I was reading an interesting article today entitled “It Takes More than a Major: Employer Priorities for College Learning and Student Success: Overview and Key Findings.” I will highlight a few of their findings, but first, I would like to reflect upon this idea that “it takes more than a major” to succeed in the workplace. Although I do think that classes and traditional education is necessary and very important, I think that experience is just as important as a degree. And I don’t just mean related experience. I have been working since I was 16 and I learned a lot of critical skills during that time. Even though my first few jobs were just lifeguarding positions, I learned responsibility, problem-solving, leadership, and communication. I was not only held responsible for being on time to my shifts and completing assigned duties, I was responsible for people’s lives. I realized that this is a very big responsibility, especially when I had my first rescue. Then after learning these skills and taking on leadership roles, I was promoted to Aquatics Supervisor. Learning how to lead effectively is an essential skill in the workforce. In short, these jobs that were not related to my major still gave me great experience and helped me to build my skills and resume.
But, I also did acquire jobs that were related to my field, such as this internship and my internship over the summer, where I was a Marketing and Communications intern at YWCA Greater Cleveland. In these internships, I did many valuable real-world things, such writing news stories, interviewing, designing brochures and pamphlets, assisting in the creation of a social media strategy plan, taking photos at events, increasing social media reach, blogging, and more. I think that these experiences are priceless for a future job.
In the article that I mentioned earlier, it said that skills that enable college graduates to contribute to innovation in the workplace is essential. These skills likely come from previous real-world jobs and experience. Below are some key features that employers look for in job candidates and most of these skills would most likely come from experience:
- Nearly all those surveyed (93 percent) say that “a demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than [a candidate’s] undergraduate major.”
- More than 9 in 10 of those surveyed say it is important that those they hire demonstrate ethical judgment and integrity; intercultural skills; and the capacity for continued new learning.
- More than 75% of employers say they want more emphasis on 5 key areas including: critical thinking, complex problem-solving, written and oral communication, and applied knowledge in real-world settings.
Although a formal education and a college degree are very important for a career, learning in a classroom about theories and definitions can only get you so far. Although it is possible to excel in the workforce without experience, I feel that the transition would be much, much easier with experience under your belt.
Thanks for reading,
Source: It Takes More than a Major: Employer Priorities for College Learning and Student Success. 2013. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges and Universities and Hart Research Associates.