Written by Brett Golonka, Account Executive for the JSMA Account Team. 

So, graduation is near and you have been frantically searching for that dream job. After all, college has given you the skills that you will need in the “real world,” right? In some ways you are right, and in some ways you are wrong. In addition to the skills you learn in school, you will need to be prepared to wow potential employers and stand out among the hoards of other recent graduates in the same shoes as you. With that in mind, it’s important to use these final months to work on skills that employers value the most. If you can master these 5 skills before entering the workforce, it will give you the edge needed to stand out in the applicant pool.

  1. Punctuality: Being late is a pet peeve for many employers; always be early. Professors might forgive you for walking into their class 10 minutes late, but your future boss will not be so kind. Get in the habit of giving yourself plenty of time to get your coffee, make the commute and still be 10 minutes early. I was once told that “early is on time, and on time is late.” Live by this motto and you will make a great impression.
  2. Eagerness to learn: Go out of your way to learn as much as possible about your role and the roles of everyone around you. Never stop learning; you never know when you will need a skill that you were not told to learn. When it is time for promotions, your boss may well offer you the job based on your willingness to learn and grow.
  3. Flexibility: Along with an eagerness to learn, it is also important to be flexible. Things change in the workplace and you have to be willing to accept those changes. It could be something as small as having to give up a project you have been working on in order to start a new one. Or, it may be something as big as switching to a new role within your company to satisfy a business need. In any case, take everything as it comes and use it as a learning opportunity.
  4. Time and self management: One of the main differences between school and work is structure. You have to be able to meet deadlines without someone constantly reminding you. Being able to keep track of deadlines and complete work on time, without having to be told over and over, will increase your value.
  5. Dependability: Last but not least, be the person that everyone can count on. Always create work that is professional and on time. If you can, come in early, stay late and if you get done with your tasks, volunteer to pick up slack around the office. Doing this will show your boss that you are a team player and that you truly care about contributing to the mission of the company.

You are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but in actuality, you are closer to the beginning than you are to the end. Relish in the fact that you have time to master these skills and more, and you will be on the fast track to a successful career. To learn more skills that will help you jumpstart your career search Google for professional development ideas. Make sure to visit Forbes.com, livecareer.com, and monster.com.

Brett Golonka is a senior studying public relations at the University of Oregon. He currently works as an account executive on the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art team with Allen Hall PR. Outside of school you can find him practicing photography and spending time with his wife and son. 

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