Don't Leave College Without These 10 Digital Skills
Graduation season is upon us, and that means college graduates everywhere are preparing to enter "the real world." But chances are your liberal arts degree, as hard-earned and valuable as it is, doesn't equip you with every digital skill you need.
We've put together a short list of fundamental skills that every college graduate should possess, from simply branding yourself online to learning basic coding. They're guaranteed to increase your overall digital know-how, and you can learn them all on your own.
Did you graduate college a long time ago, or never attended? Don't worry — it's never too late to learn these skills. They're useful to anyone.
1. Setting Up a Wi-Fi Network
These days, most students are lucky enough to go to colleges that already have wireless Internet set up in the dorms. By simply typing in a password on the provided network, the web magically appears on your laptop. But once you graduate, that's no longer the case. To save yourself from this harsh reality, learn what it takes to get working Wi-Fi: setting up the modem, launching a new network and researching local companies and pricing.
2. Backing Up to the Cloud
With all those photos of your friends, your music library and a copy of your 40-page thesis, your entire world exists on the hardware of your computer, phone or tablet. You're going to want to back all of that up to the cloud, either to preserve it, or so you can access your information anywhere. Whether you're interested in iCloud or Dropbox, research the various services that are available and find the one that's right for you.
3. Basic Photo Editing (Photoshop)
Even if you don't plan on using Photoshop regularly after graduation, it doesn't hurt to know the basics. More and more careers require Photoshop skills, whether it's journalism, marketing or even non-profit work. Snag a cheaper copy of Elements and learn your way around a paint brush, layers and color correction.
4. Basic Video Editing (Final Cut Pro)
Just like photo editing, video editing can come in handy, too. Check if a friend or someone well-versed in multimedia at one of your school publications or libraries can teach you the basics of Final Cut Pro. At the very least, you'll be able to cut some sweet YouTube videos.
5. Google Drive and Microsoft Office (Seriously)
These tools may seem obvious, but knowing the ins-and-outs of Google Drive and Microsoft office is a digital skill you shouldn't go without. Learning how to make a proper Excel spreadsheet actually takes effort, and it's still a specific qualification for many job listings. Google Drive includes docs, spreadsheets and forms, and it's easy to collaborate with other users at the same time. Slideshow presentations still haven't gone out of style, so re-familiarize yourself with Microsoft PowerPoint, Google Presentations or other sites like Prezi.
6. HTML and Basic Coding
Since our culture is increasingly web-centric, you should know the basics of crafting online content — and how to control the look and feel of it. HTML5 is the standard markup language used everywhere from web design firms to newsrooms. Other types of coding can help you make programs and easily get information from your computer (check out Codecademy andKhan Academy for beginners' tutorials).
7. Setting Up a Website and Domain
Every college graduate should have a website, whether it's to brand himself (see number 10 on this list), showcase his original work (art portfolio, writing samples, etc.) or just to learn for future instances. Coding can help you out here, but you can also use various website-building services, such as Wordpress and Squarespace.
You should also learn how to create a custom domain: for example, "yourname.com" rather than "yourname.wordpress.com." This looks more professional (and cleaner overall). Namecheap and GoDaddy are two popular domain name services and hosting sites.
8. Converting File Formats
Sometimes you'll have a file format different from the one you need — DOC instead of PDF; WMA instead of MP3 and so on. Knowing how to convert these files is useful, especially when you're trying to send your resume (or at least, getting that movie to play on your Roku USB Media Player). Certain programs, like Microsoft Word, will do the legwork for you, but you can find a variety of file conversion programs for those other tricky file extensions.
9. Online Banking
Who needs to balance a checkbook when you're living in the digital age? Major banks like Bank of America and Chase feature very intuitive online banking systems and mobile apps. You can manage your finances anywhere you have an Internet connection. Instead of waiting in long lines at your local branch, deposit checks and make transfers right from your phone.
10. Branding Yourself
Companies are screening prospective employees through Google searches and social media — and since 94% of users click on the first page of results, it's in your best interest to brand yourself properly before going on any big interviews.
What does this entail? Google your name and see what pops up on the first page. If you see anything problematic, learn how to fix it. In addition to setting up a website and claiming a domain name, you should establish a social media presence, especially on LinkedIn andTwitter, and post positive content. If there's anything you wouldn't want prospective employers to see (e.g., Facebook photos), make sure it's completely private.