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These Are the Five Skills I Wish I Learned in CollegeLooking

Angela Martinez
5 min readAug 23, 2019


Four years sounds like an eternity, but in the blink of an eye- my time as an undergraduate flew by. And looking back seven years later, there is very little that I learned during this time that has helped me in my career.

Regardless of where you find yourself, I’m confident we can all agree that the knowledge we received from our undergraduate education was not sufficient in preparing us to be successful in the workplace.

Here are the five skills that would have served us better after graduating.

How to build relationships

Looking back, I’ve rarely thought about the importance of relationships in life while growing up. I don’t only mean making friends and meeting your life partner. Relationships are the core of success in business and the workplace.

Getting students to have meaningful conversations and to learn to disagree with each other in productive ways can lead to better negotiation skills, greater success in job interviews, and a plethora of other wins in their work and personal life.

Beyond the group projects and pair work in class, how much time did you really get learning to build relationships with those around you as a college student?

How to earn money and spend it

Many of us leave college with a ton of student loan debt, and it’s at that point that we realize how little we are prepared to solve our financial problems as adults.

When I first entered college, I’d held only three part-time jobs. I’d spent that money going out with my friends and buying things for college. That was all fine and well until it came time to graduate and find a real job.

I struggled a lot finding a job that paid beyond minimum wage — not because of the economic issues post-2008, or because I didn’t know where to find the — it was more about my money mindset, and not knowing how to go for jobs with higher salaries, or feeling worthy of them.

Skill 3. How to sell my self, not just what I know

This is a fundamental skill whose power I’m only starting to understand.

Foremost, you need to learn how to sell yourself.

I use to live in the clouds, thinking that people would like me, date me, hire me, because I was this sweet, kind, and smart person.


Existing will not get you very far. You have to learn how to sell yourself like a hustler with a bone to pick with the world. This doesn’t mean being obnoxious about how amazing you are, or forcing people to interact with you just because you think you have something valuable to say. No! Stop!

What I mean here is understanding that you are an amazing person who has something important to share with others through effort and creativity. Being tactful and strategic about what you are sharing and how you share it is essential.

An important lesson I have learned from spending my time watching YouTube (besides the fact that I need to stop wasting time on YouTube) is that that random stranger who has 40 followers has a story you can relate to, that can make you feel like you’re not the only person going through whatever it is you’re going through.

You can be that stranger that inspires others, and you don’t need a piece of paper to validate this! Just start sharing who you are and what you have to give to the world.

Skill 4. How to create an online presence

I will cut colleges some slack for falling behind on this one. Unless you’re explicitly majoring or working in a field that is specifically directed for online work, like programming or graphic design, it didn’t really make sense that creating an online presence was important until recently.

People spend most of their time online, however. Whenever I’m on the train, and when my head is not glued to my phone, I take a look around and see everyone else with their faces glued to theirs.

If you need to find someone to fix your toilet, you go to the internet. If you need to get your hair done, you look for the closes salon on yelp or google maps. If you need to get your taxes done, you go online.

Are you starting to see a pattern here??

Yes, this is all pretty obvious, but I don’t think that all adults understand how important it is to be on the internet, even if your business has nothing to do with being online. How will people find you? How can you get people to recommend your services? How will you find new customers to grow your business?

The world of the internet gives us unlimited possibilities! Start using it to your advantage!!!

Skill 5. Learning how to put yourself first

This is by far the most amazing skill I am learning to acquire.

I’m not sure if you realize this, but at least in my school, we were always reminded to be good citizens and help make the world a better place.

Once in a while, I get this publication in the mail from my alma mater, with articles about alumni doing amazing things around the U.S. and the world, and helping improve the lives of others.

Honestly, I’m not there yet. I ain’t got time for that. I’m seriously still struggling to figure out how I can make MY life better.

It doesn’t make much sense to put all your energy into building houses in some obscure part of the world when you don’t have a house of your own, or sacrificing your early income earning years to teach English to people in this or that country for the bare minimum.

And I’m not hating. Props to these people.

But who will be there to rescue you when down the road, perhaps in your late 30s or 40s, you have a breakdown because you never looked inward and prioritized yourself. You just did what you thought the world expected of you as a good citizen.


Please let me know if you can relate. Do you think it would have helped you to learn these skills in college, and is there anything else you wish you had been taught before being thrown into the real world?

Share your thoughts!



Angela Martinez

Digital Marketing Consultant || Writing about marketing, language learning, entrepreneurship, money and life.