If you ever come across a handbook for adult life, could you let me know where I can get a copy? Otherwise, how else are our youths supposed to know that they should have more money coming in than going out, or that they’re not supposed to be wearing a psychedelic orange sweater to a job interview?
In search of the answer to the ‘handbook for adult life’, I came across a Quora thread on ‘What are some of the most underrated skills learnt during college that come in handy in adulthood?’. Below are some skills everyone should have. I cannot promise that these are every needed skill there is out there, but these should put you on a good start.
Learn to make friends in any environment
The skill to make friends in any environment is especially important and should be developed during your time at university. Once you leave university, the environment would be different and you may find that it is not that easy to forge close friendships.
A simple tactic would be to simply spend more time with people you would like to be friends with. Called the ‘mere exposure effect’, it shows how we tend to like things and people we are familiar with. And if you are up to it, try ‘self-disclosure’ where you reveal a piece of not-known information about yourself to another. Again, familiarity is at work here.
Manage your time
Post-student life will be the time when you will find yourself juggling multiple priorities. Time management skills are necessary unless you want to feel eternally frazzled.
The most important time management lesson would be that you should stick with one task at a time because research suggests that multitasking makes us less efficient and more prone to errors. Also, limit the time that you work on something. Try reducing your weekly work hours as research suggests that working more than 40 hours a week is counter-productive.
Wake up on time
In uni, rolling out of bed 10 minutes before class starts and showing up late because you stopped to get that iced coffee is forgivable. In the professional world, not so much. Not even if you’re a project-based professional.
Instead, if you find yourself constantly having to drag yourself out of bed for that early morning meeting, put together a strategy to get up and out the door with ample time to spare.
Speak a second language
Or if you are the typical Malaysian, learn a third language, or two more. Learning another language opens the mind to an entirely new way of thinking. With the acquisition of another language, preferably foreign, you will notice and appreciate the parts of the world you have never experienced before.
Stick to a budget
We do not expect you to know how to balance a chequebook or fill out the annual tax form. But sticking to a budget means making sure that there is more coming in than going out. It means adhering to a budget. Anticipate major expenses like replacing the battery of your (would-be) car or even setting aside an emergency fund in case an unexpected happens. That would be one less thing to worry about in life.
Youths need the right mix of skills to thrive. With increased access to information, memorising facts is less important today than in the past.
Although technical skills remain important, youths need to become lifelong learners and build strong soft skills in the areas of creativity, communication, and leadership. Only through this can we then have a thoughtful, productive, and engaged workforce of tomorrow.
This article was written in conjunction with World Youth Skills Day, which is celebrated annually on 15 July. The day helps in disseminating awareness of the importance of skills in getting good work opportunities. The theme for this year is ‘Transforming Youth Skills for the Future’.