There's plenty left to learn after university—here are our top life lessons.
If you are among the lucky crop of this year's graduates, you may be under the impression that most of your learning days are behind you. While it's true that you may be done studying ancient texts or debating the merits of various economic theories, there's plenty left to learn in the working world—we know because we've been there!
Here are a few lessons we've learned which we wish we knew when we were starting out:
1. Every employer you meet wants to hire you
This is something you won't really understand until you first experience the responsibility of hiring a new employee yourself. Looking through applications is not fun, and when you see a promising one, you get excited. You hope this candidate is The One—because then you don't have to keep looking.
Every employer wants to find the perfect employee, and if they're talking to you, they want it to be you. All you have to do is prove them right.
2. Trust Capital is the greatest thing you can earn
Everyone is late, or has to leave early, or can't get a project done by deadline every once in a while due to circumstances beyond their control. But if you are constantly five minutes late because you "missed the train" or keep finding other reasons to not put in your best effort at work, your employer (and everyone else) will start to see you as unreliable.
On the flipside, if you always make your best effort and can be relied on 99 per cent of the time, people are much more likely to forgive the one per cent when something really does just come up. It's called trust capital, and it's worth building it and saving it for emergencies when you really need it, such as when you're late because you had to take your flatmate to A&E, or you need to leave work early because your mother is having surgery. Those are the things you really want to be there for—not having a lie in because you had too many pints the night before.
3. Unexpected costs will come up—prepare for them
Whether it's urgent repairs on your car, a crashed laptop which needs to be replaced so you can work, or a last-minute plane ticket home to visit a sick relative, large and unexpected costs will come up which can't be avoided. It's hard to plan for these when you are still paying off student loans, but the earlier you get started on a ‘contingency' fund, the better.
4. Eating right is worth it
It's true that good food often costs a bit more and takes a bit more effort. But the value which eating right adds to your life is worth it. And while we're on about it: get some exercise and a decent amount of sleep, okay? It's worth the effort to take care of your body.
5. The old adage "look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves" is true
Annoyingly, this is actually good advice. If you are looking at repaying student loans while wondering how you will ever manage to afford things such as a nice place to live, a car, and one day—perhaps—a family, you do need to think first about cutting back on big expenses and streamlining your debt to reduce interest payments. But after that, watching your small spending and cutting back on indulgences really makes a difference.
Trimming your after-work pints from three to two may not seem like much, but if each pint is a fiver and you go out twice a week, you'll be saving yourself £40 per month, £480 per year… If you can find a few ways to make these cutbacks (think: pack a lunch, make your own coffee, etc.), the savings will add up—quickly.
6. You have to play the game
Workplace politics, office dynamics, call it what you will—you will need to learn how to read work situations and navigate within them.
The level to which you will have to do this depends entirely on your workplace, but the sad truth is that you can't get away from it. No matter what your job, you will likely have someone working over you, someone working with you, and someone working under you. Each of those relationships is different, and you will need to learn how to handle each of them without upsetting anybody. Be tactful and think before you speak—even casual comments can have serious repercussions in an office environment, and nobody likes the person who just can't seem to get the social cues.
Learning to navigate the working world after the bubble of university can be a bit daunting, but keep our six tips in mind and you'll be set to get started on the right foot.
Image Credit: Maria Molinero