No matter your education level or how long you’ve been out of school, I’m sure at some point in life you’ve wondered, “What did I learn in school that actually helped me in my job?” Sure, you know how to read and write (that tends to be a bare necessity for the workforce) and you pick up all sorts of knowledge about world history, chemical equations, and where to put a comma, but have you ever stopped to think about what you brought with you from school into the workplace?
For many of us, the answer is no. As a Communication student, I didn’t think I had many practical skills to bring into the workplace. But now, as a Social Media Manager, I realize that’s not the case. There are skills that have definitely risen to the surface as ones I’ve developed in the classroom and brought to work.
From the time you become a Communication major to the time you finish your degree, you’re writing. It starts with a mere 8-page paper that turns into a 10-page paper and grows up to become a monstrous 30-page project or creative assignment. In Communication, my writing was all theory-based, and while writing about the political economy of Facebook (yup, that was actually a paper) may not have helped all that much in any of my jobs, I learned how to make the sometimes-boring theoretical content more captivating just by the way I wrote it. Social media might be a lot more exciting to begin with, but it’s still not easy to write copy for, especially when you have to think of different copy for each social media platform. Being able to write and rewrite has been incredibly helpful when it comes to my job.
Group projects: also known as the bane of any student’s existence. They get a bad rap, but if I’m being honest, group projects have allowed me to work with some interesting characters and have prepared me for people I might encounter in the workplace. When a group project rears its ugly head there’s a collective groan around the room, and while it may be torture for the semester, it spits you out on the other side as a more polite and collaborative person (even if you don’t quite feel polite on the inside). All this turmoil prepares you better for interactions at the office.
Time Management and Scheduling
When you have 4 or 5 courses on the go, each with their own deadlines, topics, and challenges, you have to learn how to manage your time. As a Social Media Manager, this is key. Getting on top of posts by making a social content calendar, scheduling posts where possible, and using tools to help with social media (link to other post) are all keys to making sure you don’t break up your day with posting on social, so instead you can focus on other things.
While some of the content from my university courses didn’t give me knowledge that directly helped me in the workplace, I did take a course that helped me to critically evaluate advertisements. It was incredibly theoretical, but it helped me to recognize the subtle nuances in ads that lead the viewer to retain the information or idea that they do. Now, when I work on marketing campaigns, I am better able to see things from the eye of the viewer and anticipate how one might react.
Looking back on my education, I realize I’ve learned plenty of theories and lofty concepts, and I figured I would never be able to put them to use. Since entering the workplace, I’ve come to realize that the theories I learned about in class could be translated into practical skills. My university learnings have given me the knowledge and skills I need to be able to market a product well. To me, that’s more valuable than anything I could ever learn about the political economy of Facebook (or whatever else I’ll write my next paper about 😉 ).