The United States and Canada are two of the most educated countries in the world, and we’re lucky to have access to some of the best educational institutions out there.
Although school is often necessary for many of the jobs available to us, our education system can’t prepare us for everything in the world. There are several skills that an expensive piece of paper won’t help fill, but these skills are often necessary to possess in order to succeed in life and especially as an entrepreneur.
1. Communication skills
The one critical skill that literally is important in every aspect of life and work. Whether you’re conversing with co-workers, family, managers, or just acquaintances, having clear and effective communication skills is what will help you succeed.
Although in school you speak with teachers and classmates, it doesn’t prepare you for what it will be like out in the real world conversing with clients or colleagues. For example, students can graduate in a field like sales, but be a very quiet and introverted person which means they’ll be in for a big (and likely uncomfortable) shock once they are working in the field. Communication skills are what will make and break you, and with younger generations communicating solely on digital devices, this can be one of those skills that often won’t come naturally.
2. How to handle money
We learn the basics of math in school, we learn how to calculate an angle of a triangle, or what X equals in an equation, but one of the things that is often missed in school is learning how to handle money in the real world.
Whether you are a business owner trying to create cash flow projections, or just a new grad trying to manage monthly bills, having some cash sense is valuable to help you succeed. Although we can wish schools would focus on practical, everyday math, it’s our responsibility to teach the next generation practical money knowledge and ourselves. This will set us up for success instead of setting us up for overdue credit card bills and piles of debt.
3. The importance of connections
We’ve all heard that it’s not about what you know but who you know, yet for some reason, when we’re students in school we just settle. We don’t bother to make connections outside of our friend circles, we don’t bother to really get to know our professors, and we graduate realizing that we know absolutely no one in our industry.
If there’s one thing that I wish I did when in school and even in my early days of my career, it’s to keep and value connections. Make an effort to stay in touch with classmates upon graduation; you never know where they will end up or when you may cross paths again. Plus, eventually, this will be a good group of people to know within your industry. Put yourself out there at networking events or conferences, and actually follow up with that pile of business cards that have accumulated in your wallet. You never know when someone within your network could come in handy for skill sharing, a reference, or other work opportunities.
4. Never stop learning
So you’ve graduated, and now you can officially end your decades of studying and make some money, right? Wrong. The world around us is constantly changing, and within a year your career could be obsolete or completely changed, that’s why it’s important to continue learning no matter where you are in your career path.
We don’t know everything, and there’s always something we can learn that will help improve our skillset and expand our minds, so look at each new challenge or opportunity and learn and grow from it.
5. Using feedback to improve
In school, we are given back assignments and tests telling us how we did. We’re given feedback on how we can improve or provided with the correct answers, but we usually throw these in a box or the trash and never look at them again. Because of this, when we graduate, we often find it a huge learning curve to take the feedback we get in our careers to improve or grow from.
Taking feedback, whether it be from customers, managers, or friends and family is a part of life and is what will help us grow into the people, entrepreneurs, or employees we want to be.
One of the most important things that you need to realize upon graduation or while a student is that school is not the end-all-be-all. It’s not going to teach you everything you need to succeed. So take it upon yourself to not just focus on the hard skills, but also the important soft skills too!
About the Author
Lauren Marinigh is a Toronto-based online marketing and content development professional, who is completely addicted to traveling, puppies, and GIFs.