What I’d Rather Have Taken in College Instead of Philosophy

images (3)Three years have passed since September meant ‘back to school’ season in my life. It wasn’t that long ago, but being able to refer to a time of my life as ‘my college years’ is weird.

As an adult, the only things that I have to look forward to when the seasons change are wardrobe switches and upcoming paid holidays. Currently the fact that it has become socially acceptable for me to wear boots is big deal. Oh, and pumpkin flavored everything has made life more bearable these days.

Being a few years removed from college has allowed me to reflect on my academic experience, and how my education has impacted my career thus far. My degree in Advertising Communications gave me a sturdy foundation to build upon, but there have been many, many, many career-lessons learned brutally because I was unprepared in certain aspects.

Perhaps they can be categorized as education from the hard knock life or growing pains. However, it would have made a world of difference if my curriculum focused on more practical working skills rather than just industry fundamentals and core classes.

Here are a few classes I wish were on my roaster during college:


Adding Original Dialogue to Meetings That Have Already in Progress 

Doesn’t every team jump in tandem?

Group projects were supposed to serve as a training ground for office life- but divvying up parts of a presentation to pass a class is a far cry from reality. After graduation, I only knew how to function in a workplace as a ‘yes ma’am’ intern. I never had the opportunity to work with older, seasoned colleagues. During group projects, my team members were only fellow classmates on the same learning curve.

Speaking up and pitching ideas during a meeting, respectfully giving constructive feedback on a project, and dealing with conflicting opinions were all vital skills that I did not begin learning until months into my first job. It would have been great to have pointers on how to deal with these universal issues.

 Basics of Office Communications 101- Conquering the Conference Call and Differentiating Between CC/BCC

Every time my office phone rang for the first 6 weeks.

The first time my office phone rang, I nearly fell off the chair. As the intern, no one ever called my line. Tripping all over my words every time someone rang was not a good thing, it was evident that my phone skills were not up to par. A kind coworker took me aside and gave me key phrases to use, while I made a cheat sheet of basic phone commands (hold, transfer, dial out, etc).

Still stuck in the academic mode, my initial work emails were cluttered and drawn out. Over time, I recognized if I didn’t have time to read long emails as an entry-level employee- NO ONE did. The importance of briefness, follow up actions and appropriate subject lines became clear over time.

Adding a course that prepares future employees with efficient, effective multi-channel communication skills used frequently in an office setting would be more beneficial than the canny ability to stretch two-page papers into the required eight-page reports all college students master by the end of freshmen year.

How To Make Your Paycheck Last For an Entire Two Weeks Without Living on Spam

Why did I think that spontaneous Target trip was a good idea?
Why did I think that spontaneous Target trip was a good idea?

The best part about working full time is the paycheck. The pride and giddiness I felt when I saw my bank account reach the highest amount it ever had seen was a rite of passage. But as my student loans began to roll in, and I moved out of my parents house- the joy of earning my own paycheck turned to sheer terror.

My bank account was constantly being over-drafted, and I had nothing to show for it. No wild shopping sprees or lavish trips. Just really poor budgeting, that was fixed thanks a handy spreadsheet and better planning. Instead of that dreadful statistics course that was mandatory, financial planning would have been more valuable. Students are now starting their lives in the aftermath of a recession, preparing them to be as financially responsible is crucial.

L-e-a-d-e-r-s-h-i-p:  Find Out What it Means! And How to do It.

Just trying to bring my own cookies to the table,

Throughout college, I learned how to land an internship and full-time job. A solid resume, a professional wardrobe and a dynamic cover letter helped me get through the door. But we never talked about what happened after the job was secured.

Being 22 when landing my first real job, I figured that leadership was something that didn’t apply to me yet. It never occurred to me that the power of leadership is something that every employee needs to grasp as soon as they set foot into their first job. 

The foundation of a good leader is created at the beginning of a career. Through the influence of my mentor, I learned the importance of starting to present myself as a leader through my work. 

Solely functioning on assigned tasks only made me a mindless worker bee. Showing initiative by contributing and implementing ideas that improved a process or projects is what’s grooming me to be seen as a future leader. Most graduate school programs focus heavily on leadership skills, but it needs to be emphasized in the undergraduate programs.

Any suggestions on classes you wish were added to your roaster during your college days?

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