You’ve learned a lot in college, including algebra, U.S. history and how to text under your desk. But once you leave your beloved alma mater behind, you may realize there are some very important life lessons that you never learned.
If you want to avoid that terrifying task of entering the real world without many of the skills you need to succeed, take the time to learn these things, before graduation day rolls around.
How to manage your money. So you land a job in a New York public relations agency eight out of college and the company provides you with the option to join its Without a basic understanding of the stock market, which is almost never taught in school, you will be dead in the water.
How to cook. Overprotective parents are not doing their children any favors. Upon graduation they not only don’t know how to slice a tomato, but have no understanding of how to buy groceries or prepare them.
Home repairs. Another area where parents should take responsibility for initially putting that hammer and screwdriver in their kids’ hands and explaining the basics of how to hang a nail on the wall for a painting or remove a screw.
Social skills. The best jobs require social skills, according to recent findings published in the New York Times. As a kid in kindergarten you learned to play well with others. Then, as you moved along in school these skills were replaced by impersonal lecture-style teaching of hard skills, with less peer interaction. In such fields as public relations, the softer skills like client interaction and counseling, motivating colleagues and being a team player are emphasized.
Leadership skills. A good leader’s job is to get work done through people. Skills like how to hire the best people, how to provide mentoring, and then how to get out of the way and let them do their job are skills that unfortunately are often left for on-the-job learning.
How to sew. So, what do you do when you have to sew on a hanging button? Either befriend your local tailor or learn this valuable skill.
How credit works. Just because you were able to secure a credit card doesn’t mean you should use it foolishly and mindlessly. With some credit rates as right as 28%, it could take you years to pay off a $1,000 balance. So, don’t party hardy unless you can pay with cash.
How to find a job. The very basics of how to go about researching and landing a job are skills that unfortunately are often self-taught. Seek out professors and counselors as well as taking advantage of career centers for assistance in this vital area.
It’s been more than 15 years since I opened my own marketing/public relations agency and during that time I have come to realize that an entire new lexicon has developed while I was sleeping, so to speak. I’m a pretty simple gal, so when I come across a new word I immediately Google it. And lately, more often than not, I find myself rolling eyes, shaking my head and then just going back to reading.
The reason I resort to the eye-rolling is that marketing people now, more than ever, feel compelled to invent new words for us to learn and to replace the older, less exciting words. When I hear the younger generation of marketers uttering the newspeak, that’s when I once again find my eyes rolling.
Really? Do we really need a new lexicon to define what we’ve been doing all along? For your ease, and to enable your own eye rolling, is a list of newspeak:
As owner of a New York-based public relations agency who has been working with college-age interns forever, I wanted to go on record saying that it is time that the rest of you realize that they are not slaves, nor in indentured servitude. If they are providing a valuable service, well, then they should be compensated for it, and not just with college credit.
My favorite adage is this: If you pay them then they will come.
When I first went out on my own 15 years ago, and had no paid staff, I quickly discovered the benefits of intern laborers—they work hard, they can accept a lot of responsibility and they should be paid for their work efforts. And from the beginning I decided to pay them an honest hourly wage—even if they were receiving college credit for the internship. I even threw in free lunch just to grab and keep their attention.
So, here’s why I strongly believe that you get what you pay for:
If you pay them they will come. At the beginning I knew I needed cheap labor, though not free. I asked a number of colleagues who like me had tiny start-ups, and to a man/woman they all agreed that I would have better attendance, participation and happier internes if there were paid. They were right.
Mentoring is the key. Since the starting hourly wage and free lunch were still not enough in my opinion, I knew that from the beginning I had to make their internship worthwhile. Therefore I always made sure to provide them with the following:
Credit for having a brain
Valuable opinions. It is important to understand that although these are young people working for you, that they offer valuable insight into the mindset of Generation Z, those born after the millennials—and this can sometimes add an additional dimension that you might not have thought about. Don’t be afraid to ask them for insight.
Internships can lead to jobs. I have often provided invaluable leads and job referrals to my interns and also have served as a valuable reference to them—more valuable in some ways then payment, one does not replace the other.
Foot in the door. Companies that offer unpaid internships often barter that it’s a way for the college student to get a foot in the door. Excuse me, but how is the intern going to pay for the shoe on that foot without a decent hourly wage?
Death knell for college internships. This is what the “other side” is providing as a reason not to pay interns for time worked. Washington is trying to regulate it so that companies that currently take advantage of college kids are penalized for it. Although I myself am not a big believer in Big Brother interfering with my business, this should certainly cause those companies who are abusing college kids to start rethinking their policies.