Walking into the world of business, you'll soon realise that there are many skills your university degree simply didn't teach you.
From competing for a promotion to working with a difficult manager, there are skills that you’ll only learn after starting your career. Even if you think you’re well-prepared for life outside the walls of your varsity, chances are there are many other surprises life and your career will throw at you.
Regardless, of where in your career you are, there is something new for everyone to learn.
How to negotiate and not be taken granted of
If you want to build a successful career and make it through life, you’re going to have to learn very soon in your career that there is power in negotiating. Whether it’s starting a new job, asking for a salary increase or budgeting for a project, brushing up your negotiation skills will be the difference between striking the best deal and being taken for a ride. Because school doesn’t teach you this, like most people, you’ll probably figure it out by taking a few hard knocks.
How to work with people and network
Although you may have had your fair share of group projects and encountered a number of different personalities during your school years, we bet that school didn’t prepare you for what you’d encounter when stepping into the real world.
Learning to work with people is probably one of the most important skills you’ll have to master for success. You’ll have to learn how to handle the low-key aspects of your office culture and the people who make it that way: from your colleague who always has the most inappropriate things to say at the most inappropriate of times, to your manager who shoots down every idea you bring to the table.
The same applies to networking. There is great power in knowing you have a network of people you can reach out to in any situation.
How to manage your time and responsibilities
Unfortunately in the office, there isn’t an administrator to set up a timetable for you and run after you when you’ve missed a submission date. This means that every single day you’ll have to manage your own responsibilities. You’ll have to be accountable for your own work, projects, meetings and emails. If anything goes wrong or you miss a deadline, you’ll have to answer to the mess.
You’ll also realise that there’ll never be enough time in a day. But planning and keeping track of how you use your time, will help you to effectively manage your time.
Remember: You have as many hours in a day as Beyoncé.
How to handle feedback
Criticism whether positive or negative is an inevitable part of life. But the difference between school and office criticism is that in the office, there isn’t a ‘teacher’ to congratulate you when you’ve aced a test or to tell you can do better when you haven’t. In fact, in business, you really are only as good as your last project. When given criticism the onus will be on you to listen to what you’re told, decipher what it means and decide how you’re going to apply it to better yourself.
Remember that receiving feedback of any nature from a colleague or your manager is usually a sign that they care about your personal growth and the trajectory of your career. The responsibility will be on you to remember this and use it to show your capability of learning and growth.
Just as with anything in life, the only way you’ll prepare yourself for the unknown is to go out and get your hands dirty. Learning to navigate some of these skills before starting a full-time job - whether through an internship or a part-time job - will also ensure you’re aware of what to expect.