We’ve learned how to prepare for a test, write a good essay and properly read a textbook. All of these skills have come to our advantage during our time here at UNC Charlotte; but what about after we leave? There will come a time, probably sooner than we’d like to realize, that we won’t just be “49ers.” We’ll be potential employees looking for our first real job. The classroom-centric skills we learned won’t pertain to our lives anymore. It’s great to make the most of our college career, but we have an entire post-graduation life that is just on the horizon. An issue that many recent graduates face is not being prepared to enter the “real world” and start a life that does not revolve around taking classes. This shell shock is due to us not being taught skills that will be pertinent in our professional and personal lives after we leave campus.

At this point, we may believe that graduating with a 4.0 will guarantee a successful future. The saddening truth is that employers are far less concerned about our grades than we are led to believe. In fact, according to a survey from the research firm Millennial Branding, only two percent of employers believe that GPA should be a significant factor in determining if a potential employee is hirable. Relying solely on grades alone will make you seem one-dimensional. Employers are looking for candidates who are well-rounded. They want to see that you have acquired skills and professional knowledge that sets you apart from all the other individuals in your graduating class. With college students graduating at record levels and the job market being so fiercely competitive, just showing you can pass an exam isn’t enough. One of the main reasons we don’t possess the abilities deemed necessary by employers is simply because these skills are not taught in the classroom. Much of the learning we do is very classroom-centric. There are few classes specifically dedicated to helping students learn vocational and professional skills. Shockingly, according the Washington Examiner, as few as 11 percent of business employers believe that colleges are adequately preparing the next generation of workers. Many job applications will ask that candidates be competent in areas such as the following: strategic planning, deductive reasoning and interpersonal communication. These are all terms that are seldom heard in the classroom. Universities need to do a better job of both informing us of these qualifications and helping us begin to develop them. There should be more classes, workshops and college organizations specifically geared towards helping students gain experience in these areas.

As easy as it would be to blame the curriculum for our ill-preparedness, we have to take some, if not most, of the responsibility for this. We have the ability to do independent research on what employers in our field of interest are looking for. There are plenty of opportunities to develop professional skills outside of our campus. Professional workshops are consistently being held throughout Charlotte to help attendees expand their knowledge in an array of career fields. A quick Google search will introduce you to more workshop opportunities than you could count. Also, there is no better place to learn about a job than at the job itself. Completing an internship or mentorship in the field you are interested in is a fantastic way to gain the exact skills you will need. This will also make you more marketable due to having gained actual experience in the field before many of your peers. It’s amazing how many opportunities we have to become more
impressive applicants. We just have to take initiative and seek them out.

In conclusion, our college careers will soon be replaced with professional ones. We should all start seriously considering if we are ready for this transition. Unfortunately, many of us aren’t. The academically-based skills we’ve been taught have served their purpose, but now we have to look far beyond our next exam. We need to start developing our professional skills now to ensure we fit the qualifications of today’s demanding job market. It’s time to stop relying on a class’s curriculum to teach us how to grow up. We have to do this on our own.

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