With tax season among us and graduation season looming upon us, I couldn’t help but let my mind wander and think about all the things my eighteen years of schooling failed to teach me prior to thrusting me into the real world. While I must take some responsibility for not proactively doing something about this, in my defence, millennials do have a lot to show for ourselves: we are more health-conscious, globally aware and environmentally-friendly than ever.
That being said, there have been quite a few hurdles I’ve had to jump over in the past year that I wish school had prepared me better for. This list could be 50+ entries long, but I’ve narrowed it down because let’s be honest – no new grad has time for that; we’re too busy battling the next beast life throws in our way. Without further ado:
1. Managing Money
This is probably the first one that comes to mind for most new graduates. One thing I wish I learned was how the tax system works and how to file my own taxes. Other helpful things to teach would be how to create a personal budget, how to save for things like buying/leading a car or a house, and all the financial add-ons that come with them, understanding credit cards and interest, and even how to invest in stocks. Some finance and accounting courses may have touched upon some of these, but overall, a practical one that was geared towards students who are just starting out with their own pay checks would have been extremely helpful.
2. Workplace Politics
Few people know the intricacies of work politics before actually entering the workforce. This has put many new graduates in uncomfortable positions which may include things like:
- Having trouble saying no to managers and other colleagues
- Taking on more work than you can handle because you want to ‘prove yourself’
- Doing other people’s work
- Getting swept into workplace drama
- Working tirelessly and not getting promoted;
…among other things. There is a recipe to conducting yourself properly in the workplace, and without proper guidance and warning beforehand, you could find yourself lost in the sauce pretty easily.
3. Proper Business Etiquette
If you were heavily involved in business extracurricular activities and networking, you may have learned a bunch of these from professors and mentors. But things like composing emails, business card etiquette, handshakes, proper language, and even listening skills would have been key to learn in school. Good manners will never die in my books.
4. Mental Health
This may be changing or may have already changed, but growing up, we were never taught anything about mental health in school. We were taught about the reproductive system and drugs, but things like depression, anxiety, and all sorts of other common mental health issues were not talked about often. Where there is awareness, there is the possibility of change, for the better.
5. How to Stitch
…simply so that we don’t have to get our moms or grandmas to stitch the hole in our sweaters.