College Graduates: What to learn next? Think, Swiss Army Knife.
As an entrepreneur who believes in growth hacking, the movie Limitless starring Bradley Cooper remains to this day a dream within a dream. The plot focuses on the escapades of Bradley Cooper’s character who takes an upgraded version of Adderall called NZT. The drug seemed to enhance Cooper’s character’s capacity to learn different traits and skills within a short time. He learns piano, submits a book to his publisher, learns a few languages, and starts building an aggressive stock portfolio. After acquiring each of these skills the movie highlights how Cooper’s character acquires new opportunities, businesses, and peers. He is seen as an asset addition to a hedge fund and is treated as a thought leader. All because of his ability to adapt and learn diverse skills which benefitted his interactions with others by being able to approach situations through a different lens. All in all, the NZT drug allowed him to literally be a “jack of all trades,” without being a “master of none,” (sorry Netflix Technology Blog ).
Off the cinema screen, there is no “smart drug,” that exists that can match the effects of NZT. I am sure that even if there was it most likely did not get through any FDA/EMA approval process whatsoever. The movie is right in showing that learning a diverse amount of skills can truly contribute to personal development as well as career development. In fact, if you have just graduated from college it often helps to learn more skills outside of your initial major. Take for example the plight of a liberal arts major trying to find a job in business upon graduating. The more skills that particular student acquires over their career the more vital and valid they are to the performance of the company. In fact, any individual who knows sales, marketing, business development, has basic technical expertise, and a baseline of leadership principles is a true candidate for the C-Suite. I digress, the more skills that you have in the context of any type of job or social situation is beneficial to your development whatever it is you choose to do.
Below I have included my own concoction of 3 skills/tasks that I recommend pursuing after graduating college in order to enhance your career and personal development as well. These skills/tasks may be obscure but please bear with me, they are productive to your base of development.
1.) #SQL or any Data Analytic Software:
SQL which stands for Structured Query Language allows you to store, manipulate, and retrieve data in databases. SQL allows you to use SELECT statements to answer specific data driven questions that may be critical to your strategy. Instead of using the usual tools of Excel SQL uses subset languages such as Data Manipulation Language (DML), Data Definition Language (DDL), and Data Control Language (DCL) all of which help manage large database structures. SQL also differs from Excel because SQL can hold thousands of data sets that can efficiently and effectively be manipulated. This is extremely valuable to learn as the uses for the multiple data sets stored on SQL can be applied universally. Outside of the business bubble, political science graduates may use this to track voter turnout in specific districts for their candidate. Sociologists may use this in order to track welfare data to outreach to specific communities. The possibilities are endless! Having a basic grip on SQL or any data analytics software in addition to excel makes you an extremely valuable prospect.
More On SQL:
I cannot stress how time and time again I see Salesforce integrated into the basic core qualifications of a job. Many companies now use Salesforce for all aspects of customer relations management or (CRM). Salesforce offers a plethora of services that are all centralized and virtually stored which allows employees to easily collaborate and execute on tasks for specific projects. As #Quora states, it allows for every department to collaborate in order to either close a sale while continually being easy to manage. Force.com which exists under the Salesforce umbrella allows a user to create customer facing apps which allow for developers to utilize data analytics to automate sales. I am only touching a small micro portion of what Salesforce actually does so I urge you to take a look at the link below for more information. If you are interested in taking the next step, an easy and universal path to follow which will give you a leg up is the Salesforce Administrator certification. Pursuing a certification and then showing that you have it on your resume or #LinkedIn provides employers with the understanding that you are versatile and can utilize Salesforce with a small learning curve (if any). Definitely a skill worth exploring, or at least having a basic understanding of.
3.) Take the Foreign Service Officer Test
I know what you may be thinking. This is a joke, right? When I first started studying for the initial FSO Test I wanted to be involved with international affairs in some way or another. The possibility of working with foreign dignitaries and acting as a diplomat seemed extremely attractive to me. So I set about studying for the Foreign Service Officer Test which literally tests you on everything. This is why I highly recommend taking the Foreign Service Officer test or even the practice test (which is free)!
A foreign service officer (in short) works at a US embassy or consulate and works within a specific career silo. The silos available are provided in the link below. My interest was focused on being a management officer so I applied under the management track. The submission process first mandated that I take the FSO test in order to be considered. The training and preparation materials tested me on everything from history, language, software, mathematics, psychology, science, and real life scenarios. The reason why I included this as a step to follow was mainly because of the well-rounded application of knowledge required to ace the test. While taking the practice test online and the tests available on the @DOS phone app, I wrote down all the questions that I got wrong and the answers. This allowed me to get a better grip on the material and also increase my areas of knowledge at the same time. It may seem odd to spend your time on but in reality the tests are pretty fun and the knowledge obtained is priceless.
Check it Out!
The skills you acquire allow you to broaden your knowledge, start conversations, and stand out to employers. You become in essence a Swiss Army Knife, able to adapt and refine with every coming problem/situation. In the end I would argue that the more skills you have under your belt, the more of an adventure will await you in your career and life experiences.