||Preparing for Fall Semester: Electives to Balance Your Skills
By Trish Freshwater, Senior Communications Manager
The following article was originally published on the Student Branding Blog, where students can find a wealth of information about preparing for their future career. This is an abridged version.
Whether you're working towards a bachelor's degree in business, food management or anything in between, you likely have some elective credits to fill each semester. While you might think that this is a great place to drop in that easy class to lighten your load, you also may want to consider a more strategic approach to your electives.
As you prepare for your future career, there are a number of competencies that will set you apart from other job candidates – called transferrable skills – skills that will help you succeed in numerous different jobs and skills that will even enhance your technical skill set. From this perspective, consider choosing electives that will help round out your experience, knowledge and skill set:
Good writing skills are, perhaps, the most important skill set you will need for any career. From the seemingly simple task of writing an e-mail to the more thoughtful writing of letters, proposals and presentations, writing is at the core of everything you will do in your future career. Look for classes in business writing, business communication, technical writing and fiction/nonfiction writing. It doesn't really matter what type of writing you're doing, as long as you're writing.
Most college students dread giving a speech. This fear usually comes from a lack of experience. This is perhaps the second-most important elective you can take, after a writing class. Look for classes in public speaking, oral interpretation, interpersonal communication and business communication.
Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
Knowing how to research, understand and solve problems will be common tasks in your professional life. Look for classes in ethics, logic, philosophy, critical thinking and project management, or a class in research methods if it applies to your major.
Today's world is shrinking fast, thanks to social media and other online tools. Understanding world cultures will be important. Look for classes in history, political science, government, geography, world religions, cultural anthropology, women's studies and ethnic studies.
All entry-level candidates for nearly any job should have solid computer skills. Additionally, it would be helpful to understand some basic business concepts. Look for classes that teach Microsoft Office programs and how to use spreadsheets and databases. And, if it makes sense for your career, look into graphic design, photo and video editing classes. For business acumen, consider classes in accounting, business communication, business law, human resources management and economics.
Choosing the right elective classes should be a fun part of arranging your schedule each semester. But, if you put a little thought behind your choices, you could easily set yourself up to be a stronger job candidate after graduation. Who knows, if you select just the right classes, you could even earn yourself a minor in business or communication – just one more credential to set you apart from other new grads in your career field. Good luck and happy scheduling!