7 courses that will help you in the real world

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Education is invaluable because it teaches you so much. However, it is expensive and involved, so not everyone has the funds and time to earn one degree or several. Some people already have the credentials, but they’re lacking in some skills. Plus, not every course you take in college translates to the proverbial real world, so you  might have missed out on some important classes. In the interest of saving you time, money and research, we thought we’d make a list of seven subjects everyone should take courses in at some point in their lives.

Look at your local community colleges, universities, training institutes and workshops to see what’s available to you. You can also check online webinars or even check out materials from your local library. We’re not talking about anything bizarre here, so you shouldn’t have a hard time finding a course that fits your budget, skill level and schedule.

With that in mind, we suggest everyone take courses in these subjects:

Accounting
Money matters. Whether or not you earn a satisfactory salary or you’re barely making ends meet, you’re dealing with money. You have bills to pay and things to buy. Yet, a surprising amount of people know how to handle money. Come tax season, they throw all their documents at a financial specialist, hope they don’t owe any money and never understand their financial situation.

  • On a personal level, you need to know your credit score, budget and other related financial matters. Remember, employers check credit scores during the hiring process.
  • How can you accept a job offer if you don’t know that the salary will cover your living expenses?
  • In most industries, once you reach a certain level (such as a managerial role), you have some budget issues to deal with. Covering your team’s costs, saving the company money and handling raises aren’t as simple as you might think.

Technology
Every professional today needs to feel comfortable using a variety of technology. Understanding e-mail and online browsing are expected skills is most professions. But are you confident in your skills with word processors, spreadsheets, presentations and other software? Are you proficient on both PCs and Macs? How much HTML can you write or understand? Do you know how to do more on Facebook and Twitter than just log on?

Identify your skill level and then identify areas of improvement. Some people might never need to understand HTML, but they will use PowerPoint every day, so look at what others in your industry or workplace are doing. Not only will you gain knowledge that could make your daily tasks easier and less mysterious, but you’ll more confident if you find yourself searching for a job or angling for a promotion. You won’t have to rush to learn that skill just to catch up with everyone else.

Public speaking
One of those oft-quoted statistics that I’ve never seen supported is that public speaking consistently ranks as the number one fear of most people—even ahead of death. I don’t know if it’s actually true, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it were. Why? Because the world can be divided into people who like giving public speeches and those who don’t. Some people need three types of medication just to keep from passing out before an audience consisting of three people. If you can learn how to calm your nerves and give a speech or presentation, your life will be much easier. It might sound silly but it’s true. Even if your job description doesn’t involve giving speeches, you’ll find yourself presenting to a group of people someday—mark my words. It just happens. And if you’re an Anxious Annie, you’ll dread that moment from the time you find out. It will drive you mad. When public speaking becomes second nature, or at least isn’t a daunting task, you’ll realize how much time you’ve wasted fretting over nothing!

Writing
How much time you spend sending e-mails? These messages count as business communication, though few people realize it. If ur messages lack punctuation AND DISREGARD STANDARD WRITING guidelines no 1 will take u srsly!!111 In an era where we can exchange e-mails with people for months without ever meeting them in person, your writing skills are often the first and most important judge of your talents or professionalism. Plus, spend enough time in the working world and you’ll realize many people have no writing skills. I’m not saying they can’t write like Hemingway—I mean they just don’t have the training or skills to write effectively, which means people who can write stand out for all the right reasons.

Marketing
Corporate and nonprofit organizations alike are concerned with brand management and getting their messages to the world. Regardless of your industry and specific position, employers like for everyone to stay on message and have the same goal. A marketing course can give you some insight into how the leadership at the company is thinking. Not only will it help you understand what’s going on, it will enable you to approach your job in a way that might get you noticed or at least appreciated.

Sales
Earlier I said the world can be divided into people who are public speakers and those who are not. I’d also be willing to divide the population into salespeople and non-salespeople. I was not blessed with the innate ability to be a salesperson and am in awe of the people who are. However, I learned more than I expected from courses that integrated sales techniques into the curriculum, even if only to show us that these skills exist. The interpersonal and persuasive skills teach you to relate to people on an individual level, which is important in any job—even if you’re sitting at a desk all day. At the very least you’ll learn how to detect someone who is trying to schmooze you.

Management
Not all managers know how to manage. If you haven’t learned this by now, trust me, you will. People who are great at their job and know what they’re doing are rewarded with promotions. Problems arise when these people are promoted to a level where they have direct reports. If they have no clue how to delegate responsibility or give tough love every once  in a while, they’re not doing their jobs. Don’t be that person. Learn the ins and outs of managing, even if you’re not close to that role yet, because you want to be prepared when the day comes. Worst case scenario: you can pick up the slack when your incompetent boss doesn’t deliver.

39 Comments
  1. This article is disgracefully full of grammatical errors!!! Shame on the editor for having approved this and for the author for having written this in the first place. Though the content itself is relevant and worthy, the errors completely distract from the entire article; I couldn’t even finish reading it without feeling compelled to write this comment. The author was right when he listed “writing” as one of the courses needed to help in the real world; he should take his own advice. I fear the editor, if there was one, probably caught many more mistakes in this article before it was published, which is truly a sad commentary on the current state of English grammar in America today.

    • All of you missed the point on the paragraph on “Writing” The author’s whole point was to show how the lack of writing skills effects the reader. It did just that to all of you.
      If you got frustrated, imagine a business or corporation? His point was well made. He is showing what the lack of skills looks like. Read again?

      • “effects” is a noun and you are using it as a verb; it should be “AFFECTS”! –did all of you sleep through school?

  2. Someone needs to do their research – an accounting course will not help you with personal finances unless it is specifically a tax course. A simple math course or a personal finance class would be more useful.

  3. Missing from your list are: 1) A foreign language 2) World and American Affairs.
    Now your list is complete.
    Thank You

    • I would also add courses in psychology, sociology, world religion and global affairs. Confining ourselves to just American affairs and politics were not learning about the world around us, and we are very much a global market and society.

  4. Perhaps a course in proofreading as well? If you’re going to write about how well you should write, you should write it well!

  5. Ummm? Didn’t you get that the author was making a point, dp? The grammatical errors were intentional… “If ur messages lack punctuation AND DISREGARD STANDARD WRITING guidelines no 1 will take u srsly!!111″ The point is that there is a growing number of people who actually communicate like this, especially those who will soon enter the work force. It is perfectly appropriate to intentionally butcher grammar and standard writing guidelines in text messages and on social networking sights, but the author was pointing out that getting into the habit can hinder your chances of success. The sentence itself is a “commentary on the current state of English grammar in America today.” If you read the rest of the article, it is conversational, but well edited and concise. Maybe you and Gail Meeker should think twice about vehemently criticizing both the author and the editor just because you didn’t get the joke.

    • Wow! There seem to be a lot of very serious minded individuals that are so quick to point out what “seems” to be an incorrect sentence. With intentional misspelling and grammar mistakes. Do you people ever have smiles? Can you not see the joke in it all? Especially considering the context of the article. The world needs more smiles and jokes and not this so serious attitude of, “I’m perfect in my diction and you all “s**k”. I have been guilty of the same and now I am spending my time trying to get rid of those frown lines. lol Lighten up people. Maybe some time outside would improve those disputations and not so much time criticizing others. Just a thought.

  6. Another dumb, mundane “regurgitation” of hundreds of duplicate articles, albeit this one had me laughing at ( its ) horrendous spelling and overall composition……….( Anthony, you need more than a remedial course in English Grammar and Writing ) -

  7. Maybe you like me need to look and some of our interpersoanl skills and how to deal with conflict in the work place, maybe someone does not like you and yet we have no idea how to improve ourselves, I am certainly not an expert but I just thought of this. Are you looking at the whole picture or just yours, maybe your employer can’t afford to promote you or doesn’t think you are ready even though you think you are. I’m trying to improve my attitude after getting fired from a job where I was performing threee positions at once and I could not do it all, in the end I was let go for performance issues, which I did not agree with. You might get some answers on CB they have great articles and suggestions. Good Luck

    • Sandra, your comment is “something else”. I can’t believe you survived in the business world with such poor, hard to understand, writing. What is your problem or are you just trying to “prove a point”? Geez.

  8. People really need to proofread what they write before they publish it on the Internet. It’s kind of ironic, because under the subject of Writing they messed up grammatically by saying, “How much time you spend sending e-mails?” Shouldn’t someone majoring in journalism have taken a grammar and writing class? Just saying (and yes, Lala, I understand that the “no 1 will take u srsly” was proving a point).

  9. hmm; I kinda think they really were missing a few of the more important classes you should take… First off toss out the idea of learning English, grammer, etc. What you should actually take is Chinese because everything is made there so they are going to be the next major employer. Second Screw accounting what you need is Economics Micro and Macro. Third, don’t waste you time with technology as it is always changing. Take something useful like Anatomy/ physiology, General/ organic Chemistry, Classical and modern physics, etc. The idea of sales/ public speaking getting you far, nah people really get tired of listning to people anyway. They will always need smart people vs. sales people. It would be far wiser to take a class in understanding linguistics vs public speaking.

    Have fun,
    Jon

  10. It’s not all interpersonal skills! It’s politics and belonging to the right clique. Thet means going out after work and hitting the bars while leaving your family at home (most have been divorced – gee, I wonder why?).

    If they can’t afford to promote me then why are others less qualified, less educated, less experienced are able to get the promotion I’ve been seeking? Other co-workers have told me that it is because I am a threat to management. Also these same co-workers ask me that when I leave to hire them – that they want to work for me as their boss!

    Here is some advice – If you are constantly getting over-looked, check to make sure it’s nothing you’re doing (behavior). If it’s not you then it’s management! And if it’s management then it is time to move on!

  11. To the person who wrote this article I want to know what your big claim to fame is that make you an expert on 7 courses that will help people in life. For people who write these kind of articles don’t follow what they write and don’t enven know what is good for the selfs. With all the people that are out of work how do you expect everyone to pay for the courses when people are barely paying their bills. The person who wrote this article doesn’t live in the real world. Unless you can write articles that help people find jobs not temp jobs but real jobs with benefits then you can call yourself an expert.

  12. Pingback: Freshers Yaar! » Blog Archive » Is Your Degree Working for You?

  13. Pingback: Freshers Yaar! » Blog Archive » Credit Checks on the Job Hunt: The Debate Continues

  14. Pingback: Is your degree working for you? : The Work Buzz

  15. Really? Another pointless article! What about something for the 50 and older job seeker? You know the ones. Replaced by younger people so they will accept lower pay. Careerbuilder, please attempt to add new fields to your article, so far, you have used the exact same list in every article you’ve posted here, USELESS!!!!! Just as your jobseeker website is! Currently pursuing a Masters in Emergency Management and hopefully will relocate to another country. Please I beg you, NO MORE POINTLESS ARTICLES!

  16. Better courses to learn, which help you and other people are foreign language, traditional Chinese medicine like Acupuncture & Tuina. You’ll enjoy them!!!

  17. Maybe a semester of Judge Judy 101 or Simon Cowell 101, or both, would be helpful to our people skills. We are becoming way too politically correct.

  18. I would like to add a small paragraph to this page. There should be a title now called THE STRONG WILL SURVIVE IN AMERICA, written by all of you who can by means of technology and SINCERE personal courage.

    Everyone who contributed to by sharing their own input should be contacted for a meeting from which a success theory would be written and/or expanded. In sum, these articles remind me of what I went through, and, I am sure such new concep/theoryt will (SRSLY) prove so useful to many.

    Ernesto
    Monday, 3/14/11

  19. First, there can be no technology or understanding of it without coursework in Math-and I should say beyond calculus.

    Second, why should any person accept advice from anyone who cannot write standard English? That is, unless they are looking for employment in China, and China of course would require math unless one is content with a career making fortune cookies.

    • Maybe the article was outsourced and written by someone in China or India? Everything else seems to be outsourced these days, why not these types of articles? Easy to do the research and throw it all together.

  20. I think managers of today need to be taught courses on how to handle people with diverse cultures, mainly how to be a better communicator. I had a stupidvisor who just didn’t know how to recognize people with disabilities and veterans- what’s more insulting they earn a three figure paychek what are these new breed of managers learning in school?? is there a course on how to earn a paycheck for free?

  21. People really have too much free time to comment about the article. Try to read it with a smile, if it helps you then good, if it does not, then do not follow the directions and seek for another way. It is just an opinion, not a fact!!!

    • Problem is too many people will take it as fact, and waste their time and money learning things that they don’t need to.
      And you must also have too much free time as you also commented.
      Also the writing is a disgrace and that is a huge problem. People take it seriously because it’s on the internet and it shows Americans at their worst, which does not do our reputation any good when people from other countries read it. And for those of you who say they don’t, they do. My daughter takes French and German and finds sites to help improve her reading comprehension. People from other countries considering emigrating to the US look to these types of articles as guides for what they should know. And so the author is making the US look bad to the rest of the world, and to other Americans.

  22. How about a couse that shows how kids were raised in the 50′s and 60′s? Someone has to know that little Johnny doesn’t study AT ALL, and nor do his friends.
    Johnny and company go to college and complain how hard it is and parents react by telling the deans what the taxpayer is entitled to and Johnny will not be made to…

    “Why do we have to learn this? I am here to be a XXXXXXX.” Insert accounting, writing, technology, computer science.

    Johnny’s dad said he didn’t have to learn all that, why should my boy?

  23. General education classes are expensive to take when trying to complete a degree/certificate or specific area in college.

  24. Hey! I know this is kinda off topic however , I’d figured I’d ask. Would you be interested in exchanging links or maybe guest authoring a blog post or vice-versa? My blog covers a lot of the same subjects as yours and I believe we could greatly benefit from each other. If you might be interested feel free to shoot me an email. I look forward to hearing from you! Fantastic blog by the way!

  25. The ones that you have listed are absolutely correct. However, I would also add one more, and that would be some simple technical drawing. All of these things can be self-taught by a little research at your university library. And of course, you can always practice these skills at poetry readings, various meeting, and even a little pretend that you are a person in charge with problems from management books in the libraries. The main thing is not to be too shy about exposing yourself to others because they have the same problems that you have.

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