Just like it’s important to identify which special interests you may want to incorporate into your work, it’s equally important to consider which skills you might want to use.
There are numerous skill assessments that exist, some of which may be available for you to take, (sometimes at no cost), at your campus career center. You can also assess your skills informally by asking yourself questions like, “What do I know?” and “What can I do?” Answers to “What do I know?” are sometimes called Knowledge Skills or Hard Skills. These are skills that you learn from a particular context, such as classes for your major, and apply within the same or very similar contexts. For example, as a biology major, you may learn the western blot analytical technique; it’s a skill often needed within the biological sciences, but not one you would use outside of that context. Answers to “What can I do?” are often called Transferable Skills – you learn them in one context but can easily, and appropriately, use them in multiple other contexts. For example, you are likely learning how to analyze complex issues from a variety of perspectives. This same problem solving skill can be put to use whether in the classroom, in intramural involvements, volunteer activities, or work settings.
While you’re identifying the your skills and determining which ones you want to use in your work, also take note of which ones you don’t want to use. Although you may excel at certain skills, don’t assume that those are skills you necessarily need to use directly in a work setting. For example, you may be a skilled sketch artist, but you may or may not want to incorporate that in your paid work. Also take note of which skills you need to improve. For example, you may want to use your analytical and research skills, but don’t want to use public speaking skills, and need to work on your written communication. Your list is bound to be more in depth than this example and it can grow and change over time. The idea is to arm yourself with information about YOU so that as you explore different career fields and job opportunities, you can view them with an eye toward how well they suit you. Of course, few people find jobs that are an exact match to everything they are looking for, but knowing which skills you want to use in the workplace, and knowing yourself in general, can help you make informed career decisions.
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