I hope you all had a wonderful experience at the BU Career Fair on Wednesday. Selling yourself to recruiters can be daunting, and I think there can be a general tendency to put great emphasis on how your major has prepared you for a specific job or profession. As you reflect on your Career Fair experience, I want to offer a more general, holistic perspective on how your whole college education has prepared you to enter the workforce. As you take next steps and contact recruiters, don’t forget the following skills that you’ve acquired while at BU!
No matter what job you’re looking to get after graduation, your future employer is undoubtedly seeking applicants who are capable of big picture thinking, analysis, and problem solving. The good news is that critical thinking skills is one of the core competencies that students gain from the kind of liberal arts education offered at BU. You might have hated that philosophy course that you took to fulfill your humanities requirement, but I guarantee that you came out of it learning to consider multiply sides of an issue and to critically analyze the opinions and arguments of others. The same kinds of skills are acquired when you have to examine multiple texts in a writing course or synthesize beliefs from across cultures in a World Religions course. You might not think to emphasize these experiences because they don’t directly relate to you major, but employers are looking for critical thinkers so don’t short change yourself when you follow up with them.
Aren’t group projects fun? Yes, I know that they’re usually not, but they do serve an important purpose: developing your interpersonal skills. A huge part of any job is learning how to work cordially with other people, lending support when needed, and integrating into a team. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to employers that you’re a pleasant person who knows how to work well with others, and you have lots of examples to demonstrate this through your coursework at BU. A concrete example of how you took the lead in a difficult team dynamic is both comforting and impressive to recruiters, and odds are that your general education at BU has given you multiple examples to work with.
Even if you study in the hard sciences, you’ve surely had to write a number of papers during your time at BU (those pesky distribution requirements!). In just about any job description ever written, there is some mention of the candidate having to possess “excellent writing skills.” As you reflect on your Career Fair experience and reach out to recruiters in order to thank them for the conversation, don’t miss the opportunity to demonstrate that you’ve been trained to write impeccably.
The skills I’ve mentioned above are known as “soft skills” and they often get left to the wayside as you try to connect your experience in your major to your qualifications for an internship or job. While your major experience is undoubtedly important, don’t forget that the skills that you’ve developed on your academic journey here at BU are also invaluable to employers!
Sarah Farkas blogs for Advice from the Other Side from the BU Educational Resource Center (ERC).