Attending college is a personal and financial investment into your future. College is the time to develop personal and professional skills that eventually mold your marketable or “transferable” skills. These skills will help you further down the road when you finish school and enter the workplace. By identifying and strengthening your abilities, you can get a jump-start in the job market.
What Are Transferable Skills?
Transferable skills are those qualities, talents and personal attributes that most employers want to see. You’ll develop these skills during your college years when you do internships, complete academic projects, and participate in campus activities. For example, communication, organizational, interpersonal, and leadership abilities are transferable skills because they show an employer how valuable you are. In fact, if you’re applying for a job that you have no experience in, transferable skills can show that you can do the job.
Skills You May Already Have
When you think about your communication skills, ask yourself how strong your public speaking skills are and if you’re able to coherently articulate your thoughts. Not only are your verbal skills essential, but your nonverbal skills are critical, too. For example, how well do you write or edit? When you consider your organizational skills, think about your ability to multitask, set deadlines and follow through. If you want to assume a leadership role after college, think about your ability to delegate, build teams, and resolve conflict.
If you’ve identified that you lack in some of the above abilities, there are some actions you can take to improve those skills while you’re in college.
How to Boost Your Transferable Skills
To expand your communication skills while in college, you can participate in classroom presentations or become a member of the drama club or debate team. You can also take part in internships and take advantage of opportunities that allow you to present to your co-workers.
You can boost your organizational skills, ability to multitask, and time-management skills by doing other projects in addition to your classroom projects. For example, you might have a semester-long math project and an organization at your school that’s asking for volunteers for a project. That would be an opportune time to improve your transferable skills.
Finally, you can strengthen your leadership skills by participating as the team lead on group projects. Perhaps you can take on the role of president in one of your school’s student organizations. You can also participate in activities outside of school, like becoming a board member for a local charity. How well you communicate your transferable skills on your resume and during a job interview will be the key factors to landing that position.
So, remember the old saying that we have to crawl before we can walk. At some point, we’ve all had to experience our first job. College is the time for you to learn who you are and to develop yourself professionally. But, your marketable skills will play a vital role in your future success, and building them starts before you enter the workforce.