Graduation season is upon us, which means celebrating your success, panicking about your future, and wondering what the past four years has done for you in terms of the “real world.” I have good news for the communications majors, while writing a press release on made-up news won’t be something you’ll use, the skills of these tasks will help build your professional profile.
It may have been hard to imagine at the time, however, what you learned in the classroom will translate to your work life. Whether it’s professional or lifestyle skills, the skills learned in the classroom will be the foundation for what you’ll learn on the job.
1. Made-up campaigns weren’t a waste of time – they stimulated your creativity.
If you took communications courses, you understand that professors loved made-up campaigns. Writing strategy plans, building out campaign booklets with your ‘plans’ and ‘results,’ giving speeches at ‘press conferences,’ – there seemed to be no end to imaginary business planning.
While everything was made up, the skills you gained during these projects will be used throughout your career! Guess what – most of a marketer’s job is being imaginative, and creating roadmaps for potential future plans. And a lot of the time these projects were also in a group, which leads to my next point…
2. Group projects made you a better coworker.
You won’t like everyone that you work with. It’s inevitable to work with someone who you don’t particularly enjoy being around. Group projects were the first time you really had to experience what it was like to work with others, and maybe those who weren’t easy to get along with.
In the world of marketing, you have to be able to mesh with all different personalities and types of people. What’s important to have gained from your group project experience was – how did you deal with those group members? Did you lash out in anger if they didn’t pull their weight, or did you rationally discuss the group’s next steps? The greatest skill you’ve gained from group projects is learning how to work, deal, and coexist around other people.
3. Presentations and speeches helped build your confidence.
While stressful and nerve-wracking, presentation skills are one of the most important professional skills you can acquire. During job interviews you are presenting yourself, during client calls you are presenting yourself, during staff meetings you are presenting yourself – all of these instances require you to have a strong self-confidence and conviction in your tone.
4. Your friends, clubs, and organizations built out your network.
As any recent graduate knows, landing a job right out of college is no easy feat. In a many circumstances, networking will be the only way to get your foot in the door. Whether you’ve connected with someone through PRSA, contacted an old manager from an internship, or reached out to an alumnus from your school, personal connections will separate you from the stack of resumes by someone personally vouching for your character and work ethic.
5. Lectures taught you how to take good notes.
Taking notes in your classes helped you learn how to multitask and prioritize information, which will be a key skill to have on the job. During meetings with clients and with your team, you’ll be expected to take thorough and detailed notes. Having experience scribbling down notes as your professor spoke was excellent practice.
6. Stress management.
Cramming for an exam that was worth half your grade, or stressing to juggle your workload with extracurricular activities – college taught you how to manage your time, and manage your stress levels. In the classroom and in the workplace, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. Learning how to cope with your stress is going to be an invaluable asset once you have deadlines to meet.
7. All of that research has made you resourceful!
This is probably the most important skill to have as a new marketer. You need to be resourceful, think outside of the box, and be a problem solver. Your client may be interested in hosting an event, and you’ll be tasked with figuring out logistics and finding a creative hook that will make sense for their brand, and appeal to media. Those hours spent in the library navigating through the Internet for your research paper were not wasted – they taught you how to dig around, find relevant information, and problem solve. (Editor’s Note: Don’t forget to also check out how to best display your skills on our LinkedIn Optimization Guide!)
There is no magic formula to make sure you are prepared for the ‘real world’ as a new marketer, however you can be thankful that many of your experiences in the classroom can easily be translated to your professional life.