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This summer thousands of students will walk the stage at their graduation ceremony to receive their degree. It’s a life defining moment. After the years of hard work, stress and uncertainty you have made it. During the ceremony a keynote speaker will praise graduates for completing their education. There is talk of successful careers, and making your mark on the world. I heard a speech like this at my ceremony. The one thing the speaker didn’t mention was the importance of being a life long learner. The work place that these distinguish speakers entered decades ago has changed beyond recognition. Companies recruit talent over qualifications and career progression as we understand it know longer exists.

University encourages you to read pointless books and attend lectures that you won’t remember. The most valuable part of university is the social experience. Getting drunk, doing ridiculous things and having short intense relationships. The interpersonal skills that you develop doing these things are valuable in the work place. That drunken conversation makes a much more interesting story then what you learned in your literature seminar. If your looking for jobs you should concentrate on your unique selling point. People have now become branded.

This blog will explore 5 important things that university didn’t teach you.

How to manage relationships

Roosevelt said that in order to be successful you must know how to get along with people. This couldn’t be more true. People like to be around someone who is easy to get on with. This is something that recruiters consider before offering someone a job. Are you going to fit into the company culture? Maintaining positive relationships with colleagues is like being in a polygamy marriage. You have to get to know everyone on a personal and professional level. You need to be aware of their history, talents, dislikes and most importantly how they like to work. For example, my manager likes detail but my deputy chief executive likes to hear the bare essentials. If you are pitching an idea you need to know how to communicate it to different people. Like all relationships sometimes they decline. You will disagree and in extreme cases stop talking to each other. The main thing to remember is that relationships can always be rescued.

How to manage your career

The modern career consists of two things: your day job and your personal projects. It can be hard to feel fulfilled in a job, especially when you might be in a role that doesn’t suit you. When you first start working everything is exciting- having a telephone with my name on it excited me. As time passes your role may start to change or you might become bored. This is usually a sign that you need to move on. This could be going for a promotion or trying a different sector/role. You shouldn’t stay in the same role forever. You need to keep developing your skills and challenging yourself. That’s the best way to keep work exciting. You should’t be afraid to ask you manager for additional duties (although it’s unlikely you will be paid) or advice on moving on. A good manager will want to develop talent and help you get to where they want to be.

Jobs are constantly under threat. This could be due to organisational restructure, redundancy or you could be sacked (unlikely but still possible) so you need to develop your personal interests and talents. I am passionate about writing and personal development so I continue to develop this outside of work. Working for yourself can bring a sense of fulfilment and happiness. It also allows you to develop skills that you can write about on job application forms. Any future career change will also be easier for you. Most companies want potential candidates to be proactive and show creativity. By pursuing your personal interests you are showing employers that you are dynamic and have the potential to progress.

How to deal with change

Change is inevitable but most people don’t deal with it very well. That’s because it’s not a natural state, humans enjoy habit. We tend to do the same things on a daily basis. This doesn’t reflect what is happening in society. The quality of life that most people have is often dictated by the government. Over the last few years graduate unemployment has continued to rise and it’s becoming harder to find a job. You need to show employers that you can deal with life’s challenges without falling to pieces. At work things often don’t go according to plan. You need to be able to think quickly and find solutions to problems that you haven’t anticipated. In life you might experience family problems or relationship breakdowns. These are horrible things and you should deal with them. The important thing to remember is that you mustn’t allow these things to distract you from your true purpose. Sometimes a dream is all you have. Hold on to that when things get hard.

The importance of personal development

During your years as a student education was supposed to make you a better person. Getting a degree was meant to give you better career prospects and prepare you for life. This is a good start but you need to keep working. When I left university, I realised that I wanted to continue learning. I always think that there is room of self-improvement and continually strive to be a better person. When you start work your self confidence will take a knock. There will be lots of things that you need to learn and your likely to think that your not up to the job. This is normal. Once you become comfortable you might identify areas that you need to work on. Don’t ignore this, ask your manager for additional training. This could be in the form of one to one session, training courses or coaching. You should have an awareness of your personal strengths and weaknesses. Always try to use your strengths at work, you will be more successful and less stressed. Minimize doing work that involves your weaknesses. You don’t have to be good at everything.

At work I take advantage of all of the personal development opportunities. I have attended courses on coaching and leadership. These are good things to put on my cv and develop those much needed communication skills. Remember, the key to success is being able to get on with people. On a personal level, I practice mindfulness and meditation. This helps me to stay calm, focused and motivated. The internet is full of personal development tools so have a look. Being your best self is going to make you a successful person at work and in life.

The benefits of coaching or support groups

I discovered coaching about a year ago. I attended a course with work and we learned about the benefits of coaching. This includes better problem solving and active listening skills and conflict resolution. You can coach someone or you can be coached. If you are being coached the coach will ask you open questions to help you explore an issue that is bothering you. This proactive process will help you find your own solution and decide on a plan of action. This is a good tool to use at work. Alternatively, attending a support group can be beneficial. The years after graduation can be difficult and it’s hard dealing with constant uncertainty. Being in a group of people who have similar goals or worries can really help. I have just started a life club for people who actively pursue their goals. This will help inspire and motivate people to achieve their goals. The best thing about education is having a group that you can always call on with questions or concerns. In order to cope with life, it’s essential that you have a supportive group that can offer advice and hold you accountable to your goals.

Life after university can be a struggle. The hardest thing to deal with is uncertainty. I wish that someone would have told me about the realities of life after university. It’s never easy but I hope these tips can help you navigate the post uni world with more confidence

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Useful Links/ Books

Tiny Budda– This website covers topics such as dealing with change, careers and developing positive habits http://tinybuddha.com/ 

Elite Daily– This website claims to be the voice of Generation Y. You will find interesting articles on love and life. http://elitedaily.com/

How to win friends and influence people- This is a great read for those who want to know more about how get along with people.  How to win friends and influence people

The Happiness Project– This book explores how small changes can increase your happiness and change your life. The happiness project