Develop your soft skills
Enriching skills outside the classroom
Besides a great academic record, employers are often interested in your ‘soft skills’, which include your communication abilities, people and social skills, emotional intelligence and character traits – in short, how you interact with other people.
Since soft skills are vital to surviving in a competitive hiring environment, here are some handy ways to build your soft skills outside the classroom.
Make a plan
Identify your strengths and weaknesses. For instance, if you have trouble talking to new people, start working on that; if you are unable to express your opinion, work on your communication skills. Create a list of skills you have, need and want, and make a plan accordingly.
Volunteer for non-profit organisations
Volunteering your time for free may not sound appealing to everyone, but assisting a worthy cause helps widen your horizons and broaden your skill set. Volunteering helps you adapt to people who are different from you, build your confidence, and improve your leadership skills– plus the experience will look great on your resume!
Join clubs and societies
Whether you are a freshman or a graduating student, getting involved in clubs and societies is a great opportunity to meet like-minded people and improve your skills in a specific area of interest. Joining clubs will also keep you occupied, thus helping you develop a more structured schedule and focus on your priorities. This also works amazingly for building your time management skills.
Work as an intern
Certain skills can only be learned through experience, and one of the best ways to acquire them is through internships. Whether it’s part time or full time, internships help build workforce skills such as time management, problem-solving, conflict resolution and teamwork.
Participate in workshops and seminars
Many universities and professional organisations run workshops, seminars and other skill-building opportunities for university students at little to no cost.
Participating in these activities can be beneficial in learning new ideas, trying new tools, or sharpening your skills. The interactions can also help you become a better listener, smarter problem solver, and more open- minded to other's opinions.
Practice makes you perfect
For long-term benefits, put your skill to practice. Determination and consistency will help you get better in specific skills. Be it time management, event management or public speaking, put your skills to use often.
Find a mentor
Look for someone who has the same skillset you wish to achieve. Reach out to them to help you in your career. Having a good mentor can make a huge difference to your career as they will be able to guide, motivate and challenge you.
If there is a skill you think is crucial to exceling in your chosen field but you are unable to find the right mentor, take it upon yourself to learn it. Teach and educate yourself! There are abundant resources available to guide you – use the internet, libraries or self-help programmes. Consider taking up free online courses that are available on various platforms.
A friendly advice: While you are at it, do not forget to create a balance between your studies and extracurricular activities. Try to implement these skills in your classroom as well. Effective communication and strategies can help kick-start your career as recruiters are more likely to shortlist students with some experience than none.