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They Really Should’ve Taught These Courses in College

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Let’s face it—there are some things college simply didn’t train us for. {Click to Tweet} Yeah, you put in several years of study, became an expert in your field, and learned everything from business to engineering. Perhaps you even landed your dream job after graduation. But now, people are talking about benefits, 401(k) plans, what fancy wine they’re having with dinner, and all of these other adult things that you can’t help but wonder, why didn’t college prepare me for this?

The good news is that there are a ton of resources available to help out and it’s never too late to learn more. Here are a few of my favorite courses from the University of Real Life, along with some helpful tips from our “alumni.”

Taxes 101: Uncle Sam Better Have My Money

Try to think of tax season as that semester-long class with the final project due in April. Sure, you can procrastinate and try to get everything done the week before the deadline, but you’ll thank yourself later if you plan ahead, get organized, and start filing earlier. Filing early starts the processing of any refunds you may be owed, thus giving you your money faster. (Just in time for splurging on Soulcycle and brunch!)

[Related: The 50 Best Colleges in America]

Usually, the tax filing deadline is April 15th but thanks to holiday scheduling, the due dates for 2016 are actually on Monday, April 18th and Tuesday, April 19th for Maine and Massachusetts residents.

While this “final project” is totally doable on your own (check out the IRS’s Free File and these cheat sheets for doing last season’s taxes), you can always consult an accountant for more advice.

Money Management for Millennials: 401 (k) Plans

When you’re first starting out in your career, people often ask if you’re saving for retirement. My response usually goes, “That’s literally so far from now!”

With student loans, rent, and happy hour with coworkers to pay for, it can be tough to set aside a huge chunk of your paycheck every month. But you could be losing out on so much more if you don’t, especially since many companies match a portion of what you put in. If you’ve ever taken a course in finance (or have already invested money in some form—in which case, kudos to you), you’d know how much of a difference compounding makes over the years.

[Related: 7 Life Skills You Won’t Learn in College]

The thing that seems to be tripping up most millennials is knowing how and where to invest that money. According to CNN, while contributing to a 401(k) is becoming a priority for millennials, statistics show that most are unsure of how these savings are currently being invested.

So after you’ve negotiated your salary and walked through your benefits plan, be sure to make some time to figure out what exactly your 401(k) plan entails and how you can maximize your savings for the future. {Click to Tweet}

Networking Fundamentals

Everyone references networking as a great way to start or further your career—whether you’re making friends, new acquaintances, or mentors. The best part about this awareness is that many colleges are now integrating networking into the curriculum (or through on-campus organizations) more and more. However, there are some nuances to networking that college doesn’t exactly go through.

Take happy hour, for example. This isn’t like your college mixer with cheap drinks and beer pong (although some industries actually do have events like that), so don’t act crazy like you would in college. Instead, view it as a fun way to get to know your coworkers and their personalities outside of the office. If you take it a little seriously, it can also be a key to career growth.

[Related:5 Inspiring College Grads to Connect with Today]

While college definitely taught us a lot about work and life, it’s always a good idea to continue learning as much as possible, and to always keep an eye out for any other resources that can help in the adult world. {Click to Tweet}

This article was originally published on Career Contessa.

Photo: Krzysztof Puszczyński / tookapic

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