Not only will these four skills help you make the transition from student to grown-up, but they will make you a better employee, entrepreneur, friend and all around all-star. Don’t be intimidated; all it takes is some planning, research and even a free app or two to get you further down the path to success.
Take Control of Your Finances
No more outrageously priced textbooks and parking tickets! Hooray! But according to a report from the Institute for College Access and Success, the national average student loan debt has reached $28,400. Meal plans, parent-funded credit cards and sleep deprivation have no doubt gotten you out of the habit of responsible money management. Now is the time to educate yourself to avoid defaulting on your loans, ruining your credit, and setting a bad precedent for the rest of your life.
Sit down and make a list of all your loans. Include their contact info, the loan balance and interest rate. FinAid has a simple checklist for keeping all the important info at your fingertips. Set up calendar notifications and automatic deposits — whatever you have to do so you don’t miss a payment and hurt your credit.
Master the Art of Moving
Friends flake out, U-Haul trucks are horrifying to drive, and Ikea furniture is out to get you: Welcome to being an adult. Moving into your first place will be a lot different than moving into the dorms.
Master the art of moving efficiently and you’ll save yourself, and your friends, a lot of headache and frustration. Preparation is key here; the longer you wait to start organizing and packing, the long it will take you to get settled into your new place. And don’t forget to keep helpers hydrated and fed so everyone is in a good mood.
Dish.com has a helpful list of expectations vs. reality when moving to a new city that will help you avoid common pitfalls and misconceptions of your first big solo move. And PopSugar features great moving hacks that help you stay organized, sane and on budget (did you know you can get free moving boxes off of Craigslist? Or that moving expenses are sometimes tax-deductible?).
Speaking Spanish Basics
Did you take years of Spanish classes and are now incapable of carrying on a conversation beyond your first name and the location of the nearest cold beverage or bathroom? We understand. It takes an adult about five years of consistent assimilation to become fluent. That’s just not possible with a full course load, even if you do go to Cabo for every spring break.
That’s why Workplace Spanish Classes are becoming more popular at colleges across the country. They focus on job-specific vocabulary and phrasing, saving employees and corporations time and money. But you don’t have to sign up for a class to get a jump on the job market and build a lifelong skill. Try labeling all the things you use on a daily basis with its name in Spanish written on a Post-It. There are also fantastic apps for your phone or tablet to help you learn Spanish — check out this list from FluentU.
But the best thing you can do to improve your Spanish is to speak it. Be on the lookout for people who speak Spanish and tell them you want to practice. Don’t focus on the words you don’t know or can’t remember; just let it flow, and don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself.
Nail the Job Interview
Now is the time to practice the interview skills that will be valuable for the rest of your career. Three Cs to remember here: calm, confident and concise. These traits will help you achieve success in any circumstance.
Look the part with simple, professional clothes. A complicated, flashy outfit communicates your personality, not your professionality. Even artists let their work speak for themselves by dressing in all black. Now this is not to say that your clothes aren’t important. Rich fabrics and sharp tailoring communicate self-confidence and pride in your appearance.
Act the part by listening actively and keeping your responses short and specific. Don’t try to give them your whole life story. Interviewers are more likely to remember you based on one or two memorable responses rather than a whole novel. Be sure to have good questions of your own to ask about the position and the company to show you’re interested in more than just a paycheck — we like these nine questions from Monster.