[This post originally appeared on www.TheLectureRoom.co.uk]
By Vlad Mackevic
When you are at university, you can draw valuable lessons and extract benefit from almost every activity you do. Despite how much fun partying and participating in student societies is, academic work remains your main activity at uni – and, if you do it well, it can teach you quite a few valuable skills that every employer values.
As you have probably heard countless times from the news, the main problem that modern students face is not the lack of employment opportunities, but the lack of employability skills. Although modern graduates do have great degree-related skills, their weak point is the soft, or transferable, competencies.
So, let’s have a look at what academic work can teach you:
1. Communication (written and spoken)
One of the most obvious ways to enhance your communication skills at university is by writing assignments (essays, reports, research papers or your dissertation) and by giving presentations in front of the class. If your degree course involves those things (especially oral presentations, because that’s the field in which many students do not have much experience), you must use every opportunity to practice your communication skills.
Take every assignment seriously – especially your first year essays because they are the ‘training ground’ where you can practice your skills with minimum risk and discover your unique writing voice that you will find very useful in the future. Employers value employees who are able to express their thoughts clearly, in an organised manner.
Moreover, if your academic work is good, you could take it further and have it published in undergraduate research journals. After all, not many undergraduates can boast having publications and these achievements can add a competitive edge to your employability.
2. Analytical and Research
Once again, your academic work can help you here. Academic writing is all about looking for right information in the library and on the internet (research skills), selecting what is relevant to your assignment question, examining your findings and interpreting them, telling fact from opinion and being critical about your work and that of others, which means knowing the potential drawbacks of the dataset and the methods (analytical skills).
P.S. Browse through this blog – it contains some good articles on academic assignments and how to write them successfully! Watch this space, too – a dozen or articles on academic writing is due to appear in September!