Pass or Fail: Eight Career Lessons You Can’t Learn in Class

“Some lessons can’t be taught; they can only be learned.” Whoever coined that expression probably spent some time on a payroll. The politics, infrastructure and expectations of a job – whether at an office or a job site – can be learned only through experience. Here are eight (sometimes tough) lessons we’ve learned along the way:

  1. The Homework Never Ends

If you want to excel in your chosen field, you have to avoid stagnation. Don’t wait for changes or new innovations to reach you – actively seek out information or resources that make you a more valuable employee. Networking is a great way to stay on the leading edge of your industry.

  1. The Dream Job Wake-up Call

Sometimes, the perfect job is surrounded by the wrong circumstance. For example, it may be located in a city that you simply can’t afford. Or, and this happens more than people like to admit, the profession simply isn’t what you expected. Don’t think you have to completely start over or give up – you likely have skills that translate well into other fields or departments. And it’s never too late to try something new.

  1. Learn to Say No

When you start a job, saying ‘yes’ to whatever comes your way is usually a good thing. However, this can make learning to say ‘no’ problematic, especially if you’re taking on so much that you start missing deadlines. Remember, saying ‘no’ at work isn’t a personal offense – it can be good business.

  1. Speak Up

The only thing worse than being a problem is being ignored or forgotten. Also, don’t be afraid to be the squeaky wheel, especially if you’re able to offer a solution to an issue you’ve noticed.

  1. A Boss From Below

A good boss is hard to find. Some people are better at managing projects than people, while others manage people better. So, while you can’t choose your boss, you can choose your reactions to this person. Find ways to work within his or her parameters. And in the meantime, you’ll figure out what you can and can’t tolerate.

  1. Work-Life Imbalance

The 9-to-5-work schedule is a myth. While technology has made telecommuting a fact of life for many, that 24/7 access means it’s hard to stay off the grid. With research proving

that long hours lead to inefficiency (or even health issues), stay firm about how much you can handle (see lesson 3 above).

  1. Keeping Good Company

Depending on your career, your relationships with co-workers can make or break your advancement. As a rule, it’s best to seek out and nurture working relationships with people whose work you admire.

  1. Be Yourself

It’s hard to lead a double life, and doubly so at the office. Don’t fake skills or pretend to have connections you haven’t cultivated (yet). Be honest about your abilities and open to expanding your skills, and you’ll likely find success. Employers love authenticity.

And that’s just a few of the many lessons you’ll learn throughout your working life. What advice would you share with someone entering the workforce? Share your insight in the comments section below.

Back-to-School Saving Tips for 2015

For students in the Jefferson City and Columbia area, it’s almost time to head back to school. For parents, that means it’s also time to start setting a budget for the school year (and let’s be honest, maybe a little rejoicing?). There are many different ways families can save money year-round, rather than making big purchases at the start of the school year. All it takes is some preparation and planning ahead. Interested? Read on.

Demand and Supplies

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), families can expect to spend $97.74 per child on school supplies this year. Help yourself cut costs. Instead of buying all your school supplies the week before classes begin, consider creating a by-the-semester plan for purchases. Granted, there are some things you need upfront, especially when it comes to teacher-created supply lists. For these items, start shopping through your own drawers before you head to the dollar or general store.

For the rest, try to hold off for a few weeks. You can score some great after-season deals on things like backpacks or clothes, or even electronics such as scientific calculators or tablets. For example, the best time to buy denim is in October, not August (when it’s probably too warm to comfortably wear jeans anyway).

Many retailers will drastically reduce the pricing on these items as they make room for holiday gear, which seems to be set up earlier every year. Keep an eye on the clearance racks in September and October and you’ll save.

Brown Bag Savings

Lunchtime is another opportunity to rein in spending. If time is an issue (and time is, after all, money), bulk buys may be the way to go. Big-box stores can be a lifesaver for big families. But, if you find yourself consistently throwing out lunchmeat or produce that’s past its prime, it’s probably not worth the trip. Another avenue to consider is online subscribe-and-save deals, now available through retailers such as Target or Amazon. If there are snacks that you frequently pack in lunch sacks, this can be a good way to save money. Price it out and compare.

Another time- and cash-saving method is turning Sunday afternoon into “lunch prep time” for the week ahead. You can make and organize lunches for everyone in a matter of a few hours. Meal prepping is also an easy way to incorporate healthier eating habits, so it’s a win-win solution for busy families. Look for “bento box” style lunch bags, especially if you have a picky eater in your household.

By the Budget

Lastly, and most importantly, no matter how and when you pick up school supplies, you should set a budget (and stick to it!) before you hit the stores. You can get a good feel for costs by keeping an eye on newspaper ads and emails for the best deals. Decide how much you’ll spend per child or per semester and stay the course.

Where are you favorite places to get back-to-school deals in the area? Let us know in the comments!