Students often view college as a “pit stop” on the road to their future careers. However, college life provides numerous opportunities to build and develop skills that will lead to career professionalism.
In their book FOCUS on College and Career Success, Second Edition, Dr. Steve Staley and Dr. Constance Staley offer a list of “Ten Things Employers Hope You Will Learn in College.” We’ve summarized them below. Share them with any students who hope to apply themselves to career success well before they enter the job market!
1. Develop reliability, diligence, and consistency today. Hard work gains others’ respect. Living by a strong work ethic while you’re in college will help you carry these traits into your future career.
2. Make knowledgeable decisions. Just as you’d study for an exam, “study up” on the field that interests you and the position you hope to achieve. Knowing the ins and outs of your preferred career path will help you enter the job market with eyes wide open. It will also help interviewers see that you are an informed applicant.
3. Develop a problem-solving mindset. Think critically and approach questions, challenges, and setbacks with a positive and proactive attitude. You’ll gain a reputation as someone who wants to make an impact and get things done.
4. Polish your communication skills. If you can speak and write with clarity and finesse, you’ll ensure that others understand what you mean, right from the start. What’s more, if you develop your ability to listen well, you’ll better understand what others are really saying to you.
5. Be a team player. The ability to interact with others in a courteous, approachable, and professional manner will enable you work well with fellow students… and with future colleagues.
6. Follow the “unwritten rules” as well as the official ones. Your parents and guardians, as well as your college, have standards of conduct you need to follow. Yet, as you go through life, you’ll notice that there are certain unspoken guidelines of behavior that weren’t explicitly taught to you. Likewise, a workplace will have its official guidelines and regulations, but you’ll soon notice that people abide by particular “do’s” and “don’ts” that aren’t written in the employee handbook. Stay observant of the workplace culture, and conduct yourself as others do (so long as you’re not violating your own sense of right and wrong).
7. Respect those research skills you’re learning. As you write your research papers, you’re developing your ability to find relevant and trustworthy information, then analyze and interpret your findings. These skills will enable you to find the information you need to solve the problems and challenges you encounter while you’re at work.
8. Maintain your math skills, too. To one degree or another, your job will require you to apply what you learned in math courses. You may be asked to create or review budgets, take measurements and apply them to product specs, or analyze data. In all likelihood, you’ll use spreadsheet software as well. Therefore, it pays to retain those skills to your best ability.
9. Be willing to go the extra mile. Just as extra credit work can help you improve your performance in a course (and become more knowledgeable in the process), the willingness to go “above and beyond” at work will better satisfy customers’ or clients’ needs, increase your colleagues’ and managers’ chances of success, and ultimately result in a solution that better satisfies all involved. As people come to see you as a “can-do” person who truly cares about his or her work, you’ll also support your own goal of progressing in your career.
10. Develop discipline. The ability to use your time, money, and resources way will help you become an effective “self-manager” who’s capable of getting your work done well, and on time, in college and in your career. These skills will also help you become a successful manager of both projects and other people. (Staley and Staley, 322-324)
Reference: Staley, Steve and Constance Staley. 2015. FOCUS on College and Career Success, 2nd ed. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.