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11 skills every graduate MUST develop

Last updated on: August 23, 2011 16:13 IST

Image: Assess your resources

Career counsellor Vishal Badani suggests eleven important skills that young grads must work on through their college lives for better prospects in the job market... and in life.

Your education is your investment. The world's been studying, learning, competing, and trying to prove. Are you doing the right things rightly?

Here is a list of 11 skills that you must be attentive towards which can take you a long way after your education.

1. Assess your resources

Self-assessment and subsequent learning out of the findings, is the strongest ability one can posses.

All of us have shortcomings. Some may be effective speakers, someone's knowledge of a specific subject may be excellent while some could be good at coming up with solutions.

Ensure that you pen down your strengths and weaknesses. The starting point should be to define your skills, values and personal traits.

You must work towards effectively using and improving your strengths. Most importantly, it's the weaknesses that must be targeted and effective solutions to these must be sought while studying.

You will have enough opportunities to benchmark the positive aspects of others in your class and work towards achieving similar for yourself.

Candidly discussing your downsides with your teachers / lecturers is the best method of self-assessment.

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2. Organisational skills, planning skills and time management

Image: The more your practise, the better you will get at it.

Write down important points.

Memorising everything will be like fooling yourself. Organise your notes and keep your to-do list handy always. Finish your tasks timely and never allow them to pile on.

Effective management needs timeliness. Be it any course from management to engineering, or from fashion design to directing films, deadlines are the key to all successes.

Avoid procrastination. Planning about how you wish to go about finishing your tasks and learning the course curriculum is important.

You do not want to leave the important in the end and finish the lesser important tasks first up.

Organisation, planning and time management are an on-going process. The more your practise, the better you will get at it.

Check out the examples of those who do it better than you in the class. If you are not good at it, simply copy them, ask them without hesitating, and then start innovating.

These skills will go a long way in determining whether you will end up being a follower or a leader sometime in the future

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3. Information management

Image: Organise your information time and again. Discard the useless.
Manage your information resources correctly.

They will be handy even after you finish your course.

Studying a course does not mean you have definite answers to being successful. It means to learn that knowledge and those practices that help you troubleshoot complex circumstances in the future.

Your course will be over in a year or two, but your life trajectory depends on how you use the information that you have acquired while studying that course, within the social systems then available.

The current world is about information it involves gathering, analysing, evaluating, dissecting and discarding what's not required and potentially using it to your benefits.

Organise your information time and again. Discard the useless.

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4. Define your aims and goals

Image: Defining your short (immediate), medium and long-term goals is essential
Defining your short (immediate), medium and long-term goals is essential.

The thumb rule is that your future plans will change but only for the better. If your immediate goals are clear, you have already started to work towards your immediate career after your course.

A five year horizon is a significant forecast and you should know what you are targeting for the next five years at least. Imagine spending some years of your life, efforts and money, and you are not aware why are you pursuing your studies!

Your aims are your smaller channels and targets that will help achieve the final goals.You must keep re-assessing the set aims every two months or even quarterly and if required, re-frame your action plans.

It helps in understanding if you are on the right track and whether your estimations are realistic. It will also help you target those opportunities during the course that match your interests and talents.

A good practise would be to pick on regular feedback from your teachers / lecturers and your colleagues. Goal-directed preparation and targeted feedback can prove to be your saviour if something was going wrong and undetected. However, care should be taken that you select the correct recommenders; otherwise negative opinions can often times hamper your thought process. The key here is to select 'right samples'

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5. Implementation of skills

Image: whatever you have learnt must be put in to practise
Ultimately, whatever you have learnt must be put in to practise.

Enjoy practicing and using the knowledge whenever you get opportunities.

Your next stage of learning depends on whether you have understood the previous lectures correctly.

Learning how and when to implement is what will take you a long way further in your career.

Do not be afraid of making mistakes. Initial failures help.

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6. Improve your networking skills

Image: Make as many friends. Interact with them.
I have always believed that it requires one reference letter or one hand to catch that quickens the pace of your progress, even legitimately.

Never lose networking opportunities. It enhances learning and bridges the gap between your present and your future.

Socialise more, if time permits.

Good listening skills are integral towards enhancement of networking skills. Make as many friends. Interact with them.

Meet as many lecturers and literally talk through their knowledge. If you get any opportunity, never miss out on a chance to interview or interact with an influential personality. For all your know, several of you may get together to build a successful enterprise in the future

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7. Improve communication and interaction skills

Image: Your approach is the key
Much depends on how to behave, act, talk, share and gain.

Your approach is the key. These skills are integral if you must become an effective presenter. Paint your thoughts and present them correctly.

Pick on others' language skills. Your interaction with your lecturers is the key. Really, this is the real reason that you are studying at a specific Institution since lecturers and the lecture delivery make up an Institution.

Never hesitate to ask your doubts. You can also start doing this in person if you are afraid of asking in front of the class. Over time, you will be able to put forth your thoughts and the reasoning to many.

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8. Improve people-management skills and team work

Image: Projects will always become successful if the entire team is productive
Working in teams is what organisations are about. Companies want people who work in teams, while those who also can be productive individually.

A good leader requires good team members and whether you wish to run your own business or work in any small or large organisation in the future, projects will always become successful if the entire team is productive.

Learning to work within teams also boosts your interpersonal capabilities like communicating effectively, making effective presentations in public, managing and saving time, motivating others or being motivated, managing change, and above all, learning how to lead and inspire others.

The productivity of a team, if all work towards the goals, can multiply fourfold as against what an individual could have achieved.

The success of any organisation has never been attached to only automaticity but it relies on its talent pool. It's the people who run the show and you are just about to become a part of a small or a large team sooner.

Managing people, involving different kinds of human behaviour, is the biggest challenge and you better want to start learning these early if there was any chance you wish to lead in the future.

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9. Importance of computing knowledge

Image: Computing skills are important
This may sound less important when you consider the other points, but to many it is disturbing to believe that computing knowledge in this world can make or break your career.

In the current age, if you are not a good internet user or lack skills in using the basic computing skills, you may lag behind others, for it would have otherwise saved you enormous time, efforts, money in the longer-run.

With social networking becoming one of the biggest markets in the world, you are bound to be left behind if you do not connect with other like-minded individuals and organisations. Ensure, if nothing else, you are aware of how to efficiently use the internet and emails, and possess some hands-on experience in using word, spreadsheets and power point presentations.

Possibly, if you can socially network on sites like Rediff, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, there may be enormous knowledge and opportunities you can explore that are waiting for you in the future as you grow.

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10. Factor learning / Technical knowledge

Image: Do every bit in your ability to score on your subject
That's what you have joined a course for, isn't it?

Ordering for a sandwich in a cake shop is probably the worst mistake that you can make. Your subject knowledge is 'the quintessential'. Your aspirations are based on the subject knowledge and you must do about everything to ensure that you achieve the necessary mastery in what I remark as your 'factor learning'.

Without the fundamental knowledge, all your decisions in the future will never have factual results.

And employers are smart. They want smart learners and thorough knowledge-bearers.

Make sure you raise your questions timely if you did not understand.

Do every bit in your ability to score on your subject personally, if not in terms of your marks. Remember, when you join a Company or start your own work, performance is the key and within 3 to 6 months, either you or your future employer is bound to understand how good you were for the job in hand or assigned to you.

Excelling is solely in your hands.

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11. Build your resume and your projects

Image: Marketing yourself to your employers is the first means to your future
Marketing yourself to your employers is the first means to your future and it all starts with your resume.

This is true whether you are eyeing your desired job or planning to borrow funds for your venture. A resume should essentially reflect 'you' as a summary.

Never mind sharing any points about you that may seem advantageous.Clearly state your objectives or goals, your academic history and qualifications, your roles and responsibilities if you have previous worked, your achievements, your prominent interests, information on your participations in any activities and any other abilities that you have self-assessed.

Working on your resume from time to time is important and you must keep building it timely.

If you have undertaken any key projects or made project reports individually or as a team member, readying them in advance will always help. It also allows you to revaluate your work. If your target job is in mind and you have worked on something similar in the past or during the course, your employer may just be delighted to see your work. Updating your project records is what you must do.

By doing this you are developing your tools to market yourself to your potential employers. Keeping an eye on the activities of your shortlisted employers' work will additionally help. Stay alert and healthy!

Vishal Badani, an MBA, with Consultancy Management as his specialisation, has been working as an education counsellor since 2002. He has counselled students for all kinds of educational programs and been successful in placing students in leading foreign Universities. He is passionate about guiding students in finding their best fit careers in India / abroad and enjoys writing.