In this era of accelerated change, overwhelming complexities, tremendous competition, only the best stand a chance of winning. If you ain’t ready, it’s going to be a rather grueling and ferocious battle.
The question becomes, how can you ensure that you are one step ahead before the war even begins?
During my four years as an undergraduate, I spent a significant amount of my time focusing only on the things that were related to my field, telecommunications engineering. It wasn't until the final semester of my degree program that reality struck me like a lightning bolt.
I suddenly realized there was so much I did not know because I was very confident my institution had taught me everything I needed. Oh boy, how wrong I was. I was not ready to face the real world. I lacked some critical soft skills that were paramount to bridging the gap between school and the world out of school.
In this article, I will share with you some soft skills that are imperative to build as a student before hitting the job market. These skills will go a long way to pave the way for more success in your career. In fact, mastering these skills is a prerequisite for frictionless attainment of success in the nearest future.
So if you’re ready, let’s get down to it…
1. Writing Skills.
There is a huge misconception between having a college education and knowing how to write with outstanding finesse and creativity.
Writing is a skill that every student needs to develop. The ability to express your thoughts and ideas on paper in such a logical way that anyone reading feels they are inside your very own brain is a powerful tool.
In the course of your education, you will encounter lots of opportunities that are life-changing and your writing will be the only passport required to get you through. For example, writing motivation letters for scholarships, jobs, internships, writing reports for your boss, etc.
Unless you are majoring in English at the university, I believe it is important that you try and dedicate some time to honing your writing skills. It doesn’t matter what you write about. Don’t fret, you need not be as good as writers of novels.
Avoid the delusional thought that having a college degree implies you are good at writing. Most of the time this is never the case if you are being absolutely honest with yourself.
How can I improve my writing skills?
Just like muscle building requires constant weight lifting, improving your writing skills require that you write constantly and consistently.
Start by writing a page of anything every day. It could be a journal entry, part of a novel or short story, a blog, a homework, a grocery list. The idea is to strengthen the mental muscles needed for writing.
If you are feeling more excited and love to share your thoughts with others, you can start by creating an account on Quora which is a question and answer website and start providing answers to some questions. This will help you build some confidence. If you want to go one step further and write a blog post just like this one, register for a free account on medium and start writing immediately.
One last tip to develop your writing skills is to read what great writers are writing, learn from it, and start emulating that. I will recommend you check out Jerry Jenkins’ blog where he shares tips on how to write great pieces.
A good writer is a good reader!!
2. Communication Skills
Have you ever been filled with brilliant ideas but just can't seem to express yourself lucidly? Your mind just freezes every time you have to speak to an audience. That is like the most frustrating feeling in the entire universe.
Despite the popular opinion that some people are just naturally outspoken while others are introverts, when it comes to communication skills, anyone, I mean anyone can be a good speaker with practice.
Most students usually shy away from being put in situations that require them to express their thoughts to an audience. It feels uncomfortable which is understandable.
However, it never gets better. As you grow, your audience changes not only in age but also in size. From the class of 25 students, you soon find yourself amid a group of 100 people, and the fear of talking just keeps spreading like the Australian wildfire.
We need to understand that speaking in a group of people is inevitable in a person’s lifetime and that, those who are brave enough to speak in such situations are those that are usually regarded as leaders.
As a student, it is much easier to put in the effort to hone your public speaking or communication skills while you are still in school and among familiar faces, before encountering the real world filled with strangers. This goes a long way in building the confidence necessary to express your opinions in front of a board of directors in your future company or address an audience of thousands of people.
The best way to develop any skill is to start small. For communication skills, I will advise, you begin by always ensuring that you ask at least one question in every class to the professor. Sooner or later, it’s going to be like second nature to you. Your lecturers will think highly of you and at the same time, you will be conquering your fear of public speaking. Shooting two birds with one stone and it is a win-win.
3. Persuasion Skills
Look around you, everywhere you turn someone is trying to persuade you to do something. The media wants to keep you glued to your screens, social media apps send random notifications every second just to get you to click that button.
Not forgetting you, yes you reading this right now!. Now, remember as a kid when you wanted ice-cream so badly that you had to cry out loud until mum bought it? or when you had to muster the confidence to ask that beautiful girl next door to go out on a date with? Yeah, that was you putting on your A-game of persuasion.
When it comes to your educational and career life, it is of utmost importance to develop professional persuasion skills, because it will literally dictate how fast and how far you can get in life and what you can achieve.
Students who get admissions to top-elite universities, scholarships, internships, job offers are always those that were more persuasive. They were able to convince the bosses, the board of directors, the superiors that they were better than everyone else.
Here is something we need to understand as we aspire to achieve our dreams. Certificates and academic accomplishments can only go so far. That is why face-to-face interviews are always conducted by organizations and institutions. These interviews almost always determine your fate.
But where exactly do I start Beltus?
From my personal experience, I strongly advise you to search for some great books on the topic of persuasion. My personal favorite is the very popular book How to win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. Trust me, after completing this book, you will know exactly how to relate with people and so much more.
If you not feeling like reading a completed book, it's okay. I got you covered. Here is an article that summarizes the 12 ways to be more persuasive from the book.
4. Independent Thinking Skills.
Are you are downloader or a processor?
There are two types of students. The ones I term downloaders and the other processors. Downloaders are rigid. They spend hours in class listening to what is taught without ever questioning for any second the information or asking themselves if the information really makes sense.
Processors, on the other hand, listen diligently, process the information in their brains, and then try to draw their own personal and logical conclusions. They do this either by applying the knowledge they just learned in different scenarios or seeking alternative sources of information to validate and clear any doubt they might have. By constantly forcing their brains to analyze the information that is being bombarded to it, they develop powerful creative thinking ability.
But how can I become a Processor?
Begin by always asking very basic questions. Don't think about the big questions. Not yet!. You are doing this to let your mind develop a sense of curiosity. Later on, people around you will be marveled by not only the profundity of your questions but also its relevance.
Wherever you are be the Independent thinker. Every decision that has ever been made started with someone asking the right questions.
5. Flexibility and Adaptability skills.
Love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort and keep on learning — Carol Dweck
We find ourselves in a world that is rapidly changing. What is relevant today would be completely out of date tomorrow. We have technology to thank for that.
Your ability to adapt to changing times would go a long way to ensure that you remain a valuable asset to your company. It is easier to develop these skills while in school than when already on the job.
How do I develop such a skill?
To be flexible is to have an open-mindset. This can be achieved by committing to continuous learning. By understanding and accepting that there would be a lot of things that you don't know and will be required to learn as you undertake the journey of life is the perfect growth mindset to have.
Sometimes it would require that you take full in-class or online courses just to acquire the necessary knowledge required to accomplishing a particular task. This can either be a torturous exercise or an exciting adventure of seeking new knowledge depending on whether you are mentally flexible or not.
It is a shame after studying very hard for years in school just to get to the real world and realize there is so much more you don’t know. Our educational institutions are great at teaching you the theoretical and technical concepts related to your area of specialization, however, there fail significantly in focusing on skills that are necessary for a successful and satisfying career.
In this article, I highlighted the five top skills I believe are the most important for every student to develop before they are thinking of hitting the job market.
They included the ability to write, the ability to communicate, the ability to persuade, the ability to think independently, and finally the ability to be flexible and dynamic. I hope you enjoyed reading this article.
Thanks for Reading and Never stop Learning!
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