A lot of people have been questioning the value of a university degree because they think that, while you learn a lot of information in the classroom, you don’t pick up any proper life skills. Employers are increasingly concerned with practical, hands-on experience rather than theoretical knowledge. While it’s true that you don’t necessarily have as much practical experience as somebody that went straight to work instead of going to college, that doesn’t mean you can’t pick up those skills along the way while you’re studying.
If you’re worried about being able to compete in the job market once you’ve finished studying, you need to make sure that you’re developing your personal skills outside of your degree so you can prove to employers that you can work well in a real-life work environment. These are the skills you should work on while you’re at college.
Learn To Drive
This sounds like a bit of a strange one but if you don’t already know how to drive, you should get a license before you finish college. Some jobs require a license so if you haven’t got one, you’re limiting yourself quite a bit. Even when you’re applying for jobs that don’t require a license, employers will still prefer you to have one. Public transport is unreliable and companies will worry about the chance of you being late. It won’t be the thing that decides whether you get the job or not but if you’ve got a driving license, it’s another plus point for you.
Obviously, learning to drive is expensive and when you’re trying to do it on a college student’s budget, you might struggle. But remember, you’ve got 4 years before you graduate and head out to find a job so you can do it gradually. You can also make it more affordable if you use Money Expert for car insurance; they’ll be able to compare all of the deals and find you the best price so you aren’t wasting money on an expensive policy.
Networking is increasingly important in the job world these days and it’s often how you’ll land the best positions. If you can improve your networking skills while you’re at college and start making some good connections, you’ll be in a better position to find work when you graduate. There are all sorts of ways that you can network while you’re at college; try joining any organizations related to your degree, it’s a good way to meet people that will end up working in your industry later on. Building a good relationship with them now can come in handy in future if they can help you find new work opportunities etc. Going along to alumni events around the college is a good idea as well. People are often looking for the up and coming faces in the industry and if you make an impression on some of these people, they might offer you a job in the future.
These networking skills will stand you in good stead once you start working as well. When you’re attending conferences and expos and trying to make business connections, knowing how to network properly will be a valuable skill.
Leadership is another skill that employees are always looking for and they’ll often be skeptical about college students because they haven’t had an opportunity to hone leadership skills while studying. Most colleges will have a student government that you can get involved with or you can try to get leadership roles in some of the other organizations around campus. You could even start your own societies and organizations that you can head up. By putting these leadership roles on your resume you show employers that, although you haven’t displayed leadership skills in a work setting, you’ve got the transferable skills you need.
Another big concern that employers have about college graduates is that they don’t have great teamwork skills. College courses often involve lots of independent work which is a skill in itself because it shows that you can organize yourself, but when you’re in a work environment you need to be able to work as a team. That’s why it’s important to develop teamwork skills in your own time. Try joining some sports teams and getting yourself involved in volunteer projects with other people. Any group projects that you did while you were studying should also take front and center on your resume when you start applying for jobs.
It’s true that there are some skills gaps in a lot of college courses but don’t let it put you at a disadvantage in the job market. Get out there and develop those skills yourself.
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