1. Sell something. Even if you never go into selling full-time, holding a sales position at some point in your career can teach you valuable life lessons. We even suggest trying out a commission only job to get the full experience. It’s brutal to get rejected over and over, but you’ll learn to persevere—and you’ll figure out how to be successful.
Besides, whether or not you realize it, you’re actually selling all the time. You have to sell yourself to companies to get jobs—and peers and bosses to earn their respect and promotions.
2. Take an improv class. It can develop your ability to listen more carefully, build on the ideas of others, solve problems creatively and get comfortable with risk—and even failure.
3. Mind your (table) manners. Many meetings take place over fine lunches and dinners, so it’s important to know the basics, learn how to order graciously, which fork and knife to use, and bread plate etiquette. Your comfort with the basics will ease nerves, as well as make you look polished. If you don’t have these skills, it will stick out—and possibly be a negative in terms of interfacing with clients or employers.
4. Learn basic HTML. Millennials get a lot of credit for being “digital natives” but knowing merely how to browse the web, send email, use Twitter, and upload videos doesn’t really mean much these days. You don’t have to know how to write software or create a website from HTML, but you need to know enough to understand how programming works so you’re ahead of the curve.
5. Get out of the country. Spending time abroad—even if it’s just personal travels—is good experience to have in an increasingly global economy. Through travel, you can gain an amazingly broad view of the world—and maybe even find new career opportunities.
6. Adopt a cause you believe in. Volunteering can help show trust and value to potential employers, it illustrates you care about something deeper than the daily grind. But don’t just team up with a nonprofit to meet people or because it looks good on your résumé. Join one to help others first and make connections second.
7. Be willing to invest in yourself. Your career is your biggest asset, so it will require some financial investment. Don’t be afraid to invest in a library of self-help career books, lunches and dinners with influential people, and ongoing courses to build a career bedrock.