Well-rounded students have best chances in post-grad life

Kayla McLane

Regardless of anyone’s field of study, we are all looking to land a job after graduation. We are all taking classes, studying hard and learning the skills we need to land that dream job in our field. But what about the rest of our development as future professionals?

While at Northern, a lot of us are focusing on becoming better artists, nurses, teachers and even theatre performers. But I believe these are not the only skills that are needed to be successful and Forbes Magazine agrees. 

According to Susan Adams, a Forbes staff member, technical knowledge in the field sits at seventh on the list of “10 Skills Employers Most Want in 20-Something Employees.”

Knowledge in the field falls far below the ability to work within a team, which is ranked number one, along with solving problems at number two and communicating effectively at number four.

I don’t believe students are focusing enough on these skills along with their major-related abilities. Students tend to focus solely on being the best in their major, but I don’t think this is enough. Students need to be able to market themselves as professional, personable, organized and responsible in order to be successful.

As an art and design major, I have seen my share of expressive artists with no real professional skills or abilities to function outside of the studio. These will not be the people who are competitive in the job market after graduation but instead they are the ones who epitomize the “starving artist” stereotype.

This fact remains true in other majors as well. Every graduate of NMU should be trained and practiced in the professional world along with their major. Simple skills such as writing a professional email, dressing professionally and communicating with people in both the business  world and community are skills that are often overlooked.

Although technical skills are ranked seventh, they are still vital to the success as an individual. Without the knowledge, someone couldn’t successfully create a well-designed magazine cover.

But I would argue that success requires more than that. Tracy Wascom, assistant professor in the art and design department, emphasizes time management as an additional skill needed by artist to be effective in the world.

Abilities such as time management are not necessarily the fun part of the job, but are just as fundamental, Wascom said. In addition, we should not be dismissing the need for those talents but instead strengthening them along with our creativity and ideas.

“They are necessary,” Wascom said. “They are such a key part of the arsenal that you will be drawing on in the future.”

As every student faces the future after graduation, we should be learning and striving to be the best version of ourselves. This takes effort in all areas of our development including the technical skills related to our major and the abilities to perform in the professional world.