Most would agree that an important reason for getting a college degree is to be able to get a job. While there are specific tasks associated with a specific role or career, the most important elements of getting your first job are transferable skills which form a set of basic qualifications that are common to virtually all work positions.
Employers are surveyed regularly as to what they need from the people they hire. Here is the list compiled by Susan Adams of the Forbes.com staff:
1. Ability to work in a team
2. Ability to make decisions and solve problems
3. Ability to plan, organize and prioritize work
4. Ability to communicate verbally with people inside and outside an organization
5. Ability to obtain and process information
6. Ability to analyze quantitative data
7. Technical knowledge related to the job
8. Proficiency with computer software programs
9. Ability to create and/or edit written reports
10. Ability to sell and influence others
You could build on these 10 by adding those based on an article by Nicholas Lemann in Chronicle of Higher Education:
What Graduates Should Know
A. Rigorous interpretation of meaning from reading books.
B. Basic math including an understanding of statistics.
C. Recognition of pattern, context and the relationships among the elements
D. Developing, stating and defending an argument orally and in writing
E. Visual and spatial grammar and logic
F. Understanding how information is produced, how to locate it, how to verify it, how much faith to put in it
G. Understanding other peoples and cultures
H. Learning to explore the relationship between cause and effect; be able to draw inferences from them.
Each of these skills is obtained from coursework, regardless of what the subject is. As an example, consider C. Recognition of pattern, context and the relationship among the elements. You can learn patterns of behavior in psychology or history, patterns of numbers in math or chemistry. The more facts and ideas you are exposed to, the easier it becomes to recognize patterns and to use them to make inferences about future behavior or states.
Lets further assume that after one or two courses you are ready to make inferences based on previous knowledge. You are asked to make a prediction about the stability of a new element or the stability of the Chinese government. You recognize patterns in the material given, make a prediction and then begin to write out an argument in a paper.
Later, when you have a job interview and you are asked about your ability to solve problems, you can talk confidently about the stability question, your analysis and the paper you wrote detailing your solution.
Now that you understand how employers evaluate your college credentials, you can be comfortable choosing to study something you love, solve a problem in your community or explore subjects that lead in a specific direction.
The skills you developed, not the title of your major, will get you the first job.
Lets spend an hour reviewing your interests and how to turn them into a degree and a career. Stephanie@accessguidance.com or 610-212-6679