I graduated from college in 2009. I was young, naive and had absolutely no idea what I was going to do next.
It was the height of the recession, and I could count on one hand the number of friends who had landed jobs prior to graduation. Others decided that going to graduate school would be their next step. My only thought was, "How can I get a company to hire me, so that I don't have to live at home for too long?"
I sold all of my uninteresting textbooks, but I kept the ones that I thought would still be useful. Those mainly included topics surrounding psychology and sociology (my respective major and minor). Although I enjoyed reading these textbooks, I looked at them and thought, "What can I take from these books that could help me get a job?"
Next, I looked at my transcript. This list was heavy with psychology, sociology, business, English and a few computer science classes. But while I gazed at this piece of paper, I realized that very few — if any — of these classes would benefit my career in the long run.
I've been in the workforce for just under seven years, and I can confirm that the classes I took in college did not prepare me for my career. No, not even the "business" courses.
A lot has changed since 2009, but the concept of learning a bunch of information just to pass a test makes less sense today than it did back then. After reflecting on my seven-year career to date, I've compiled a list of classes that would have benefited me and my counterparts had they been taught at universities.
1. How To Make Money
Money is a taboo subject for some, but it shouldn't be. The bottom line is, you need money to survive.
In my opinion, chasing your dreams and passions are extremely important. But making money is important, too. If you can find a way to do both, kudos to you.
Money was never brought up in any of my classes. Yes, we performed case studies for fictional companies in my business classes, but they never told me how I'd be able to make money once I left university. In my sociology classes, the only time money was brought up was when topics regarding social classes were discussed.
No one told me that the way to make money is to provide value to the marketplace. Additionally, no one told me that there are hundreds (if not thousands) of ways to make money nowadays. Since money is such a valuable resource, you'd think teaching 18- to 22-year-olds how to make money would be a popular course. But nope, no such class existed.
If a university created a course regarding value provided to an employer, starting a business, investing or using this wonderful tool called the Internet to make money, I guarantee attendance would be high. Students would be engaged. This would create intrigue and get students excited about the future.
Most students spruce up their resumes and begin applying for jobs in the fields they want to work in once graduation rolls around. College career counselors tell you to tailor your resume to the positions you want. But, they don't tell you that creating relationships with people in your field is more valuable than a resume.
With platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and the like, you can now connect with people in your desired industry. Don't forget about in-person networking as well. Sometimes, people just rely on social media to network, but face-to-face relationships will always be the best way.
I was never told this until I entered the workforce. I learned that most jobs are filled this way. In addition, if you're looking to start a business or are looking for business partners, you're going to have to network. If students were informed of this prior to graduation and got the opportunity to go to workshops and practice their communication and networking skills, they'd be much better suited for jobs, not to mention more well-rounded.
3. Sales 101
Sales gets a bad rap, and I don't understand why. If you told your friends and family you wanted to pursue a sales career upon graduation, you'd probably get some form of pushback.
Maybe it's because too many people associate sales with a sleazy car dealer, or some person trying to pressure you into buying his or her product so that he or she can make a commission. Well, I have news for you: There are sleazy people in every profession.
In addition, we are all salespeople. Yes, you reading this right now: You are a salesman or saleswoman.
When you go in for a job interview, you are selling yourself to a potential employer. When you approach your boss with an idea, you must sell him or her the plan.
When you see a cute guy or girl at the bar, you must sell him or her on why he or she should give you his or her phone number. When you are out and about with your friends, you must sell them on why you all should get dinner at one restaurant versus another.
We all sell. We all sell all the time. It's time to start learning the skills necessary for students to be better equipped at selling a service, a product, themselves or an idea.
Sales isn't sleazy. It's part of our everyday lives, whether we realize it or not. It's time to start educating students as such.
I can say with 100 percent certainty that if my alma mater had offered courses pertaining to the three topics I mentioned above, I would have been much better suited to enter the "real world."