8 Transferable Skills You Acquire At University
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When it’s time to leave the sacred bosom of university life and step into the big wide world of placements, student internships and graduate jobs it can feel difficult to work out what separates you from the other job-seekers out there. After all, more than 275,000 people graduated last year with a 2:1 or higher.
Often, in the competitive job market, it’s the skills that you’ve learnt from your time outside of your degree that can set you apart. What exactly might you have learnt? What transferable skills did you acquire?
#1 Organisation - Society or committee position
Taking an integral role within a society or committee at university isn’t just a great way to explore your passions and find new groups of friends, but it’s also a great way to learn invaluable organisation skills.
Society positions can be incredibly variable, but often involve organising events or fixtures, as well as trips abroad for a surprisingly large amount of people. For some of the larger societies, these can also involve fairly hefty budgets too.
Of course, by playing a central role in coordinating these things, you develop and portray an ability to organise both yourself and others. One of the regular misconceptions around graduates is that they are the archetypal disorganised, directionless student. By showing you used your time at university to gain experience in taking a key organisational role, you’ll display that there’s nothing to worry about.
#2 Communication – Bar job or student radio
By working at bar or coffee shop, you’ll gain a key understanding of how to deal with people through your experience dealing with customers. As well as being able to talk to others in a professional and clear way, you will have developed the problem-solving experience associated with dealing with customer complaints.
Similarly, getting involved presenting a student radio show is a great way to develop your communication skills while also showing you have the organisation to coordinate your own show.
Why are communication skills so key in the modern workplace? Well studies suggest that it’s the skill that employers value the most. This is particularly true in the graduate job market where employers are often concerned about a new recruit’s ability to communicate professionally with customers and colleagues in a confident, engaging manner.
#3 Conflict Resolution – Flat-sharing
One of the most exciting things about university is the opportunity to live with people your own age away from your parents for the first time. However, this comes with responsibilities and often arguments can come up over something as simple as dishes or whose turn it is to clean, while you may be in charge of ensuring bills are paid for the first time in your life.
Being able to deal with the day to day problems of flat-sharing for the first time can stand you in good stead to deal with the occasionally problematic issue of office politics. You’ll be experienced in dealing with clashing personalities and defending yourself when conflict arises.
#4 Entrepreneurship - Business and enterprise
By getting involved in business and enterprise societies at university you get access to all manner of workshops events and forums as well as gaining the opportunity and expertise to consider starting your own business.
All of these develop your wider business understanding and give you the chance to make mistakes, get things right and more importantly learn at an early stage.
Studies suggest that over half of employers admit the main reason why they look to hire graduates is to offer original ideas and a fresh perspective. By looking to start your own enterprise or getting involved in business and entrepreneurial events, you not only increase your business understanding, but show you’re willing to think creatively and problem solve effectively.
#5 Written communication – Student news and blogging
Getting involved in student newspapers at university can be a great way of developing your writing skills and an opportunity to write about things you’re passionate about in a way that’s engaging and relevant to your audience.
Equally, blogging about something that you’re enthusiastic about can be a great way to show employers you know how to grow an audience as well as how to write.
Of course if you’re interesting in pursuing a career in journalism, copywriting or content creation then showing you’ve taken an active interest in writing is incredibly useful, as well as being able to show examples of your work.
Beyond this, written communication is valued across all jobs; with so much work done on email across sectors, it’s important that you can write clearly and cogently in almost any role.
#6 Compassion – Volunteering
It’s great to get involved with charity at university, either directly through the student’s union or simply local charities that are important to you. They can be a valuable way of learning certain hard skills for sectors such as marketing or sales, or simply a great way to give back some of your free time to causes that you’re passionate about.
In general, compassionate people make good employees as it’s generally an indication of high emotional intelligence, which is generally valued even more highly than IQ by employers nowadays.
As a result, volunteering at university can really demonstrate how you’re willing to go the extra yard as well as showing that you’re adept at understanding and communicating with other people.
#7 Dedication – Sports
Were you never out of the gym or training pitch at university? Did you dedicate much of your university life to excelling your chosen sport?
Not only are sports a great way of making friends and keeping fit, but they can be a great example of your dedication, focus and ability to sacrifice certain things for a goal, particularly if you were especially successful.
Being part of a sports team - as a star player or on the committee - will give you transferable skills that you can add to your CV. Employers go bananas for such activities.
Another common misconception of graduates and “millennials” is that they can be work-shy, but the focus and dedication needed to truly excel will demonstrate that you’re not afraid to put the hard yards in.
#8 Time Management – All of the above!
By showing that you are capable of being involved in and dedicating time to things outside of your studies, it will display to your employer that you’re capable of managing your time efficiently and effectively.
By juggling your studies, your interests and your social life as well as potentially a part-time job, you’ll show that you were able to achieve your grades without spending every minute of the day on them.
As with any job, employers looking to hire a graduate will be keen to see that you’re capable of managing your daily tasks efficiently, especially as you may be required to take on ad-hoc jobs. By showing them that you juggled a number of activities, they’ll see that you can manage your own time, while also showing that you’re a well-rounded candidate.