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4 Skills to Master Before Graduation

Picture of an Afro college student looks happy while showing thumbs up in the classroom

The first year of college is typically filled with new friends, fun, and freedom, but somewhere in sophomore year, reality sets in and you can start seeing the goal at the end of the tunnel. And it can be a little scary. At the end of your college experience, you’re going to have to be employable — like a real, verifiable adult. That means you’re going to have all the skills you need and a competitive edge to set you apart.

So, to make that transition a bit smoother, you might want to master a few of the skills mentioned in the list below. You might think these skills come naturally, but they do require some experience.

Teamwork

You’ve probably heard that teamwork is a skill that most employers want. You’re supposed to be a “team player” whenever you’re working in an office environment. But what does that really mean?

It’s okay to see yourself as an all-star, but you should never forget that most things are a group effort. If they weren’t, your employer would only hire one person. An all-star, right? Everyone in the organization plays a critical role, and it’s also important that everyone can work well together towards a common goal.

To strengthen this skill, consider playing a team sport, volunteering, or, best of all, getting a part-time job. The reason a part-time job is one the best things you can pursue is that it gives you valuable work experience (especially if it’s close in scope to your major), you will gain references, and you get paid! If you’re interested, you can check out some great part-time jobs in the U.S. that are great for college students.

Communication and conflict resolution

If you’re not an effective communicator, there’s a good chance all your hard work is going to go unnoticed. And there may even be a few miscommunications around what needs to be done. Communication is an important skill to have on the job, so you’ll want to work on it before you land your first interview. If you’re concerned, take a course in communications. This should help you deliver a concise message in all mediums.

Leadership

Leadership mostly revolves around teamwork, but there’s definitely more to it. While you’re in college, try to find a leadership position where you can practice your management skills. In this position, it’s also important you find a mentor who can help guide you towards the leadership role that feels right to you.

Public speaking

You won’t necessarily need public speaking skills in your first job out of college, but having this skill in your arsenal can help you communicate your thoughts in meetings and have confidence in your approach when speaking with people. Confidence is extremely important, and even though public speaking is a fear for some, it can actually be quite thrilling and satisfying with some practice.

Consider taking a public speaking elective if you haven’t already mastered this skill. And you may just find that it helps you advance your career later in life. As you may have guessed, being able to speak clearly, authoritatively and persuasively takes a certain amount of confidence. Don’t be afraid to use some tips to help build self-esteem before tackling a major presentation.

In many ways, college will prepare you for your first job. But it’s the practical skills that are often lacking — depending on the courses and extracurricular activities you choose to take.

But if you can master the skills on this list, you’ll be well on your way to acing your first job out of school. This will undoubtedly give you a head start on your career as each new position comes with a new set of opportunities.

For more great college tips, check out the other blogs on College Basics.