One of the main reasons for pursuing a degree is to widen career opportunities. While doing well for your assignments and acing exams at university are important, students should not miss out on developing their soft skills in the process.
Soft skills are abilities relating to how you work and interact with other people. Some of the common soft skills include good communication skills, critical thinking skills and effective time management. These transferable qualities are what your future bosses and colleagues will be looking forward to because they are hard to teach and can significantly impact individual and team performance long-term.
Here are some of the most important soft skills for students to develop or sharpen further at university:
1. Financial Management
In a way, student life is similar to living as a work professional: you have to manage your money prudently to pay for rent, food, leisure activities and keeping some money aside for rainy days. Or if you are given a role in a varsity club to handle money, it is all the more important to design a system where it is easy to keep track of what comes in and what goes out for the purpose of transparency. This demonstrates financial self-control in addition to projecting your trustworthiness and accountability to whatever you are being assigned to.
2. Critical Thinking Skills
Apart from tackling tricky assignment questions, university students will be facing other types of challenges that will promote problem-solving skills. Assessing the situation and later drawing out an action plan is among the soft skills that are prioritised by job interviewers. For example, participating in inter-varsity competitions where you have to look at the problem from a different angle and think outside the box for innovative solutions.
3. Good Communication Skills
Everybody is different and inevitably, each of us has our own communication style. Group assignments encourage students to work with others who have different personalities and skills. This scenario also creates an opportunity to develop good conflict management as conflicts are part of life. After graduating, you will come out as a communicator who not only can speak cohesively and with clarity, but also an overall approachable individual who is open-minded, a good listener and confident in decision-making. More often than not, employers are willing to hire such candidates even if they do not meet every skill requirement on the job advertisement.
4. Effective Time Management
Studies, extra-curricular activities, personal time with friends and family — these have their own place and time. Time management is about managing the time you are given by accepting that some things require more time than others. It is easy to fall into a habit where we think we can squeeze everything in a short amount of time. Although being fast is highly looked upon by society, so is the quality of your work. What is worse than not being on time is producing a work that is rushed and has less substance.
Soft skills are just as important as possessing the technical know-how from your degree programme. If you want to develop soft skills to make yourself highly employable, talk to INTI’s career and education counsellors today.