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College 101

Article Type: Quick and Dirty

We’re talking skills. Don’t worry, though, you’ve got them. You may just need to figure out what the heck your skills are. . So…what are you good at? And be brutally honest here. However, don’t confuse liking the idea of being good at something with actually being good at something. If you consider yourself the songbird of your generation but are afraid to sing in front of anyone, forget it, Nighthawk. What can you actually do almost effortlessly that other people struggle with and, when you finish, have people say “Wow, you’re good at that”? Video game skills are nothing to sneeze at if you’ve got ‘em—flight simulators are training tools for pilots. And your cross country running skills have given you great stamina and patience

Some of your answers might easily apply to career fields or areas of study. Can you do complex Calculus problems in your head? Mathematician. Do you write amazing code? Computer programmer. Does your gorgonzola soufflé make people weep with joy? Chef.

Other skills don’t immediately cause careers to pop into your skull. Maybe you’re great at sticking up for people in school (lawyer, mediator, bouncer). Perhaps you’ve had perfect attendance since kindergarten (teacher, bus driver, goody-goody). Or your closet is organized by the colors of the spectrum (clothing or interior designer, future therapy patient). What then?

This stuff is important too. What we are talking here are called “transferable skills.” These are skills that are applicable (and often hugely important) across a wide variety of careers. Examples, you ask? Try these on for size: organizational ability, time management, people skills, public speaking, clear and accurate writing, goal setting with follow-through, and conflict management. You can even check out this Skills Checklist for more ideas of what you have and skills you might want to gain.

So start creating an inventory. Go through your daily and weekly routine, and pay attention to areas where you excel (and areas where you suck—we all have them and it’s good to put them out there now so you can get to work on them). Write down activities, hobbies, school projects and subjects, hard skills and transferable skills that you feel you truly are great at. Combine that list with some of your Interests, and then take the time to investigate some Shmoop Careers which match your interests and skills.

Once you have an idea of what direction you want to take, Make a Plan with Shmoop to help you get there.

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