: I prefer to be overly prepared for meetings so I don’t spend the majority of my time taking notes instead of working with my peers. It’s hard to read your bosses reactions when you’re scribbling down buzz words on a Starbucks napkin. I like to do all my research ahead of time so I can provide sound recommendations and answer any questions someone might come up with.

4. Self Awareness You learn a lot about yourself when you are forced to survive on your wits alone. Sure you’ll make friends, but they are essentially familiar strangers. In order to be a successful, you need to know what you’re good at and what you could improve upon. If you have any major weaknesses, like not being able to read a frickin’ language, you need the humility to find help.

Interviewer: What is your biggest weakness?
Reply: I figured you would ask this question and I don’t want to give a B.S. response. I’m sure I have plenty of weaknesses, but none of them pertain to this position. I think I would be a total rock star at every thing thrown my way. And if I don’t think I could step up to the plate and hit a home run, I’d find somebody else that could pinch hit and help our team win the game. That answer totally sounds B.S., but it’s true. I’m not afraid of asking for help. With that said, I’d be damn sure I wouldn’t make the same mistake twice. I’d learn everything I could and become a better team player.

Study Abroad, Sushi Bar







Keepin’ it real, while keepin’ it safe.



I’m reading The Art of Public Speaking