SKILLS TO SUCCEED AFTER SCHOOL
A review of the skills you will need to master if you want to set yourself up for success after finishing school.
In school we develop some basic academic skills like reading or writing that are essential for high job performance in any environment, but there are also a set of life skills we will need to develop in order to maximize our success opportunities. These are equally important to enhance your post school pursuits but sadly they are not always included in our school education (at least not explicitly!).
Whatever your plan is after school (going to university, getting a job, volunteering,…), if you start working on these abilities today you will not only be building a path for after school success, but you will also be developing valuable resources to apply in your current academic and social life.
We use math skills on a daily basis and most times in our heads, which is a fantastic and very useful ability for everyday situations like estimating the time that will take us to get to a certain place or adding up costs at the supermarket.
These are basic skills but not enough to guarantee success. You will also need to apply and understand some basic accounting concepts that will help you manage your budget, don’t over spend or paying your taxes on time, for example. Some basic statistic knowledge will also be necessary when it comes to making important decisions in any environment.
Relationships matter, in both our personal and work life, this is why knowing how to make strong and genuine connections with others (peers, professors, supervisors) will be so important to achieve success.
This is a critical skill, especially in the world we live today. From a professional perspective, learning how to build and maintain strong relationships with others around you will help you find and secure employment opportunities, obtain guidance and stay updated with the new developments in your work field. In your personal life, it will give you a strong support system that you can rely on when it comes to dealing with work or academic related issues, or when your closest friends and family are not around.
In order to be successful you will need to develop efficient ways to communicate your thoughts, feelings and ideas to others in a clear and logical way through both spoken and written words.
Communication, of course, also involves the ability of listening to others, but contrary to what most people believe listening is not a passive action. It requires concentration, interest in the topic, the ability to collect the most important information and provide appropriate feedback.
Good communication skills will also help you be a good leader, build strong relationships, negotiate with potential customers or partners or persuade others when necessary.
Getting a job after school is one of the greatest concerns for last year students. While some are lucky enough to find a good job right after finishing school, others find it to be a very frustrating process. Why is that?
The short answer is that schools don’t always focus on developing “soft skills”, the personal traits that are necessary for getting, keeping and doing well at work; instead, they direct all the attention to technical knowledge and abilities, or as others would call them “hard skills”.
These are essential too, but there are many employers out there willing to provide specialized training to candidates who may not have all the technical and academic knowledge but have proven to have certain personality traits and interpersonal qualities that will make them more desirable for the job.
The most important “soft skills” will depend on the specific job or career you choose. However, some of the most wanted are: good work habits, personal- social skills, good communication, reliability, ability to cope with uncertainty, amongst others.
Although we tend to think about solving problems as something closely related to math or physics, this is not always the case. Whether as students or as employees there will be cases in everyday life in which you will have to find a solution for which there are no designated formulas and a pinch of creativity and critical thinking will become necessary.
Effective problem solvers can analyze problems from different perspectives, detect the available resources, identify potential solutions and choose the best alternative available.
Time management helps us optimise our performance and boost our productivity, which are key aspects of success in both academic and work related environments in which busy schedules will be part of your everyday life and 24 hours will seem like not enough time to deal with the workload.
If you want to be a time management and productivity expert you will have to set goals, learn to prioritise, create realistic schedules and stick to them. Don’t forget to include some free time periods as well!
Fortunately there are plenty of time management resources you can use like daily planners, calendars or one of the many productivity apps available.