Develop transferable skills as a university student

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While at college, you will hear many employers, scholars, alumni and career staff say that you need to develop “transferable skills”. to get internships and jobs. but what does that mean?

Generally, these transferable skills can be defined as soft or subject-related knowledge. It is a wide range of skills that can be developed in one context, but can be very useful in another. As a result, they “transfer” across a range of roles and industries.

They include skills such as the ability to plan, anticipate and solve problems, manage pressure and adversity and demonstrate creativity or leadership.

You may be academically gifted, but you will also need to demonstrate and discuss these transferable skills when recruiting to show that you will add real value to an organization.

It’s hard to know where to start because there are countless surveys that aim to discover the best transferable skills. So I’ve listed my top four skills below based on my personal experience and conversations with recruiters.

  1. Communication

This skill consistently ranks high in the expectations of recruiters. This is a very broad skill area, often encompassing written and oral communication in various formats, from reports and presentations to general conversations.

A the director told me one day that there’s no point in having great ideas if you can’t explain them to others”. They were absolutely right, and those words resonated throughout my own career.

It is extremely important to clearly convey a message to your audience in a format that is accessible to them. During your studies, you will have many opportunities to write reports and give presentations, but you can also create opportunities through extracurricular activities in forums such as debating societies or toastmasters clubs or through the tutoring bias.

Try to challenge yourself and develop a variety of experiences. For example, if you don’t like public speaking, you might see this as an opportunity to overcome those anxieties and ask for feedback to help you grow.


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  1. Organization

​​​The ability to plan and juggle your time to meet deadlines and meet commitments is crucial both in college and in your future career. To be successful, you’ll need to plan your time, meet deadlines, and try to break large tasks down into smaller, more manageable components.

You could try to keep a task to do list and block time in your diary to help you focus. If things are starting to feel overwhelming, you can organize your list with the most urgent and important tasks at the top, followed by the less urgent or important ones.

Write down important dates, deadlines or meetings in a virtual or paper calendar and spend time at the start of each week checking what you absolutely have to do that week.

Identify distractions you can eliminate or postpone to ensure you stay on top of your to-do list. It’s also important to recognize your limits and try not to do too much at once so you can stick to the commitments you’ve made.

  1. Team work

The ability to work well with others is an essential skill sought by employers because most jobs are collaborative and not done in isolation.

To be successful in a team, you have to communicate well, keep your commitments, negotiate to resolve differences and put aside personal goals to achieve collective goals.

Listening skills are often crucial for successful teamwork, as is the ability to clarify if there is confusion. Your degree will likely include elements of group project work, which are designed to help you develop teamwork skills and allow you to reflect on your experiences to identify what went well and what could be. improved.

It is increasingly common for college group projects to include a reflection task where you receive feedback from your peers and an evaluator on your overall performance. If your degree program lacks group project work, you can turn to extracurricular activities or take on a committee position at a student club or society to help develop these skills.

  1. Small talk matters

This brings me back to my first point: communication. Conversation is a highly valued skill, especially if you’re seeking employment in a customer-facing or customer-facing position.

Being able to engage with people and build their trust is an extremely important part of developing professional networks and relationships. It’s not really a skill you can learn, but you can develop abilities by pushing your limits.

For example, you might try striking up a conversation with a classmate you’ve never spoken to before. It might sound a bit unnatural, but open-ended questions that don’t elicit one-word answers can help develop a conversation. This type of question requires the respondent to share information and can open a discussion.

It is not possible to detail every transferable skill in a short article, but I hope I have given an overview of the list of transferable skills and provided some food for thought to help you understand the importance of these skills in the world. work in the broad sense.

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