College Graduation is the Outcome not the end Goal
Graduation should not be your goal in college. Yes, you read that correctly. Rather, graduation should be viewed as the outcome of your hard work, perseverance, and commitment to completing your requirements. The goal in college should be the ability to confidently speak to the knowledge, skills, and experiences you gained while obtaining your degree.
I’m not talking about the “hard skills” or knowledge you gain by taking classes, participating in labs/clinicals, conducting research, and doing presentations. I am talking about taking the opportunities to develop the “soft skills” that convey how you work, and interact with other people, like communication, adaptability, problem-solving, teamwork, and critical thinking (Herrity, 2022). These skills have shown to become increasingly valued by employers over the past several years, as they help to build a productive and sustainable work environment (Sharma, 2021).
However, simply doing the requirements of your degree does not necessarily equate to the development of these skills. In fact, a recent survey found that recent graduates rated themselves much higher than employers on their perceived level of proficiency in soft skill areas-particularly in communication, career and self-development, critical thinking, and professionalism (Staffing Industry Analysts, 2022).
So where is the disconnect? I believe it is that students often focus on getting to graduation rather than utilizing the experience of college to aid in their personal/professional development. Developing soft skills requires commitment, it requires you to have experiences outside of the classroom that challenge and push you to grow such as internships, volunteering/job shadowing, participating in student organizations, taking on leadership positions, and engaging in experiential learning opportunities.
I realize many of our students have additional roles like being a provider, caretaker, partner, parent, that can make participation in these “extras” difficult. However, as a student, you have access to an abundance of FREE resources and support on campus to help you get the opportunities you need to grow, but that also fit your life, this includes:
- The RU-C Career Center not only has regular career/internship/grad school fairs, but also counselors who can work with you 1:1 to find experiences that fit your interests and needs.
- RU-C’s Engage page that highlights campus events and organizations that you can get involved in.
- Your academic advisor, success coach, EOF or TRIO SSS Counselors (if you are a member) are all available to personally guide you toward the right opportunities to help with your personal development.
I encourage you then, as much as you can, to take this time to learn more about who you are and develop yourself personally and professionally with the resources available to you. Not just so you can confidently speak to the skills and knowledge you possess on that job application post-graduation, but so you can look back on your time at Rutgers-Camden and truly feel you made the most of your experience.
Birt, J. (2018, September 2). Hard skills vs. soft skills: What’s the difference? indeed. Retrieved October 11, 2022, from https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/resumes-coverletters/hard-skills-vs-soft-skills
Herrity, J. (2018, August 30). Soft skills: Definitions and top examples | indeed.com. indeed. Retrieved October 10, 2022, from https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/resumes-coverletters/soft-skills
Recruiters’ and Students’ Perceptions of Career Readiness Don’t Align: NACE. Staffing Industry Analysts. (2022, March 2). Retrieved October 10, 2022, from https://www2.staffingindustry.com/Editorial/Daily-News/Recruiters-and-studentsperceptions-of-career-readiness-don-t-align-NACE-60814
Sharma, S. (2021, February 18). The growing importance of “Soft skills” in the Workplace. LinkedIn. Retrieved October 10, 2022, from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/growingimportance-soft-skills-workplace-shakti-sharma/