I recently did a career webinar for an international association; this course was focused on bachelors, masters and doctoral levels. One of the questions that came up was ‘what courses do you feel would position one for success?” If you are in school now, or thinking about it, there are three courses that hold value for employers:
- Organizational Behavior – as companies are made up of people, there are many dynamics which go on that involve people: coworkers, all levels of managers, direct reports, vendors and consumers. When people of differing backgrounds are thrown together to do work, there are bound to be some conflict that occurs; when these workers don’t agree or don’t like the policies or the way things are being run, problems arise. Understanding the how’s and why’s of human behavior increases understanding, empathy, tolerance and emotional intelligence to deal with any adverse situations that may arise. Taking this course increases your skills in these areas and allows you to come up with manageable solutions that puts you in charge of your workday and career. Mastering these will position you for leadership roles as well.
- Finance – as organizations are fiscally-focused, having a good grasp of financials will not only help you in your role but could make you stand out for other roles. Dealing with budgets, payables, projections and the like helps to understand how and why the work you do is important to the final outcome – this keeps you engaged in that work and gives you more ownership of it. Your employer will appreciate you having this knowledge which will go along way in your career.
- Technology – as organizations are adapting and adopting to doing work faster and more efficiently, they are relying more and more on technology to help with this work, which means they need people to develop and run these machines and systems. Having computer skills and knowledge of computing, database systems, coding, and security functions will not only help you to do your job easier but they also can help you stand out if you are looking to transition to a new position, whether that is inside or outside your organization. It will give you the competitive advantage often needed these days to secure desired positions.
If you are past the point of returning to school, there are ways that you can learn and hone this material, which can include: reading books on the topics, taking adult education courses at your local community college, looking for training courses online, such as Lynda.com, or through a professional association. You can always ask your children, nieces or nephews, or your local high school students (particularly technology-related). There are ways to hone your knowledge in these three areas – dive in and watch your skill-set soar. (this is my 270th article!!)
If you ever wondered if you should go to college, the latest statistics are in that affirm a college degree is definitely required if you want a job. According to a study recently published by the Brookings Institute, 43 percent of job openings require at least a bachelor’s degree and that it is taking more than a month fill positions due to educational requirements. Meaning, that if you don’t have a degree, your chances of getting hired for a well-paying job are down there.
The interesting outcome of the report is why this is so important. Yes, educated workers seemingly possess higher knowledge but it the reason is more of an economical one. Educated workers, it seems, have higher buying (spending) power which creates the need for more services and business opportunities. Cities that are well-educated “have a significant higher rate of job openings, higher business growth, and higher job demand.”
Another aspect of the report is on the value of what an education provides – increased knowledge and skills. The workforce is requiring more highly skilled employees, and having a degree speaks to this need. Workers with no diploma have a difficult time finding job openings – according to the study, in 2007 there were 2.9 job openings for undereducated, while 2011 saw 1.6 openings. In 2007, there were 12 job openings for unemployed workers with a college degree or higher but only 5.6 openings in 2011.
This trend does not seem to be easing soon, if it ever will. But the economic advantage is, as the study says, “boosting educational attainment is the only way to lower unemployment, especially in the nation’s hardest-hit regions.”
What are your thoughts on the study findings? Would love to hear your thoughts – share below!
If you are looking for a job or want to advance in your career, you might be asking if you should go back to school. Getting more education is great for a lot of reasons but there are some considerations that need to be well-thought out before you step into the “Ivy halls.”:
1. Know you purpose for going back to school – it’s not enought to get a degree as you must know what that degree will do for you and your career. You must research the field you are in, or want to go into, to know how viable the market is, salary ranges, companies that hire for the degree field, as well as the job descriptions/requirements. All of this information will help you know if your degree is worth pursuing.
2. Make the commitment – if you decide to go to school, then make a full commitment to put your time and effort to do the work that is needed. Show up for class, be prepared, participate. Don’t allow your personal life to interfere (which leads to #3)
3. Get your personal life in order before you sign up – discuss with your family the time needed to focus on your school work; have contingency plans in place for when your child is sick, you are on travel, or any other “issues” that may arise; make sure you have study habits in place and the right tools or materials that will be needed, such as a computer, copy paper and ink, pens, etc.
4. Practice self-care – balancing work and life along with school will create many challenges and stressors so it will be important that you figure your self-care into your calendar. Dependent on the institution and instructor, the pressure to complete work can be demanding and it can feel like you are being pulled into many different directions so you will want to find time and ways to keep your emotional and physical level up.
5. Have a support team in place – going back to school is exciting but it can feel like you are an island as you try to juggle your work with family and school so having supportive people in your corner will help. It could be a family member, a friend, a coach or fellow students. You can get through a lot easier if you feel supported and have a cheerleader in your corner.
I’m a big fan of lifelong learning but I see too many students who have good intentions but not the drive or commitment which can leave both them and their instructors frustrated. If you are considering a return to school, take the time to answer the questions above. It can help to reaffirm your decision and to be better prepared.