Over the past few months, I have been giving a lot of thought to what the job market may look like when my children are young adults. They have been asking me a lot of questions and have even written inquiry letters to friends and/or companies in their fields of interest. Granted, they are young yet … but I strongly believe it is never to early to begin thinking of college and the possibilities of their career options.
Every few years it seems the job market changes and the educational market changes along with it. As the new hot career comes up, there is always a degree or program to go with it. However, there are essential skills that every student, graduate, and job candidate needs to have to give him or her the best chance at landing a job. This is true of homeschoolers as much as it is for those who attend traditional schools. I have thereby gathered a list of ten must-haves every student should be thinking about during their studies.
- Job Experience – It doesn’t matter what sort of job you have, just have one. Students with shining academic careers can make a good impression, but your future boss probably doesn’t want to be your first. Even if is a minimum wage job, it can still teach you valuable skills you will need in a professional setting. Which brings us to:
- Relevant Experience – If you can get a job in the industry you would like to work in while studying, do it. Even unpaid internships can give you valuable experience as well as demonstrate how committed you are to your career.
- Writing – You don’t have to be an English major to need to learn how to write. Everything from your resume to inter-office memos will be closely scrutinized for errors, so be sure you know how to communicate in written form, as well as:
- Verbal Communications – As a student, you enjoy the freedom to tell someone that something “sucks.” In the world of the professional, that statement can be a land mine. Learning to say that something “needs improvement” or has “opportunity for growth” and other white collar lingo can keep you from looking like an amateur.
- Public Speaking – Almost everyone hates it, but almost everyone will have to do it eventually. Whether giving a huge presentation at work or being interviewed by a number of people, public speaking comes up more than you think it does, so grab this class or a related, such as debate or acting, to get the most out of your electives.
- Technology – It goes without saying that this generation of students is the most tech savvy ever. Be sure and utilize all the technology you can while you can. While the basics like Microsoft Office are required just about everywhere, having a knowledge of computer security, HTML, and other tech practices can truly help you stand out.
- Finance – You don’t necessarily have to know how to pick stocks, but you do have to know how to manage money. Even entry level positions have to make requests to the higher ups for things like office supplies, new equipment, etc. Having a knowledge of how much these items cost, if they are feasible, and anything related to the budget can help in any career.
- Criticism – Why not take a workshop type class such as creative writing to help you learn the valuable lesson of criticism? Whether it is being heaped on you or from you, learning how to effectively criticize and be criticized can help you not only advance in a career but keep you from losing your temper if it is ever leveled at you at work.
- Networking – It can be a huge pain, but making the time to socialize – and not just through Facebook – can really pay off. Not only can it introduce you to future contacts, but it can also help you make friends, connect you to people with the same interests, and prepare you for the professional world.
- Research – Don’t know how to do something? You’ve probably spent lots of time on Google and other sites looking up tons of stuff. These principles can help you in any job and/or problem within the job. Even if it is just how to fix a broken printer, having the right research at the right time can help you stand out.