Build Career Competencies
While getting to know yourself and researching industries and professions are both very important parts of career development, it’s crucial that you seek out experiences in and out of the classroom that help you to explore, as well as build skills that will help make you career-ready.
The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), through a task force of career services and HR professionals, has identified eight competencies with career readiness below. Consider how you have, are currently, or will take action to develop these competencies in order to explore further and become career-ready—regardless of which profession you pursue.
- Critical thinking/problem solving: Exercise sound reasoning to analyze issues, make decisions, and overcome problems.
- Leadership: Leverage the strengths of others to achieve common goals and use interpersonal skills to coach and develop others.
- Oral/written communication: Articulate ideas effectively in written and oral forms to persons inside and outside of the organization.
- Career management: Identify and articulate one’s skills, strengths, knowledge, and experiences relevant to the position desired and career goals, and identify areas necessary for growth.
- Teamwork/collaboration: Build collaborative relationships with colleagues and customers representing diverse cultures, races, ages, genders, religions, lifestyles, and viewpoints.
- Global intercultural fluency: Value, respect, and learn from diverse cultures, races, ages, genders, sexual orientations, and religions.
- Digital technology: Leverage existing digital technologies ethically, and efficiently to solve problems, complete tasks, and accomplish goals.
- Professionalism/work ethic: Demonstrate integrity, act with the interest of the larger community in mind, and be able to learn from mistakes.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Which career competencies am I currently developing through my classes and activities (in and out of the classroom)?
- Which competencies would I like to develop further and how can I take action to do that?
- Have I discussed my resume and competency development with a career educator and/or trusted adviser?
Career Planning Myths
Myth: I have no relevant experience—therefore I don’t have a chance at getting the job or internship I want.
Reality: What employers seek are the above career readiness competencies that can be gained from a variety of experiences in and out of the classroom.
Myth: I shouldn’t choose anything I could fail at doing.
Reality: Failure is a learning experience that helps you grow as a person and a professional.
The following suggestions are some ways to gain hands-on experience and build important competencies employers will be looking for, as well as further your exploratory efforts. Meet with a career educator to talk about what they mean for you and your career development process.
Intern and/or Pursue Research
Gaining out-of-the-classroom experience is crucial during your time in college, but it doesn't necessarily have to be a formal internship or research position. Browse through Handshake for internship postings to familiarize yourself with what’s out there and know what you’ll need to be competitive, either now or in the future. For more information visit the Career Center website.
Consider proactively reaching out to places/employers of interest, perhaps in your hometown, to ask if they would consider taking an intern or if you could assist on a short-term project—even if they haven’t posted a position. It doesn’t hurt to ask! If you don’t land your “dream internship” right away, don’t fret—any opportunity will help you start building your resume, skills, and network so that you’re more prepared moving forward.
If you’re specifically interested in on-campus research it can help to connect directly with faculty you would like to work with, and also connect with the Undergraduate Research Office.
Teach Yourself Something
Have you always wanted to become a better public speaker or learn Photoshop? When you have free time, such as over the summer or on breaks, think about completing an online course (many are free!), take some time to teach yourself a new skill and/or work on a personal project.
Community service is not only a good thing to do for our society, but can also be a great way to build skills like leadership, teamwork, communication and more—all of which look great on a resume. You could also consider how to turn a volunteering experience into something more relevant to your long-term interests. For instance, if you’ve volunteered at a local animal shelter but are interested in marketing, why not ask if you could help take photos for their social media page, or help publicize an event?
Consider connecting with the Rochester Center for Community Leadership for assistance with finding community engaged learning opportunities.
Get an On- or Off-Campus Job
Working as a RA, Meridian, or a retail job may not seem directly “career related,” but in reality, many jobs help build the career competencies and transferable skills seek. Check out posted positions on campus in JobLink through Blackboard and contact the Student Employment Office for questions. You can also work with a Peer Career Advisor here at the Career Center during drop-in hours for advice on finding opportunities and resume assistance.
Participating in extra-curricular activities allows you to explore a variety of interests, and build important skills such as leadership, communication, teamwork and more. Check out the Campus Community Connection (CCC) website for lists of clubs and organizations on campus. You can also connect with Wilson Commons Student Activities for upcoming events and services to help you get involved.
Explore and build competencies through the Rochester curriculum
Be curious by taking a variety of courses and conducting research on what is available to you through the Rochester curriculum. Think about what skills or competencies you would like to develop through your coursework, whether within or outside you major and through the clusters you choose. Challenge yourself to try new things!
“By making choices we learn to profit from our mistakes. Waiting for the perfect choice is to miss it all.”
Choices and Challenge: Charting your Career Path (Alexandra Stoddard)