Students sitting on a bench

Skills You Need When Preparing for the Real World

The last year in college involves celebration and anticipation. You’re about to earn a degree, but at the same time, you’re facing the working world and are tasked with starting a career. If the last four or so years were difficult, remember that their whole purpose has been to prepare you for life after school. As you’re about to graduate, it’s time to evaluate: Are you ready for the real world?

The final semesters are the perfect time to consider whether or not you’ve got what it takes to succeed in post-college life. Now, while you’re still in school, there are opportunities at your fingertips to pursue knowledge and experiences that will grow vital skills. With that in mind and in the spirit of self-evaluation, consider the following list of capabilities that all fresh college grads can benefit from in today’s work world:

  1. Self-Motivation. It doesn’t matter what industry you pursue, an employer isn’t going to call every morning to make sure you don’t sleep late. Likewise, a job hunt can’t depend on your mom’s reminders or your friend’s pushing you toward another interview. If you haven’t already learned the value of self-motivation, now is the time. Being an adult means taking ownership of your responsibilities and life.
  2. Job Hunting. Finding a job requires more than a degree; in today’s competitive job market, it’s crucial to know how to market yourself, interview, make connections, negotiate offers and more. Be sure to take advantage of your college career center. Set up an appointment to discuss your resume, job prospects and ideas for starting post-college life on the right foot.
  3. Personal Finance. Taking home regular paychecks brings up a host of personal-finance issues you need to understand: budgeting, debt, insurance, interest, loans, 401Ks, savings accounts, etc. Use these final months before graduation to take a course, join a group or read a few books about how to manage money. When entering the work world with solid financial principles, you’ll reap considerable benefits over the life of your career.
  4. Critical Thinking. The ability to take in a large quantity of information, evaluate it and make decisions accordingly is important for more than college essays. Critical-thinking skills are necessary to evaluate everything from household management to job offers. Thankfully, because college is made to grow analytical skills, you’ll probably be well prepared in this area. If not, try to audit a philosophy class before school is done.
  5. Teamwork. Even the most independent workers will have to collaborate with other professionals from time to time, so if you know you’re rusty on team-building skills, do something about it now. Start a study group, join a pick-up sports team or volunteer somewhere in your area. Often, the more you practice working with others, the easier it becomes.
  6. Software Systems. Whether you’re an aspiring graphic designer or about to graduate with an English degree, the more proficient you are in essential software systems, the better the job prospects. If there are programs that could be beneficial for your field and you haven’t learned them yet, take the time now to beef up your skills. The less a potential employer has to train you to do a job, the more marketable you become.

The final months before college graduation represent a unique period of opportunity in your life — so make the most of these days! Look for seminars and groups that you can participate in to grow new skills. Talk to other students and professionals about life in the work world. The more you do to prepare now, the better your initial post-college days can be!

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About the author

Alison Blankenship
Senior Marketing Manager
I graduated Cum Laude from The Ohio State University (Go Bucks!) with degrees in Marketing and Communications. I’ve been working in the textbook industry for over 10 years, and my work has been featured by College Confidential, Mercy College of Health Sciences, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Pennsylvania Tribune, Montana Technological University, Oregon Live, and other organizations.

I’m an obsessive lover of dachshunds and a passionate reader of books. I’m an avid Pinner and poster, and I’m all over our Facebook page, Twitter account, Instagram and Pinterest.