Most students begin college thinking they’ll learn everything they need to know for their future careers in the classrooms on campus. While you’ll gain considerable knowledge learning facts and figures, theories and policies, you’ll also develop critical thinking skills, learn to work in teams, build leadership skills and begin to see the bigger picture as it relates to your career field and a specific job within that career. At the same time, are you really learning everything you need to know?
Some skills come from experience and others require you to practice … and practice, like public speaking. As you prepare for your future, here are some specific skills that could benefit you in the working world.
At some point in your career, you will need to speak in front of a group of people, whether it be a presentation you’re giving or defending your point of view. Even if you took a public speaking class, you should continue learning and practicing how to articulate and organize your thoughts. You can join clubs, such as Toastmasters that teach you the basics of public speaking. It’s a great way to practice with an audience who will give you constructive criticism and encouragement.
Dealing with Tense Situations:
Throughout your life, you will work with many people who don’t see eye to eye with you. You’ll encounter times when projects aren’t going in the direction you had hoped for or you and a coworker will need to have a tough conversation about processes, ideas or responsibilities. Learning to take a step back and approach the situation with an effective and constructive communication approach while understanding the emotions of each person involved is key to resolving difficult or tense situations professionally.
Working as a Team:
In college, your team projects often give you the chance to develop your planning skills, teach you how to delegate and build in accountability to your team. Sometimes, you find that you need to be prepared to step in when others don’t deliver. In the working world, you’ll use all of these skills and more. As you develop your teamwork skills, remember that sometimes it’s good to listen, setting team goals and building trust in the group is important, and personalities can have a big impact on the team’s leadership.
Keep up on the latest news from your industry and also potential companies where you might want to work. You should also learn how your targeted companies are affected by current events. To learn more about the industry, consider subscribing to business publications, blogs, or newsletters by industry associations.
Build your professional network by connecting with potential mentors or leaders in your industry by asking your professors to introduce you to their contacts. You can also search for professional contacts on LinkedIn and Twitter–but regardless of how you find people, you want to truly connect with them and build relationships. Get to know your contacts personally–don’t connect just to add another contact in your LinkedIn address book. It would also be beneficial to attend professional organization meetings and introduce yourself; be seen, be known, grow your possibilities for contacts after graduation and beyond.
While managing assignments for multiple classes and campus clubs is beginning to teach you how to manage your time, learning to set priorities and meet deadlines are also critical skills. Do you use a calendar or other online tool to track your assignments? Do you make lists to track your responsibilities? Do you procrastinate or set aside too much time for social activities? Take the time now to build good time management skills to ensure your success later on the job.
The classroom is producing an excellent student. It is up to you to go one step further and produce an excellent employee.
Michele is a Senior Recruiter for Sodexo, a world leader in quality of daily life solutions that contribute to the progress of individuals and the performance of organizations. As a former assistant director at the University of Maryland University College’s Career and Cooperative Education Center, she’s no stranger to students trying to plan their careers. During that time, she worked with non-traditional college students to gain school credit for on the job work experience. Michele also taught seminars on job searching, resume writing and interview techniques, and partnered with local employers to help students gain employment. At Sodexo, she has continued her interest in shaping student careers by serving as a mentor to an intern in the company’s Future Leaders Program. Michele began her recruitment career in 1999, joining Sodexo in 2008 where she recruits for a range of food, facilities and environmental services positions. Michele holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland College Park (go Terps), is a charter member of a Baltimore area Toastmasters chapter, and a Certified Internet Recruiter (CIR) and Certified Diversity Recruiter (CDR). When not giggling with her two girls, Michele enjoys writing … and watching the Yankees win, much to the dismay of her husband. Join her on LinkedIn or just Network with Us at Sodexo.