What did You Learn at College?

What did you learn at college – in addition to the subjects you were studying? You might be surprised at the list of useful, transferable skills you picked up during your student days.

But before we get to that, make a list of the skills involved in your core subjects. And the knowledge you learned, which could be helpful for many jobs. So, for example, I studied languages and learned how to speak, write and understand Chinese, improved my spoken and written German and gained knowledge about both German and Chinese literature. Take a look at the type of job in which this knowledge would be useful.

Now think about what else you learned, starting with studying itself. Writing reports, essays, giving presentation, writing your thesis all involved a load of communication skills. All that knowledge is no use if you can’t communicate it or in it, in the case of languages.

List every form of communication you used as a student – other examples might include interviewing people, creating videos or taking part in group projects. Then note the skills developed – speaking to a group, organizing a team, gathering information and presenting it in a specific format.

Did you realize that communication skills are amongst the most highly sought after skills for many employers? When you make your list, write an example so that you can prove you’ve actually got the skill. This is key when it comes to writing a CV or resume. Writing a list of skills just doesn’t cut it – you have to prove that you can use them and you do that by giving examples.

Gain a New Skill

Would you like to gain a new skill? Looking for a new job can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you aren’t sure what you’d like to do. But you can take a first step towards your goal by gaining a new skill now.

Take some time to consider what you would like to do and the major skills related to your ideal new career. This can help you to become more proficient in your present job, boost your confidence and increase your chances of promotion or getting hired by another company.

How to Gain a New Skill

There are many ways in which you can learn new skills, including in house training with your current employer, professional training at college or university, evening classes at your local community college

Or distance learning in the form of online courses, which can be anything from short courses in it skills to an online degree or postgraduate qualification.

Evening classes are a good option if you want a change of scene and the chance to interact with the teacher and other students and it can also be a good way to make new friends with similar interests.

However, it can be difficult to make a commitment to go to class every week for a full academic year or more, especially when the dark nights and snow and rain kick in.

However, online learning is now a great option if you want to gain a new skill at home and in your own time. With the introduction of audio and video, it is possible to study many subjects which would have been difficult in the past, for example learning a foreign language.

In fact it is also possible to have lessons via the internet, using Skype, which means you can work with a native speaker in just about any part of the world with no phone costs.

So you can listen to audios online to get the pronunciation right and then test your ability with a native speaker, who can correct you and with whom you can develop your French (Spanish, Chinese or whatever your preferred language ) conversation.

Videos and audios in all subjects are extremely helpful for students who don’t learn well by reading books. In addition, they can provide another tool to help explain difficult concepts in many subjects.

The first step is to decide exactly what you want to do in terms of a career change or new job and then do some research to discover the skills and qualifications which would benefit you best. If you aren’t sure what you want to do, or how to do your background research, take a look at Design Your Ideal Career.

Once you know which direction your professional life is heading in, spend some time getting as much information as you can on the most important skills related to your goals. You can do this by getting application forms – no-one needs to know you won’t actually be filling the form in and sending it off!

The description which comes with the form should give you a comprehensive list of duties and abilities needed for the type of post you are aiming at. If you can, try talking to employers, or people already in positions similar to the one you are working towards. You can do this by by attending open days or job fairs.

You may already know which areas you need to develop – do you need to improve your negotiating skills or perhaps it’s your presentation skills which let you down and are stopping you get the promotion you’d really like.?

Make sure you gain a new skill in demand.


Transferable Skills

Transferable skills are a very important part of your “ammunition” when it comes to looking for a new job or considering training for a new career, but what exactly are “transferable skills”?

Quite simply, they are things you can do in one area of your life which can be used somewhere else.

Do you tell your family the plans for the day, get them to pick things up or persuade them to wash the dishes? Do you make sure they are out of the house on time, or at the table when dinner is served?



Exercise 1

Home Economics

If you have mastered, or even bluffed your way, in the art of house cleaning, you have picked up some heavy-duty skills. There are plenty of professional qualifications out there in subjects like Cleaning and Housekeeping, designed for people planning to clean offices or hospitals, or work in the hospitality industry. But professional cleaning is probably done using exactly the same skills that you use to clean your home.



Exercise 2

If you have kids, or have looked after other people’s children or indeed, big children, sometimes known as adults, check out a few of those sites and get out a pen and paper. You’ll come up with an impressive skillsbase.

A few examples to get you going.

Relationship building
Keeping calm
Staying in control of the situation
Helping kids find their own solutions to problems

Just how many of these would you say were transferable?

By now you should have a list of skills which you can apply to work outside the home.