Career advice for students, Take 1
I remember feeling anxious about starting my first job after graduation. A hundred worries crept in: Do I have enough of the right skills? What will my boss be like? What if I don’t like the job? So many unknowns on Day 1.
My first job was at a publishing company. True story – one of my first official assignments came as the member of an editorial team on a small unknown publication called “Packer Profiles.” In it, we featured stories about Green Bay Packers, past and present. I was a star-struck fan, and incredibly nervous about interviewing players, especially current ones. I never imagined myself the sideline-reporter type. I had to make a lot of uncomfortable phone calls – What publication is this for? Who are you again? – and write about a topic with which I had marginal experience.
My training hadn’t quite prepared me for this.
Ultimately, that’s the stuff that tests your mettle. You can’t be prepared for everything. But if anything became clear to me early on, it was that you learn more in a holistic way outside the classroom. I received excellent technical training, but putting that into practice meant tapping into a few other skills I didn’t know I had.
With this in mind, I asked my colleagues to share their best advice for college students getting ready to enter the workforce. Here’s what they had to say:
“Find a good mentor and listen to them carefully. Plus, learn an additive skill, one that will enhance your professional skills but may not be something everyone would expect you to know.” – Kathy Flanders, Senior Electrical Designer
“Writing well and concisely will be one of the most important skills you can hone during your college years. Expand your vocabulary and begin immersing yourself in the terminology and nomenclature that accompanies your studies and potential career choice. Be prepared to communicate in complete sentences and paragraphs during your college years, and afterwards. Whether you’re pursuing a degree in biology, engineering, architecture, marketing, or liberal arts, writing will be used on daily basis as you progress toward your chosen avocation.” – Kim Shannon, Environmental Scientist
“You’ve spent most of your life learning, and you’ve learned a lot. When you enter the working world you will only be using a small percentage of what you learned, and you don’t know what that subject may be, so be prepared to keep learning. Also, be prepared for an 8 to 9 hour work day. Be prepared to communicate face-to-face with a wide range of people of different ages and personalities.” – Lew Kollmansberger, Senior Project Manager
“Learn how to work with people. Consulting is a people business. We help people solve problems that are technical by working with residents, government entities, and other interested parties to come up with the right solution. Understanding your strengths and weaknesses working with others is crucial toward your career growth and is not taught in school. Unlike a math problem there is no solution to the people problem. You can always learn technical items and you will need to throughout your career as they evolve. Learn how to learn rather than memorize. Be creative, try something new, take a chance!” – Ben Dzioba, Transportation Engineer
Stay tuned for next week as we share more advice from our team – and happy studies (and have fun!).
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