22 September 2023
8 Transferable Skills You Learn At University
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.
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?
- Organisation – Society/committee position
- Communication – Bar job/student radio
- Problem solving – Flat sharing
- Entrepreneurship – Business and enterprise
- Written communication – Student news and blogging
- Compassion – Volunteering
- Dedication – Sports
- Time management – All of the above
1) Organisation – Society/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. It helps you learn invaluable organisation skills too.
Society positions can be incredibly variable, as they often involve organising events or fixtures, as well as trips abroad for a surprisingly large group of people.
Of course, by playing a central role in coordinating these, you develop and portray an ability to organise both yourself and others. Employers love seeing this on a CV, as it shows you’re a stellar candidate.
2) Communication – Bar job/student radio
By working at a bar or coffee shop, you’ll learn how to deal with people through your experience of serving customers. Not only will you talk to them in a professional way, you’ll have developed the problem-solving ability to solve any complaints.
Presenting a student radio show is a great way to develop your communication skills too, as it shows you’re able to carry your own and engage an audience of listeners.
Why are communication skills so key in the 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 concerned about a new recruit’s ability to communicate confidently with customers and colleagues.
3) Problem solving – 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. You may be in charge of ensuring bills are paid for the first time in your life too.
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, such as personality clashes.
4) Entrepreneurship – Business and enterprise
By getting involved in business and enterprise societies at university, you get access to all workshops, events and forums, as well as gaining the expertise to start 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 starting 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 to develop your writing skills, allowing you to write about things you’re passionate about in a way that’s engaging and relevant to your audience.
Equally, blogging about something 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 interested 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 coherently 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 giving 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.
Volunteering at university can really demonstrate how you’re willing to go the extra mile as well as showing that you’re adept at understanding and communicating with other people.
7) Dedication – Sports
Were you always at the gym or training pitch at university?
Did you dedicate much of your university life to excelling at your chosen sport?
Not only is sport a great way to make friends and keep fit, it can be a great example of your dedication, focus and ability to sacrifice certain things for a goal, especially if you were successful. Employers go bananas for such activities.
8) Time Management – All of the above
By juggling your studies, your interests and your social life as well as potentially a part-time job, you’ll show employers that you were able to achieve your grades without spending every minute of the day on them. That’s good time management.
As with any job, employers hiring graduates 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.