College students accomplish far more than a diploma. College campuses give students an equally important opportunity: the chance to develop and refine the skills essential to getting a job after graduation–job skills you just can’t learn in a classroom alone. If you are a current college student, here are four must-have job skills you should score prior to graduation.
1. Communication skills (the No. 1 skill employers claim millennials lack)
Your intended profession will, no matter what, require you to communicate effectively and professionally. Whether it is with your boss, an internal or external client, or your team–you’ll need this “soft skill.” Learning to effectively speak, write, and listen shouldn’t be underestimated. While in college, you can do many things to hone these job skills. You can practice your listening skills during class lectures, when interacting with teammates on a class project, and when interacting with your faculty. Listen to and comprehend thoroughly before formulating a response or interrupting. Aside from polishing your writing skills through essays and other written class assignments, you have an opportunity to practice your practical, business writing skills any time you send an email to your professors, advisors, or peers. Practice being concise and direct in your email communication. Lastly, high quality verbal communication is vital to not only landing a job, but keeping one. If you can, consider taking a public speaking, negotiation, or general communication course that allows you to practice and receive feedback on your speech.
2. Networking & relationship-building skills
College is often the first time students realize the importance of social skills. Knowing how to network and establish rapport can serve you well in your career. In many fields, you will need to attract and maintain relationships with internal or external clients, acquire assistance from another person or team, or work with individuals in other divisions of your company. Your ability to build relationships, demonstrate your value as a team member, and connect with multiple contacts can help you work more effectively in any of these situations. The typical worker switches jobs every 4.6 years. And, when they do, having a full professional network that can recommend you is important. Practice building positive relationships with your faculty, which may ultimately help with career or graduate school placement later on. Don’t underestimate the power of making friends. In a work environment, a friendly conversation or joke can go a long way. Being yourself is crucial to effective networking–and that’s exactly what you learn to do in college.
3. Computer skills
Nearly every position will require technical job skills. The amount of expertise needed will depend on the field you plan to enter, but every graduating student should be prepared to use Microsoft Office, Microsoft Excel and Powerpoint, regularly and with a high level of proficiency. Graduates should also know some basic photo and video editing. If you feel like your skill sets are lacking in these areas, check your college’s catalog for courses to improve these job skills. Most business departments offer computer information courses, which teach the basics of Microsoft Office and the Internet. You can also gain digital editing skills through many classes in the art or design fields.
4. Problem-solving skills
Most employers report wanting to hire new graduates who have a knack for analyzing problems and creative problem-solving. Analysis and problem-solving go hand in hand. To develop real solutions, you must fully understand all facets and implications of the problem and the proposed solutions. You can develop your problem-solving skills in your college courses and in everyday life. Whenever presented with an academic or personal challenge, practice understanding the problem fully, keeping an open mind to all possibilities and outcomes, and approaching the problem from different perspectives. Over time, your ability to solve problems creatively and effectively may improve, and you’ll be able to apply these skills to the workplace.
These are just four of many vital career skills that you can develop throughout your time in college. To maximize your college experience, try to gain something from every assignment that will benefit you after graduation. Remember that only a committed and consistent practice of these job skills can result in noticed improvement.
written by Brenna Tonelli
Brenna Tonelli is a contributing writer for Varsity Tutors, a platform for private academic tutoring and test prep designed to help students at all education levels achieve academic excellence. The company operates a curated marketplace for high-quality tutors and builds mobile learning apps, online tutoring environments, and other tutoring and test prep-focused technologies.