To succeed as an employee, it's important to be aware of the skills you acquired during your education and how they can be applied in the workplace. This will help you bridge the gap between theory and practice.
Here are ways you can self-guide what you've learned toward supporting real-world, on-the-job success:
- Create a list of skills learned in school and align them with relevant workplace applications. This can help you identify acquired skills that may have been overlooked. If you're not sure where to start, think of it as a mind-mapping experience where you start big - all the things you remember learning and all the skills you are hoping to apply in your role - and then connect the dots.
- Identify how these skills can translate to various aspects of your new role. The findings may surprise you. For example, public speaking and presentations you did in-class can translate to communication skills fundamental to running meetings successfully. Simply having an understanding of what it is you bring to the table will contextualize the value you bring to each aspect of your role, giving you confidence and more self-awareness as an employee while revealing growth opportunity areas. For example, if you're missing a skill, you can seek out a mentor on your team, or elsewhere, who you know to be really good at that 'thing' or acquire these skills through continuous learning programs.
3. Take Initiative to apply what you've learned and seek out ways to expand your knowledge and improve. Don't simply wait for opportunities to come to you! Take the initiative to apply your classroom knowledge whenever you can - this includes seeking feedback, guidance (mentors, colleagues, managers) and maybe, even, courses (see #5). This can demonstrate your value to your employer and help you build your skills and knowledge.
4. Continue learning and stay on top of industry trends. Learning is continuous, and I encourage you to remember that learning doesn't stop when you leave the classroom. It’s important to keep seeking opportunities to learn and grow, both on and off the job. Attend training sessions, read books and articles on your field, participate in professional development activities, seek out support systems (mentors, managers, colleagues, friends) who can teach you what they know, and look for workplace environments that offer financial support or programs to invest in your ongoing professional development.
Final Thoughts: While all of the wonderful skills you’ve picked up while in college/university are great, I think one of most important things you’ve learned is to never give up. The resiliency you’ve developed is exactly what employers are looking for - they want people they can trust to keep going even when things get tough. And I strongly believe that it’s this quality, most of all, that makes it easy for you to apply everything else you’ve learned in school in the workplace!