Career Skills You Need to Learn Before Graduation

Universities are excellent at providing the basic skills that you need to enter a career field. But there may be other career skills that you need to learn in order to both enter and to be successful in your career of choice. We can think of those as auxiliary skills – or even as “soft skills” – but they exist in virtually every career field. You need to be aware of them, and to prepare yourself to embrace them before graduation.

Some typical examples include:

People Skills

There are very few jobs that will enable you to sit in an office or cubicle without substantial interaction with other people. Most jobs today will require a solid level of human contact. In order to manage that, you’ll have to develop certain people skills. At a minimum, this includes the ability to get along with other people, especially coworkers and superiors.

Career Skills You Need to Learn Before Graduation
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If there is a significant amount of customer or client contact, your people skills will have to be even better honed.

Related: Using Linkedin To Network

You can often develop people skills by holding a part-time job while you’re in school. Not only will this expose you to customer contact, but it will also help you to develop the ability to work successfully with others in an organized environment. And taking a public speaking course at school is never a bad idea either.


Even if it isn’t a primary skill requirement in a given career field, these days marketing is everyone’s job! This can be as simple as being able to talk intelligently to customers and clients. It may be your ability to instill confidence in both you and in your organization. At a more technical level, it may involve some knowledge of the overall marketing process of the organization.

Taking a marketing course or two – or even a sales course – can help you gain some comprehension of the skill. If you even suspect that marketing will be a part of your job, embrace that fact and sign-up for a course as soon as you can.

General Computer Applications

It’s hard to imagine any job today that does not require some sort of basic computer knowledge. At a minimum, this will include a working knowledge of the Microsoft Office suite, including Outlook, Word, Excel and Power Point. Also important is the ability to navigate the web, especially in regards to research. The Internet is a storehouse of information, but it’s of little value to you if you don’t understand how to access it.

Spend some of your free time learning these computer applications, especially if you’re little bit weak in any of them.

Career-Specific Computer Applications

This is where you have to do some detailed research. Any career field that you want to go into will have certain industry-specific computer applications. For example, if you’re planning to go into accounting there is a very good chance that you’ll need to develop familiarity with one or more income tax preparation software packages. Though the specific software may be different from one employer to another, being familiar in one of them helps to prepare you to work with any of them.

It can often be difficult and expensive to learn industry-specific software, but you may be able to do this through an internship – paid or unpaid – or even by doing part-time or seasonal work in the industry. Understanding of a specific software can be a real door opener when it comes to landing your first career type job.

Time Management

Time management tends to change pretty drastically when you transition from university to the workplace. This is because time has a price tag in a job. You not only have to manage it from the standpoint of punctuality, but also profitability.

Essentially this means developing the ability to concentrate your time working in the most productive areas, while minimizing the amount of time you spend in less productive ones. That is part art and part science, but there are ways that you can learn it before starting your first job.

Do some research on the web relating to time management. There are different strategies and theories, and even some that are industry-specific. These can help to give you some sort of an advanced idea not only of the mechanics of efficient time management, but it can also cement in your mind why it’s so important in the business world.

Related: Time Management and the Pareto Principle

Research Skills and Career-Specific Sources

In every industry or career field there are certain common research resources that you should be aware of. By knowing what these resources are, you will not only know where to go to get the information you need when you’re working in your career field, but you may also be able to impress a would-be employer on a job interview.

I had a professor who said that if you don’t know the answer to a question in a job interview, the next best answer is I don’t know the answer, but I know where to find it. If you know of industry-specific research resources, you will be able to say that with confidence.

Keeping Yourself Motivated

Self-motivation is not a skill an employer will generally ask you to demonstrate (unless you are applying for a sales position) but it is one you’ll need throughout your career. Staying motivated is a skill that you can learn – and the better that you are at it, the more successful you’ll be in your career.

We’re all motivated by different factors – find what motivates you and focus on it. Though it can be exciting to enter a new career field, dealing with the daily grind that comes after can wear you down and wear you out. Keeping yourself motivated will become an important part of finding both success and satisfaction in the work that you do.

Related: 25 Motivational Quotes for Students

Locate online sources, networks, motivational speakers, friends or mentors who can help you stay motivated throughout your career. Eventually you’ll absorb the skills, and be able to largely do it on your own.

Career success is not always so much about a good start as it is about a consistent follow-through. Having motivational skills will enable you to do that. The motivation that you have will be reflected in everything you do – and others will notice it.

Have you begun considering necessary career skills – beyond those that are taught within your university curriculum?

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