In the age of social media, when one can come across numerous inspirational stories of young adults and teenagers accomplishing incredible feats, it is easy for students to feel a sense of inadequacy. Regrets such as: “If only I had learned to code when I was younger,” or “I wish I were academically gifted,” could cross anyone’s mind when looking through other people’s achievements on LinkedIn or Facebook. This can be a discouraging feeling, especially when applying for internships or jobs.
However, hard skills are not the only way to success. What many students don’t realize is that they may already possess the most crucial skills necessary for a successful career—skills that schools sometimes fail to emphasize.
In an interview with OWN Academy, Jenny Lee, the Chief Product Officer at WeLab, and Simon Cuthbert, Entertainment, Platforms, and Connectivity Manager at Cathay Pacific, discuss some of the skills they consider most important to have in today’s industry. Let’s take a look at them.
Skill #1: Communication
“A lot of the problems I have to solve every day can be solved through better communication,” says Jenny. Both her and Simon stress the importance of interpersonal communication above all other skills. Being able to effectively communicate with others around you, form meaningful relationships, and be an approachable and reliable colleague, can advance one’s career more than any other skill. As Aristotle said, men are social animals, therefore the relationships we build whether they be with potential clients or with our own teams, can determine our professional success.
Skill #2: Curiosity
Developing an intellectual curiosity is another skill that can aid students in their journey. Curiosity is a strong driver into the unknown. It forces us out of our comfort zones and that is when we discover new opportunities, new relationships, and new ways to grow. “Other things like creativity, knowing how to be a better leader, knowing how to problem-solve, are things that you will figure out if you keep intellectual curiosity and growth mindset,” says Jenny. Additionally, some companies are willing to encourage such curiosity by offering professional development courses or financially supporting employees’ education.
Skill #3: Creativity
Curiosity, in turn, feeds creative thinking. Creativity is not a skill to be underestimated. As Simon discusses in the interview, creativity is a rare and very in-demand skill in the job market. As industries become more interdisciplinary, companies need individuals who look at problems from different angles and search for innovative ways to stand out in the market. Creative thinkers can offer new perspectives on old problems, and transform existing knowledge.
Skill #4: Problem-solving
Problem-solving is closely tied to curiosity and creativity. Simply put, it involves applying creativity in real-life situations with real-life constraints, such as budgeting, technical concerns, and interpersonal issues among others. According to this article by Forbes, “The best way to future-proof your career from uncertainty is to become a master problem-solver.” Since problem-solving as a skill enables individuals to efficiently tackle difficult situations, and find solutions to complex challenges, all companies need people possessing such a skill.
Skill #5: Leadership
Leadership is the culmination of all the skills above. It is mostly about being confident in your abilities and being able to make decisions. As a young person, you may find it hard to feel confident in your judgment, but it is important to remember that youth and the new perspective that comes with it can be one’s greatest strength. Simon emphasizes this and affirms that “it takes a really good judgment to point out when things are outdated.” Confidence can be honed by working on communication skills, staying curious, and learning new ways to solve problems, so you feel more assured in your judgment.
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