When most of us came to K-State, the first thing we were looking to acquire was some sort of professional degree. Whether it was to get an undergraduate degree and venture into the working world or to go on to graduate and doctoral programs, the diploma, for many, is the single most important outcome of shelling out thousands of dollars every year.
The diploma, however, is not the only milestone that students should be reaching for. Although at the end of the day graduation is the goal for every student, college should be a comprehensive experience that not only helps you develop as a person but also makes you more marketable to future employers.
Here are four things that students should look to gain from their college experience:
1. People skills
There is perhaps nothing more vital to a student’s future success than learning how to analyze people. Contrary to popular belief, people skills involve more than being well-liked. In addition to developing a keen intuition on how to communicate with others, developing people skills also requires a tremendous amount of patience because it involves building meaningful relationships.
It doesn’t matter if you are a student, a campus leader or any other role in the community, you will continuously build relationships with people you interact with.
What will set you apart from the rest, however, is your ability to connect with people on a deeper level. This involves reaching out to those in your life and maintaining connections.
Practice building and maintaining relationships by providing yourself with social outlets to meet new people. And then, hold on to those relationships; the connections you make in college could lead to lifelong friendships and an unexpectedly well-connected network.
2. Exposure to multicultural activities
In today’s diverse society, exposure to multicultural activities is a must to distinguish yourself. At K-State, organizations such as the International Student Center and the International Coordinating Council are constantly hosting programs and events to encourage cross-culture interaction. Many of these programs are free or of little cost to students.
Take advantage of these opportunities; it never hurts to learn something from a different culture. Art exhibitions, dance and music shows, banquets and other such events can help expose you to a new world.
What’s more, as a professional, you never know where you’ll end up working. In a globalized economy, you may be asked to work in places with developing markets such as India, China or Brazil.
I promise you, going to a place like India will be a much more pleasant experience if you’ve had a round of curry and listened to some Bollywood music before.
3. The ability to work in high pressure situations
One of the first questions I was asked in some recent internship interviews was, “Describe a time that you handled stress well.”
As students, many of us handle rigorous workloads. Tests come in waves, and semesters are filled with various tasks for classes.
But recruiters have heard all this before. What makes you different?
Successfully answering a question like this involves two things: actively putting yourself in high-pressure situations and coming out of those situations with a positive result.
Examples of high-stress situations could be problems that you have faced in student organizations you are involved in, academic struggles that you have overcome, obstacles in the workplace or even personal hurdles that you have conquered.
At the end of the day, it is crucial to demonstrate the ability to stand strong under pressure. Not everything in the real world goes according to plan, but learning how to adjust and adapt is crucial to your future success.
4. Analytical/problem solving skills
Problem solving is another important skill to pick up while in college. Many students, unfortunately, use techniques of brute memorization. Although this approach may work for some basic classes, the higher up you progress in your degree track (and in life in general), the more you will need to think critically.
In many behavioral interviews, students will be given a hypothetical scenario and then asked to provide a detailed answer.
Critical thinking skills will allow you to approach these types of problems conceptually.
As a student, learn how to study your curriculum to understand and master the subject instead of learning it for the next test. Remember, you are going to need some of this information for much longer than this semester.
In fact, your career may depend on it, so give yourself the best chance to succeed.
Andy Rao is a junior in finance and accounting. Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.