It’s hard to believe, but this past May marked three years since I graduated college. I learned a number of incredible things at Winston-Salem State University, but there are some things that the higher education system just isn’t designed to teach you. However, if I were starting my own university, these four classes would be mandatory.
1. Cover Your Ass 101
Course Description: In the working world, “friends” are few and far between. Paychecks and positions are at stake. When mistakes are made, and they will be made, someone is going to be held responsible. Being the wide-eyed, fresh-faced rookie, you are the prime target. The same guy who shoots the breeze with you in the break room will rat you out in front of your boss when you mess up so he can look good. Bottom line, if you make mistakes, own up to them, and let a superior know as soon as possible. But never, ever take responsibility for a mistake you don’t make.
2. Side Hustling For Dummies
Course Description: So you’ve got your shiny, laminated degree from State U., and you’re ready for your $40k job with two weeks vacation and full benefits–you and the rest of the world! Nobody owes you anything–and unless you have a family member or a close friend who owns a business, nobody is going to give you anything. While you’re out there looking for that dream-job, you’ll need to have some kind of income to at least get back and forth to interviews. So until your spaceship takes off, don’t turn your nose up at jobs that will provide you a source of income. Babysit some kids. Do substitute teaching. Not only will these jobs keep you afloat while you pursue more meaningful employment and fill up your resume, they’ll definitely make you appreciate it when you do get hired.
3. Collections Negotiations
Course Description: No matter what your job situation looks like six months after you get out of school, your student loan lender will come knocking. You can ignore their calls, change your number, try to hide… but they will find you! We understand this can be intimidating, especially when the amount you owe is as much as a week of your salary, but hiding won’t make it better. Even if you can’t pay the full amount, make it clear to them and let them know you will pay something. It’ll keep them off your back and let you breathe a lot easier as you navigate the road to success.
4. Being The Black Employee 101
Course Descriptions: So you’ve got the job. Your resume baited them in, you managed to reel them in during the interview and now you’ve got that job in mystic Corporate America . What they didn’t tell you though, is that you filled two positions for the price of one. Not only are you a trained expert (insert title here), you are also “the black employee.” You will have to make the choice between being the spokesperson for all things black, being the racial dodger or simply being the angry black employee–sometimes all in the same work day. You will also have to decide whether or not you really want to show your best moves at the company Christmas party or stand idly by as your coworkers struggle to master the electric slide. Baratunde Thurston’s How To Be Black is definitely required reading.
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