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12 things they don't teach you in college

By Abhijit Nimgaonkar
Last updated on: April 18, 2016 10:03 IST
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Before you graduate from college and get started with your career, here are a few things you must know.

At some point in life, most likely during our career, we come to realise that we have been making use of less and less of what we learned in college and are now more open to develop new skills that are vital to our success.

Here are a few soft skills that we pick up after our college life, which stay with us through our career and beyond.

1. Set and honour boundaries

In this manner, you are responsible for your actions and decisions.

As and when you stick to your boundaries, you become a responsible and reliable go-to person.

You can't go after everything, so identify your strengths, weaknesses and passions to decide what is important for you.

Then prioritise and put your heart and soul into those areas.

This way, you will deliver value the way it's most impactful to others and to you.

If you go for every opportunity, you end up chasing everyone else's dreams but your own.

2. Find a mentor, advisor..

...someone you can trust and knows you.

Engage them to help you understand opportunities and growth paths for yourself.

Understand the culture of the organisation, ensure your fit with it and plan how you will reinforce it.

3. Feedback, feedback, feedback!

Others have the best view of you, so be humble and seek feedback on everything you do. There is no better way to grow.

Spend more time listening and understanding than talking. If you are listening 90 percent of the time with the person in question, that means you are left with 10 percent of the time to talk.

Spend 90 percent of that 10 percent asking questions and that will give you much insight and open up a world of awareness for you.

4. You are answerable for your actions and decisions and need to own them

Take pride in your work, think outside the box, do the work well and learn from mistakes.

The consequences of every action and decision are your responsibility and the sooner we understand that, the more pride we can take in our ownership and individuality.

5. It's okay to be lost and miserable sometimes

As long as you have the inner strength to grow out of the phase; it's okay to fail.

If you learn from every wrong decision, you emerge a winner.

Try to develop the strength to get up every time you fall. Once you become an expert in that area, you will be an inch closer to success.

6. Always to try to surprise your manager (in a good way)

Go beyond what was asked for, bring your own ideas into the mix and ensure that the finished product will delight by checking along the way.

Above all, do very high-quality work, which makes the manager's job far easier and starts preparing you for the next level.

Remember you need to make the most of their experience and learn from their advice. You need to schedule one-on-one time with them to ensure they are in the know of your progress and that you are moving in the right direction.

7. Understand your limits well and be comfortable in your own skin

You don't need to venture out of your comfort zone at every opportunity and make yourself miserable.

As long as you push yourself as per your strengths, it's okay.

On the other hand, also identify areas where you want to grow and commit to tasks that challenge you, make your learn and thereby grow. Having said that, your focus needs to be on your strengths and developing an area of expertise that excites you. Go for it!

8. The ability to appreciate

As you move out of college, you gradually learn to recognise minor misunderstandings for what they are, and begin to take notice of the good in others and their intentions.

The ability to sincerely express appreciation helps build and mend relationships, personal or professional.

In most organisations, it's the power of the team that creates success for everyone, so you don't have to win at someone else's cost.

In the process, you grow to become someone whom people can depend on.

Focus on the bigger picture -- perform to the best of your ability, be accountable, honour commitments and meet deadlines.

9. Adjust your perspective to a longer time horizon.

Growth takes time. If the process was faster, it wouldn't have helped us develop.

There are no shortcuts to wisdom. Enjoy the process and learn from it. Set realistic goals and work toward them a step at a time.

Don't forget to establish quality of life metrics for yourself and assess your well-being.

Your mental and physical health has to be on the top of your priority list.

You are the best judge of the rest, travel, hobbies outside work and sleep you require for your well-being.

10. Be adaptable to change

The more flexible you become, the more you grow.

Also, the more you listen to others and accept their opinions as well, the more you develop your ideas -- and yourself.

In the world of ideas, two and two usually make far more than four.

On your own, you are a meagre 'one'.

Make the most of the opportunity at hand.

We need to understand that a new door can also lead to better prospects. Sometimes a challenge is all you need to understand your mettle.

11. Be responsible for your finances

It's crucial to make your own financial decisions and be responsible for your finances.

College doesn't teach this life skill.

Moreover, it isn't taught in traditional education that it's okay to earn money through freelancing or any unconventional career options.

You need to think beyond the rat race of 9-to-5 jobs as a mentally and financially independent individual.

12. Learning is an investment

Investing in learning and education never fails, whether done formally or one one's personal initiative.

Witness how Steve Jobs' accidentally attending courses on calligraphy contributed to Apple's famous friendly fonts.

You never stop learning or making use of the cumulative awareness of subjects and skills.

The author Abhijit Nimgaonkar is India CEC's Head, ZS Associates, a global consulting firm.

Lead image used for representational purposes only. Image: Jayanta Shaw/Reuters

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