College Activities That Develop Important Soft Skills

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These days, many recruiters are looking for candidates who have key soft skills. Check out this blog post to find out how to develop these skills during college.

Why You Need Soft Skills

The value of education, certifications, and hard skills is timeless, but in today's job market, recruiters place a higher value on soft skills than they used to. When you think about it, that's no surprise. Employees who are capable programmers or talented designers are valuable, but what if they're not very good at communicating or collaborating? Wouldn't you rather work with somebody who has both hard and soft skills?

An employee with many soft and hard skills

Because soft skills aren't very easy to teach, companies prefer to hire employees who already have them. This means that, if you're in the job market, you'll be much more successful if you've cultivated soft skills. And there's no better time to start than the present! If you're a college student, here are a few activities that will give you the chance to develop important soft skills, which can help to make you an attractive job candidate in the future.

An employee gives a presentation in the workplace

Communication

One of the most valued soft skills in the workplace is communication as employees must be able to convey ideas clearly and efficiently, both out loud and in writing, to co-workers, supervisors, and clients alike. An employee's inability to successfully communicate wastes company time and, therefore, money. One way to hone your communication skills in college is to join a performance-focused activity like a theater or music club. Once involved you'll get comfortable in front of groups of people, which will help tremendously when giving professional presentations, and learn how adjusting tone and body language can help you deliver your intended message.

A team works together

Teamwork

Employees rarely function as individual units in today's workplace. Instead, it's common for individuals to work as part of a team sharing goals, tasks, workspace, and accountability. Therefore, the soft skill of teamwork is crucial to succeeding in the workplace. Once employed, you'll be expected to work successfully in tandem with others, cultivating trust, sharing ideas, and balancing strengths and weaknesses to achieve a shared goal.

College students playing a team sport

There are few better ways to develop teamwork skills than to play a team sport and, luckily, colleges tend to have many opportunities in this area. Whether you opt for a casual intramural league or make a Division 1 team the focus of your college career, the experience of playing a team sport will give you a leg up in the job market.

Leadership

Much of the time, acting as a functioning team member isn't enough. You might also be expected to serve as a leader or mentor within your team, helping to raise up those around you in order to be more successful together. One effective way to hone your leadership skills in college is to volunteer with children. For example, you might choose to become a big brother or sister to a child in need or assist in running an arts program for at-risk youth. Opportunities will vary according to availability and type, but learning to serve as a mentor to young people while in college can give you the necessary skills to be one in your workplace later on.

A college student volunteers with children

Problem-Solving

According to Fast Company, 62% of recruiters look for candidates who can problem-solve, particularly for management positions. Employees are often expected to be independent and creative, taking ownership when handling any issues that arise with their work.

In our opinion, one of the best ways to become good at problem-solving is to try out improvisational comedy. This activity forces you to think quickly on your feet and adapt to situations on the spot. As an improviser, you have no choice but to find some sort of solution for the questions that arise in your scenes. Additionally, improv can help to enhance your communication and teamwork skills, which makes it well worth trying out, even if you're not a natural comedian.

Learning Outside the Classroom

Ultimately, college doesn't just prepare you for the workforce by teaching you the hard skills that are relevant to your profession of choice. It also gives you ample opportunities to develop and test soft skills crucial to making you a more appealing candidate to recruiters when you start your career. We hope you give at least one of these activities a try. They'll not only help you grow and give you a leg up in the job market but also provide you with the chance to have fun and make friends, too.

If you're interested in getting a head start in college and earning online credit at a highly discounted rate, check out Study.com's College Accelerator.

By Daisy Rogozinsky
August 2018
college college success

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