University is a veritable rite of passage. Most people have been fed an ideal imagery of life from a young age-- going to school, then college, then university, and then finding the dream job and life is set. Despite common objection, university is not supposed to teach everything that one will ever need to excel at life and career. There are skills that people just have to develop along the way, and here are a few of them.
Now, in the workforce and in one's personal life, soft skills such as communication, analytical abilities, problem solving, effective communication, emotional intelligence, and overall just knowing how to deal with people is crucial. While business and humanities students get somewhat familiarised with these soft skills through a lot of their course work, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) students in their academics almost never have to think about developing soft skills. But even in entirely technical career paths, soft skills always give an edge. "There are so many soft skills that I have picked up in my worklife. These are practical and very important in my sector of work. For example, something as simple as pitching an idea to a potential client, or knowing the certain way of talking to them to help me close the deal, I did not learn these from university and these aren't stressed enough at university.
Clients will always know about one through one's profile but they only get the real perception of one when they are interacting with one in real life and see the way one approaches them. And if they like one's personal approach better, they will choose one over any other larger or more advanced firms," remarked Nabeed Rafi, executive producer at Flybot Studios. He also said, "University does not teach how to ace an interview or build up a career path personalised to you and your goals in life. It doesn't give a handbook on how to be a better person overall, or how to connect with people at work and in your interpersonal lives. The only way to develop these is to get out into the world and interact with people, get internships and find work opportunities while being a student, learn the culture from within, and figure out where you would like to be. There is no one-set-path to success. Everyone has a different formula that works for him or her, and I think university life is the time to at least start the process of figuring it out."
Managing money and investments
Bank balance, credit cards, bills and taxes are things that people need to deal with throughout their lives. A lot of students in university and fresh graduates in the work-force are not very adept at managing expenses and savings. Bad money management is the sole reason behind the stereotypical "broke university students". Luckily for this generation, there are plenty of sources online to read up on and learn about money management, banks and taxes, and credit card traps.
Investing one's money in businesses or stocks is something that people should gain some knowledge about. Investing in the right thing at a young age will give high returns that can be enjoyed later on in life. In this case, business students get an advantage of knowing more about these matters, but STEM and humanities students can easily catch up by just talking to people who might know about the ropes or even looking online.
Networking, socialising, and maintaining work-life balance
A strong network is essential for professional success. Just knowing someone or being connected to them on LinkedIn is not good enough, networking takes maintenance. It is important to socialise and keep in touch and maintain a give-and-take relationship for networking. But it isn't all about climbing the career ladder. For a fulfilling life, it is important to have fulfilling relationships, both at work and in one's personal life. Having a strong support system and a good circle of friends is the key to a balanced life.
The pursuit of learning
"Universities aren't supposed to teach you everything. And not everything that you study at university will be directly applicable in the real world. But your learning does not end with getting your degree. At least in my case, I learnt how to keep learning. University taught me the basics and taught me about the power of knowledge. I'm working now in the tech industry and everyday I learn more and more because the world around us is constantly evolving. I have to adapt and become the best that I can be. Don't make the mistake of overlooking the thrill of the intellectual pursuit itself, without the ensuing tangible material value that is grades. Keep learning new things every day," said Saarah Hossain, technology specialist, AI & Data Science at Loosely Coupled Technologies.
The writer is studying BBA at IBA, University of Dhaka. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org