The Iglu Guide | Blog

5 essential career skills you will learn in shared accommodation

Heading off to university is about so much more than just studying for academic qualifications – although admittedly, that will take up a sizeable chunk of your time. Another huge part of the learning process won’t come from anywhere near your lecture hall, because it’s all happening inside your shared student accommodation. Without even realising it, you’re picking up some of life’s essential skills every single day that will all prove invaluable in the workplace when university days are done. If you’re considering the potential benefits of shared student accommodation, here’s 5 essential skills that could make it a very smart choice for your future career prospects.

1. Communication

Living with other people you’ve never met before is definitely going to sharpen your communication skills, and open up your eyes to a range of different personality types. By sharing accommodation with other students, you’ll encounter disagreements, conflict, opinion clashes and more. It might range from quietly negative behaviour through to a full-scale argument. Learning to manage these scenarios with your housemates in a calm, assertive and constructive manner can prevent those small issues from escalating into much more unwieldy problems. These types of skills are highly valued in the workplace, where you may regularly encounter differences of opinion, personality clashes, or disputes with colleagues or clients. They also help you have confidence in the value of your own perspective, and the ability to share it within a group environment. Working constructively with those you may not agree with is an essential attribute all by itself, and negotiating through any type of verbal conflict is a highly valued skill that shared student accommodation can unexpectedly bring to your future career.

Key career skills: Conflict resolution, active listening, negotiation, people skills, colleague collaboration, client communication, navigating workplace dynamics.

2. Teamwork and collaboration

Shared student accommodation usually has some golden rules which involve the sharing of various tasks and responsibilities such as cleaning, household expenses and possibly cooking on occasion. Learning to work with your entire household as one effective team is a great skill to take forward into the workplace. Your new flat mates may be people you don’t necessarily choose to spend time with, but if you are able to collaborate effectively and work productively, they are the exact skills you are likely to draw on at various times in your career. When working within a team, it’s about respecting the part that others play and understanding how their skillset may complement your own. Additionally, it’s a good opportunity to exercise your ability to exert soft power. You all play equal roles in your student accommodation setting, but you may find ways to encourage other students across to your point of view using skills such as advocacy or diplomatic negotiations. This setting mirrors the team-based projects that occur within a professional environment, where different roles need to collaborate closely together in order to achieve a particular outcome. Colleagues won’t usually be your best friends, but you’ll have the effective skills to hand to get the very best out of your working relationships. This is crucial to achieving professional goals.

Key career skills: Sharing tasks and responsibilities, building relationships, exerting power without authority, advocacy, diplomacy, team collaboration, cooperation, and compromise.

3. Time management and financial knowhow

Balancing your academic commitments alongside household chores and social activities requires highly effective time management skills. Factor in the usual financial constraints that most students face, and these are all the crucial workplace elements needed for managing projects, meeting deadlines and balancing the budgets. When you start out in your career, these experiences will help you prioritise tasks, set deadlines and meet expectations. It will also help you achieve credibility internally, and importantly stay productive. So whilst the cleaning up, house meetings, study allocation and budget planning all seem an absolute time suck right now, remember how it has the potential to feed into those essential career skills that will set you well up for the future.

Key career skills: Task prioritisation and allocation, financial planning, meeting deadlines, efficient time use, project management.

4. Flexibility and adaptability

There’s no doubt that many students feel out of their comfort zone when they enter shared student accommodation for the very first time. It immediately requires flexibility and adaptability as you work with alternative preferences and navigate group decisions – and it can all be utterly exhausting! Additionally, you’ll meet all sorts of different people from a range of cultural backgrounds. Without realising it, you’re already showing flexibility of behaviour and thought, adapting to your new scenario and demonstrating an open-mindedness and ability to thrive whatever the environment throws at you. Despite any differences that might occur within the household, you’ll discover that you are able to find middle ground as a direct result of this shared experience. Students living in shared accommodation show a preparedness to listen to others, an ability to go with the consensus and a willingness to do things differently. It’s about playing fair and being openminded – as well as having the ability to navigate the constantly evolving complexities of the modern workplace. These are all attributes which will be highly respected in any career pathway.

Key career skills: Adaptable to different environments and personalities, resilience, open-mindedness, flexibility, ability to embrace the opportunity of change.

5. Responsibility and motivation

Living independently and managing self-directed study both have a direct correlation to being a responsible and motivated colleague in the future workplace. As a student, you have to make choices every day about how you spend time. Will you head out with friends, or fulfil against cleaning the kitchen as it’s your turn on the household roster? Will you sleep in until lunch time, or set your alarm so that you can start exam revision at your desk? All these micro-actions help you learn to juggle your work life and home life, and live with the decisions that you take. It’s about taking full responsibility for everything you do. After all, there are no wrong decisions, just decisions. As long as you are prepared to accept the consequences. It is probably the first time that the buck truly stops with you as an individual, and this is likely to motivate you even further as you learn to juggle projects and stay organised with your workload. Living with other students at university reinforces how important it is to ‘do your bit’, and not let others down. It’s a perfect set-up for the real world, and a perfect learning for the future workplace.

Key career skills: Self-sufficiency, responsible action, teamwork, independent thought processes, proactivity.

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