You came to university thinking it would change you forever. You thought you’d say hello to a smarter, more experienced, more charming version of you. However, you’re in year 2 and feel that the only skill you’ve acquired is to assimilate copious volumes of seemingly irrelevant lecture notes? You’re probably a little disillusioned about what most commencement speeches claim, “You can change the world, you can become anything you want to be”. Don’t despair. With some effort you can become the fit, charming working professional with an understated panache and sense of joie de vivre.
These are the 5 skills you need to learn in university (and how to use them to impress the opposite sex ):
1. Learn to Read:
Reading opens the mind and exposes the reader to different ideas, thoughts and times. The greatest ideas around which civilizations, countries and cultures are built have been distilled into books.
2. Learn a New Language:
Most universities encourage multilingualism through language modules, cultural immersion programmes and student exchange programmes. Learning a language has several benefits. Researchers in York University, Toronto found that students who have studied a foreign language tend to perform better in standardized tests in subjects like math, reading and vocabulary.
Speaking a foreign language enhances employability and improves higher education opportunities. The Economist also points outs that while, according to one optimistic estimate, half the world’s people might speak English by 2050, “that still leaves billions who will not, and billions of others who remain happier (and more willing to spend money) in their own language”.
One of the primary components of university is inter- gender relations. What better way to impress the opposite sex than to quote some Nietzsche or order your Cabernet Sauvignon in French?
3. Learn a Sport:
At least some form of regular exercise: Your future self will thank you if you take out an hour or so every day to get some exercise. There are so many reasons to play sports in university co-curricular activities, inter university games and most importantly, enhanced levels of fitness and buffness.
Playing a sport is also a great way to make friends during work life. Socializing and forging new friendships becomes progressively harder as our social circles shrink to our day to day professional circles. Playing a sport will give you plenty of opportunities to meet like minded individuals and forge friendships throughout your life.
Back to the topic of inter gender relations. You’re probably not a superficial person but there’s no harm in having that beach body. Put that together with going on exchange and you have a recipe for being the mysterious, handsome stranger.
4. Networking and Communication Skills:
Prior to university, you were probably accustomed to being treated like a student who was still in the learning phase of life. University is strange intermediary stage between student life and professional life. Suddenly, you will find employers keen on talking to you and offering you internships. This is because learning organizations are continuously looking for young blood to can bring energy and new skills to the table.
It’s important to keep meeting young professionals and building friendships with them based on reciprocity. Enabling others by offering your help and services is a great way of doing this.
In Keith Ferrazzi’s book, “Never Eat Alone”, he highlights that helping others and is the best way to ensure that whenever you need help, there will be people willing to help you. I recently went for an MBA event to INSEAD and one of the things I realized is how easy it is get to know members of the opposite sex in a “professional” setting. It also lets you showcase your achievements and goals and pay compliments in a completely innocuous way. Getting a number has never been easier, to keep in touch for future events of course.
5. Learn some Hard Skills:
Although university is a phase where you can still take your time and figure out what you want to do in life, you should invest some time in acquiring some hard skills. Finding a subject you’re passionate about is difficult given the limited exposure and real life experience you have. However, investing effort in mastering some of the hard skills in your major will help you find that passion faster.Even if it takes you longer than four years to find it, picking up some technical skills during university can really give you an edge in the job market.I spent a large part of my university life figuring out what my passion is and what my hard skills are. I was very sure I didn’t want to write software for a living. I’ve been quite fickle with my passions. I’ve explored and abandoned several areas such as banking, finance, sales and consulting.
I was done with my second year at University and I still didn’t have the faintest idea of what my hard skills were. However, in my third year things changed. I was lucky enough to be referred for an engineering role at a technology startup. My time spent there was the most exhilarating professional experience I’ve ever had.
I spent each day meeting clients, building the product and evenings drinking beer with my colleagues and employees from different startups. The startup environment was very stimulating. I learnt as much as I could about how tech startups worked. I tried to hone my core engineering skills by working in software development roles in a bank, an European university, a technical publishing company and other small freelance projects. I like to think that the whole process of finding the hard skill and then honing it is passion.
Even if you can’t mould your hard skills into a passion, honing them to a point where you can call yourself a specialist is a great advantage. Passion isn’t always obvious,vocations involving steep learning curves are seldom easy to feel passionate about without sufficient exposure. So keep exploring and challenging yourself, and with a little hard work and luck, you’ll find yours.
I’ve been told that there’s nothing more attractive than a well spoken, driven, articulate and fit individual. You have the tools now, it’s time to stop scrolling your news feed and pick up that tennis racket.