What They Didn’t Teach You

Tragedy has struck our household. The Netherlands have lost the World Cup. So close. So very close. Well, we put up a good fight. There’s always 2014!

So, I’ve been at work for about 3-4 months now and I’ve submitted my fair share of reports and research. I remember I submitted a research report and my boss loved it. Next came the market plan and boy did that one bomb with the boss! He asked me if I had ever written a marketing plan before.

Ouch. As a marketing graduate, I have written a marketing plan for almost every single class I have ever taken and I have never received any grade below an A on all of them!

My boss and I started talking about, well, how useless university really is. He told me exactly what he didn’t like about my reports and almost every point was something I was taught to do in my classes. So I spent $30 000 on education that sets me back in my career… Go figure.

To help you along in your education and your career, I’ve composed a little list of things they never taught us at university.

Co-op is a bigger deal than they lead on. Co-op at my university is just an option. Very few people take it. When I looked at the co-op option, I just saw it as a waste of time because I’d have to spend an extra semester in school – my worst nightmare! Looking back, most people agree that not doing co-op was a BIG mistake. What better education could you possibly receive than real world experience? You can read as many textbooks as you want, and learn a million theories but nothing will prepare you better for the work world than real life experience.

The majority of things you learn will be completely irrelevant by the time you graduate. I remember reading in a newspaper that everything computer science students learn in first year is no longer relevant by the time they graduate. Looking at Thomas Moore’s law, it states that every year technology doubles and prices are cut in half. That’s why DVD players originally sold for $200 and are now $30 (Stupid DVDs made my Little Mermaid VHS useless!) This happens to almost all university degrees. Make sure you stay up-to-date on everything you learn and try to stay ahead of the curve.

Networking is what keeps you alive. As a commerce student, networking is talked about a lot but I don’t think anybody really understands the importance. Over 80% of jobs are never posted anywhere; they’re merely filled by using connections. I was lucky, and that’s how I got this job. My lunch buddy, Jay, worked at a brokerage firm at the age of 16. He then worked his way up through the bank and kept ties with his old manager. Because of Jay’s networking, his manager has offered him a job, and he will be returning to be a broker (cha-ching $$) in a few years. Make sure you look at every single opportunity as a chance to network and build future contacts.

There’s nothing wrong with ego! I’ve always taken pride in my own work and I expect other people to notice. Do you have any idea how much crud gets thrown on your boss’s desk? On my second week, my boss taught me to put my name, date, and title on everything I ever submitted to make sure he’ll know who submitted the good work.

In the real work world, nobody really notices these things. I remember when I went to a spa and the pedicurist said to me:

“Nobody is going to toot your horn for you, so toot your own damn horn!”

It’s true! If you did a good job, take credit for it but remember to give credit where credit is due. So, remember to take pride in your work, but to keep your ego in check.

Professors aren’t tough, bosses are. When you fail in school, you can always re-take something or beg for mercy. You fail at work, you’re fired (make sure you read that with the Donald Trump voice in your head). Also, never blame your failure on somebody else, especially your parents. It’s your own fault and nobody else’s. Sorry.

Set your own goals and expectations. I remember a study done quite a while ago by an Ivy League school which showed that students who set goals and wrote them down were more likely to achieve them. One thing to keep in mind is to make sure your goals are realistic. When you graduate, I doubt you’ll get the exact job you want, and you will make under $50k. Goals take time! Life isn’t like TV. People do eventually have to leave the coffee shop and go to work. Hmm… maybe I should become a restaurant critic. Then I could stay there all day!!

There really is no way around group work. I thought everybody knew this but apparently it was only my department that forces us to do 90% of our work in groups. Everything you do in the office will rely on other people. Group work teaches you some great skills and brings out your natural talents; I’ve discovered I’m a great leader! Maybe you’re a good researcher or an amazing writer. Any of those qualities are great to list on your resume. Just make sure never to be the slacking mooch of the group.

• NEVER break the printer! And if you do, don’t try to fix it yourself. Seriously. We have one printer for 11 people on my floor. Someone breaks it, we’re all screwed. Plus, I’m pretty sure somebody might attempt to break you in return.

You may think school has separated the winners from losers, but life hasn’t. Make sure you set yourself apart from the pack.

Next week my intern, Nicole, and I will be doing a collaborative blog where she asks me questions about university. If you have any questions you would like to ask or are a university student and have some wisdom you would like to impart, post a message below or email me at andrea@careeroptionsmagazine.com.

3 Responses to “What They Didn’t Teach You”

  1. Mike

    “The majority of things you learn will be completely irrelevant by the time you graduate.”

    I would disagree with that.

    Everything I learned in the first year of my CS degree to the last year is knowledge that I continue to use to this very day.

    Maybe your statement is applicable to certain degrees or certain people, but it’s definitely not in my case.

  2. Anon

    In response to the above comment, I think the point trying to be made is that technology and standards around us are evolving so quickly that it is important to keep up to date in order for your skills to remain useful.

    The statement (saying) is not to be interpreted literally, but it is to gain a sense of how quickly things around us are changing.

    In all fields, the skills taught in university are invaluable, but may render irrelevant if the individual does not keep up to date with furthering their knowledge and keeping up to date!


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