The Skills You Don’t Learn In School

Over at Hack Library School, one of the contributors recently posted about The Skills You Don’t Learn In School: interpersonal skills. As they say in the post, “librarianship is a profession that’s all about helping people.”

I posted a bit about this last fall when I was first (re)starting graduate school. I’m lucky enough to have worked in the “real” world for a couple of years before diving back into graduate school, so I have experience of working with people in a professional setting and not just from my undergraduate days working on the computer lab help desk and selling soap at Bath Junkie. When I was interviewing for my Graduate Assistant position at the Physics, Maths & Astronomy Library, one of the skills that I had that made the biggest impression was my time working as a Marketing Coordinator, where I spent most of my day every day communicating with clients and answering the same questions over and over (“what do you mean I have to put the FDIC disclaimers on everything? They’re so long!” “BECAUSE IT’S THE LAW!!”) as well as effectively running my firm’s small in-house marketing department with almost no supervision. Excellent communication and interpersonal skills? Check! Ability to manage complex workload, prioritize tasks and complete work on time with minimum supervision? Check!

However, I know of other students in my program at the UT-Austin iSchool who worry about their resumes and their chances of getting jobs because they only have retail or work study experience from their undergraduate days. To quote again from Hack Library School’s post, “Even if you don’t have prior library experience, there are transferable skills that you can use in a library setting. I spent many years slinging coffee beans, working in customer service. I had no clue that the experiences I had at the coffee shop would actually help me as a reference librarian.” They also link to a post from April 2011 that gives concrete advice on Ways to Improve Your Soft Skills.

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2 thoughts on “The Skills You Don’t Learn In School

  1. As for my resume, I think my soft-skills are just beefed up (borderline exaggerated) ‘skills’ that I stretch for the job I apply for. lol. Being able to pull those out of the air, though, is a talent. ;-) For example, I “created and maintained a safe work environment for children” when I worked in the toy department in Wal-Mart. lol

    PS: I love the header!

    • I think a certain amount of “squidging” (yes, that is a technical term) is required when it comes to resumes. I know I skew the information about my degrees and what courses I took depending on what I’m applying for—I probably won’t talk much about my archival enterprise classes on librarianship applications, for example, and vice versa—and especially when it comes to soft skills you have to spin your experience to suit the situation. ;)

      And thanks! I’m still playing around with it, but I love that image and try to use it all the time. :D

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