Working in a university, we all have the chance to educate our students. Those who work with and supervise student workers are uniquely poised to teach students to be responsible and dependable workers. When you reinforce and recognize students for demonstrating these skills, you will build their self confidence. The skills you can teach will prove to be invaluable as our students graduate and enter the work force.
Consider where you have the opportunity to teach students what is expected of working professionals, and the skills that successful workers need. Some of these necessary skills include the following:
Time Management/Organizational Skills
So busy that finding time can be a task? Time management is an important skill set that will help any student become successful not only academically, but wherever their professional endeavors take them. How can we help students learn to manage their time more efficiently and effectively? Being well organized and knowing how to prioritize tasks are critical tasks to learn. Teaching students these skills in efficiency are critical to their future success.
Technology plays an ever increasing role in our personal and professional lives. How can we enhance student’s understanding of basic computer skills and use? Do we teach them SOU computer use policies? How social networking sites can positively or negatively impact a student’s work life? These are all topics that you can discuss with student employees. What are other technical skills can you teach students to prepare them for future work experiences?
Professionalism and Leadership Development
Supervisors should help students explore and define expectation of professionalism and leadership in the workplace. Students need to learn best practices to further develop their problem solving, conflict resolution, decision-making, and leadership skills. Students also need to learn what it means to be part of an effective team. To be seen as leaders, students need to develop strong analytical skills in order to evaluate situations and be able to make sound decisions. Strong leaders take the initiative to resolve issues around them and proactively find solutions. Strong leaders also acknowledge mistakes and failures without blaming others. How can we encourage students to learn these skills?
What is the difference between good customer service and great customer service? The people providing the service to the customer! What opportunities do you have to benchmark and exemplify great customer service in your current role to make sure each customer is left with their needs exceeded? Part of exceeding a customer’s expectations is listening, responding in a timely matter, and anticipating what a customer will need.
Ethics in the workplace is a crucial quality, and one that can be modeled and discussed frequently. Where can you discuss ethical decision making with students? Can they share challenges and applying the model in their work?
Fostering Diversity/Community Building
The workplace can be highly diverse, but stereotypes and biases can get in the way when creating a diverse and inclusive space for everyone, and impact the process of community building. How do we model inclusiveness and community building? How can we help students to work effectively in a diverse atmosphere? How do we address issues of stereotype, bias, prejudice and discrimination?
Having a strong work ethic is one of the key components to being successful in the workplace. Work ethic is often what sets employees apart from others and leads to promotions and opportunities. Work ethic involves taking initiative to understand required work assignments, insuring that work is accurate, of high quality and completed on time. Students need to understand the importance of being detail oriented. It is also important to demonstrate responsibility through attendance, punctuality and reliability. Demonstrated enthusiasm, flexibility, adaptability and willingness to complete assignments are also important. It is also important that students understand and follow established policies, process and practices.
Team work is a critical skill to have in the workplace. In all work situations team work is required and involves learning flexibility, conflict management, and cooperation. How can we help students learn the importance of team work? How can we help them learn to resolve conflicts successfully and the importance of developing strong work relationships with co-workers?
Oral and written communication skills are essential to any job. It is important that students learn to communicate in a professional manner and understand the appropriate style of communication based on the audience.
Adapted from the University of Central Florida -- http://set.sdes.ucf.edu/
Adapted from Job Choices: Diversity Edition 2009, with permission of the National Association of Colleges and Employers, copyright holder.