Upon graduating from high school, students and young talents today are often filled with doubts and uncertainties, questioning themselves on whether or not they should pursue a traditional university degree or explore other unconventional methods to develop the skills and knowledge (outside academics) to meet the rigorous demands of the job markets today. As a matter of fact, many study suggests that the value of holding a degree is gradually starting to diminish relative to the previous decades, and more talents are pursuing successful careers through other non-conventional education paths.
Looking into Traditional Education Pathways
To be able to graduate from a university demands a great deal of commitment from a student – to stay on course and remain dedicated to complete all the required credit hours for several years. Students are required to have good time management skills and balance between attending lectures and tutorial classes, completing their coursework and assignments, staying on course with their studies, and, if possible, also get involved in some extra-curricular activities. Only with a good combination of academic, volunteering and leadership initiatives, and holistic social life, will a student be able to stand out and improve their employability to kickstart their early careers.
Furthermore, students face many different challenges on an annual basis, that come in various shapes and forms, as part of the curriculum defined by the educational administration.
Working on Your Employability and Preparing for Your Career
However, we are seeing more and more people becoming worried about not being able to seek for suitable employments upon their graduation. This implies that graduating with a first-class degree and being on top of your class is simply not enough to position yourself as a suitable candidate to many employers today. IQ is only one of the many elements that comprise an ideal fresh graduate hire.
To stretch this concept even further, we can look at extreme cases where individuals like Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, and many other talents who left top schools (Stanford and Ivy Leagues), achieve immense success in their careers. Even back in the ASEAN region, we can point any a handful of examples of individuals that have proved that it is not necessary to obtain a traditional degree to be successful in the business world. So, for those of us who are pursuing our tertiary studies at traditional education institutions – what can we learn from these individuals and leaders about their success and how we can apply to our own development and learning.
On top of your academics and university activities, we have outlined 4 key items that is crucial for you to develop that will help increase your employability and elevate your career to a greater extent:
1. Communication Skills
We are talking about more than just the actual communication and speech itself. It is also important to anticipate engagement styles and communication medium based on your target audience.
Are you speaking with a person from a technical background? If so perhaps you may want to talk numbers and justify your concepts with proven data. Are you speaking someone from a different culture or ethnicity? Try to cultivate good listening skills and understand where they are coming from, before giving your opinions.
2. Technical Skills
While many people have been focusing on the importance of leadership, soft skills, and EQ, having a strong foundation with your technical skills (depending on your role) is also important to be able to contribute in your functional role. As we enter the digital age, digital literacy is important as well. Being Millennials or Gen-Z talents, you should ensure you familiarize yourself with the basic computer programs, Microsoft office, cloud programs, collaboration tools, and more.
3. Stakeholder Management
One of the most valuable skills that will help you climb the corporate ladder is Stakeholder Management. Being able to understand your organizational structure, who is responsible in each department, how to best communicate with them, what information to provide to specific individuals – are all critical components and questions that answer to make yourself a valuable employee in the organization.
4. Linguistic Proficiency
In many countries and companies, having a command of a second (or even third) language can offer you a significant competitive strength over other talents. Being able to communicate fluently in English in countries of which English is not the native language, is absolutely key, especially if you are keen on working in an international company.
Written by: Wai Yan Oo
Wai Yan is a Content Analyst at ProspectsASEAN and a digital ambassador of FOXSportsASIA. He is also the ambassador of Uyolo, a social network for human rights, promoting the UN Sustainable Development Goals based in Paris and Milan and the Local Comittee Team Leader of Incoming Exchange Development at AIESEC in Yangon. He’s currently pursuing Mechanical Engineering at TTU and the former delegate of 2017 GKS for ASEAN Science and Engineering Students in South Korea.
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