Students go to college for different reasons but two main reasons are to get better jobs and make more money. It is true that in today’s society having a degree or certificate opens many doors and qualifies people for better jobs. However, in the working world there is more to being successful then having that diploma or certificate hung on the wall that says you attended college. Don’t get me wrong, it is incredibly important to attend college however there are other skills that you need to have to be successful in the working world. These skills are referred to as “soft” skills. These are the things that will set you apart from a colleague who has the same degree or certificate as you. Each work environment is different and each employer has different expectations. When you do get a job it is important that you know what those expectations are and take them seriously.
Below are a few examples of soft skills that will be incredibly important to you as you enter the working world:
Communication skills: Having good communication skills will be important in any job that you have. Communication skills are not limited to speaking either. In the working world email is the most commonly used form of communication. While you are in college take every opportunity to practice your writing skills and speaking skills. Don’t disregard your freshman English class because it might be a prerequisite, you will use those skills throughout college and when you have a job. Similarly, if you have the opportunity to take a public speaking class take it! For most, public speaking is nerve wracking but you will never be good at it if you do not practice. Participating in a class like this will also make you more confident in your communication skills even in causal one-on-one conversations.
Teamwork/ Collaboration: Employers want employees who can work as part of a team. Not all jobs require the same amount of team work but at some point or another you will be collaborating with other people in the work place. It is important that you know how to work effectively with your colleagues. It is likely you will be required to work in a group setting at least once while in college, take advantage of this opportunity and learn from it.
Time management: In the work setting you may have multiple projects going on at the same time. Being busy is a great thing but you need to be capable of managing your time and prioritizing what needs to get done so that nothing slips through the cracks. In the workplace it is imperative that you do your work on time and do it well.
Self-motivation: Take initiative. Know how to get things done on your own. Your boss is not going to be continuously reminding you of things or telling you to make things better. It will be up to you to have your own internal drive to get work done.
Hopefully you can see above that many soft skills that are necessary to be successful in the working world are also skills you need to be successful in college. Make note of these skills and start using them NOW, that way you won’t have to think twice about them once you’re in the working world.