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Things to Learn Now: Skills Your Degree Doesn't Teach You

15th July 2015 Posted by: Tom Hagues

MOST people go to university in the mind-set that, upon completion, they’ll have the sought-after recipe for life and how to be an adult. Sadly, this is very much not the case and it’s not unusual for people to finish their degree with the usual triumphant flourish tainted with the aftertaste of ill preparation. You might find yourself qualified to deconstruct a poem by Yeats, but that’s useless if you can’t code a website or file a business tax return. Here’s some of the most useful skills that students can teach themselves during their summer break.


It stands for Search Engine Optimisation and is used extensively across website-based businesses, news websites, blogs and shopping sites, to name but a few. To explain it in its simplest form: it’s a marketing tool that makes sure your product or web page gets drawn to the top of search engine results. It increases exposure to millions of people so, as you can imagine, it’s a lucrative skill to acquire. The bad news is that loads of people who have this skill will be beating you out of jobs that ask for it, but the good news is that you can learn it relatively simply in your own time. A good site to use in order to get to grips with it and other techno-skills is www.moz.com. That’s your summer holiday sorted then.


At first glance, you might think that this is a bit niche and you’re probably not likely to need to use either programmes in your chosen career. However, having these tools under your belt might prove extremely handy in a marketing or advertising role, or magazine production and public relations. Anything where image-heavy work is required, InDesign and Photoshop will probably be really helpful and the good thing is that you might not have to take a course – just playing around with it in your free time will give you a solid understanding of the basics and anything more detailed you want to know can be read up on.


This is a big one in today’s busy world of technology and everything being online. Coding opens up many doors, both digitally and career-wise and knowing it sets people apart from those who don’t speak the language. Coding is used to build websites (perfect for a self-employed person who can’t afford a website designer) and there are careers devoted to it and gives you a mandate for starting your own technology business – be it an app or website. Career coders are notoriously well-paid because there aren’t many of them, which also means finding a job in the field is all that bit easier. A good website to learn the basics and get to grips with it all is www.codecademy.com. You’ll know how computers work in no time at all.



If your foreign language skills go no further than ‘bonjour’, ‘grazie’ and ‘dos cerveza, por favor’, you might want to think about leaning a language in your summer holiday. The Duolingo smartphone app is quite good for the vocabulary and getting basic grammar under your belt, but most universities these days offer spare-time language courses for students who want to access more of the world. Having two foreign languages in your brain makes you a highly employable asset, having more than three makes you virtually priceless. The great thing about languages is that resources are plentiful and you can choose which courses work best for you, be it listening to a Rosetta Stone CD or reading a grammar book.


As you stifle a yawn at this bit, take a moment to think about how important it actually is. It might save you time, money and hours of phone calls if you taught yourself a spot of accountancy, how to file tax returns and all the other mundane bits you’re legally obliged to do. This is especially important for people starting their own businesses and will stand you in good stead when it comes to knowing what you can claim for or what tax relief you’re entitled to. For UK residents, HMRC’s website can sometimes a web of confusion and terror, but knowing what you’re looking for will numb that pain and make the process much easier. You can wise up online or with the various accountancy course books available – perfect for a spot of summertime reading on the beach…

Related articles:

Learn a Foreign Language in Your Spare Time

How to Be the Perfect Intern


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