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Jun 15

Skills and Squirrels

(Source: Flickr)

Last week I saw a squirrel hanging upside down on the side of a tree trunk, using just its hind legs, while eating a nut with its front paws. Could you do that? Probably not, because you are not a squirrel. But as I alluded to in the June 1st post “Be Confident,” you have many other skills and abilities by virtue of your graduate training and experiences.

Research
If you break down your research into its components, regardless of your field, you have developed the ability to collect, interpret, analyze, and report information. The information looks different for each discipline, and the specific processes, tools, and techniques you apply look different, but the concept is the same. You can then apply the concept of “research” within the various careers you might pursue.

Writing
The amount of writing you have done during grad school will depend on your program, but no one gets through without honing their writing skills. Written communication is essential for every career path, and graduate school allows you to be confident that your writing experience is valuable.

Project Management
Whether it was for your dissertation, thesis, or smaller projects during your coursework, graduate school requires the completion of projects. And projects require the ability to do long-term planning as well as to overcome the inevitable short-term problems that arise along the way. Employers love when you can manage your projects independently, and that is not always possible right out of an undergrad program.

Public Speaking
I didn’t develop a comfort level with public speaking until I completed my own graduate program. Through teaching, class presentations, the Three Minute Thesis competition, conference presentations, symposia, workshops, and other opportunities, graduate students receive plenty of chances to hone their skills speaking in front of small to large groups.

One of the best parts? All of these skills are consistently among those listed as most important by employers.

What other skills have you developed during graduate school that you think are valuable for your future career? Leave them in the comments.

Need help turning your skills into a career strategy? We can help. gradcareers@nd.edu

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