TENNESSEE TECH – The UCBJ and Tennessee Tech College of Business present the winning essay in the Tennessee Tech College of Business (TTU COB) Writing Competition. Students were asked to submit an essay over three National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) career competencies of their choice covering why these competencies are important to the student, how they should be applied in life and the aspects with which the student struggles. The following is the winning essay submitted by Katelyn Wilson.
Career skills necessary to succeed in business
By Katelyn Wilson
According to President Woodrow Wilson in his address to Swarthmore College in 1913, “You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand” (Archive 1).
Being career-ready is not only about increasing your salary or gaining a title. Gaining career-ready skills allows one to eventually make a meaningful impact on a business, industry, people or even oneself. The most rewarding return on investment from gaining these essential skills does not come from a bank teller bi-weekly, but instead comes from knowing that you made a difference in your industry. Having these core competencies instilled within muscle memory from much practice and dedication makes the road to great leadership much shorter.
There are three career-ready skills that I find to be the most important in my life: critical thinking and problem solving, oral and written communication and leadership. Although there are many roads ahead of me, zoning in on these three skills will move me closer to my dream: changing the world one small step at a time.
Have you ever been in a situation at work where everything seems to be failing, and everyone is looking at you for the answers? These situations are startling if you are unprepared. Having critical thinking and problem-solving skills will always make this scenario less frightening. Not only is this an essential skill for a career, but it is generally important as a life skill, as well.
According to Richard Paul with The Foundation for Critical Thinking, “Specifically, critical thinking – the capacity to evaluate skillfully and fairly the quality of evidence and detect error, hypocrisy, manipulation, dissembling and bias – is central to both personal success and national needs” (Paul 2004).
I have had many situations while working as a Front-End Supervisor where I needed to apply critical thinking. During a system failure, the traditional first step would be to follow standard operating procedures for the company.
What if this does not work? Instead of instantly becoming overwhelmed, take a moment and focus on your relevant knowledge of the situation. Apply this knowledge and think of the situation critically. When I evaluate this thought and steadily persevere, I eventually solve the problem.
Although I have had experience with critical thinking skills, I am not exceptionally versed in it. I tend to struggle after I feel depleted of my knowledge of the situation. At this point, I find a solution that involves group-effort thinking. Brainstorming as a group should never be thought of as a downside, though. When the minds of many are grouped, the resolutions are endless!
There is one thing that will inspire me repeatedly, without hesitation, and without failure – an ignited soul with a purpose to leave its signature with every last drop of ink on each lonely page it encounters. The power of well-written words that are purpose-driven can leave such an impact on someone that it could very well change their life.
Oral and written communication is essential to being ready to tackle the workforce. Without these skills, you risk being misunderstood, and you also risk misunderstanding. Proper communication allows you and others to understand information quickly and efficiently, which is vital to success in the workplace and life. I consistently practice my oral and written communication skills through my business and personal life. I take advantage of speaking in front of a group because I know it helps me build a solid foundation of communication skills.
Communication is a skill that I will be building on for the rest of my career. Although I get plenty of practice speaking in front of others, I still struggle with stage fright and nervousness. The only thing I can continue to do is persevere. Backing down is never an option when you want to be career-ready!
According to Raj Vardham with “GoRemotely,” “79% of employees quit their jobs due to lack of appreciation” (Vardham 2020). An organization’s culture is derived by who is in charge.
A great leader allows for a welcoming environment that is suitable for all employees. Without a great leader, the company’s culture will fall. When this happens, as it does in most cases, a company’s turnover rate increases tremendously. In a perfect world, if there were more suitable leaders who cared about the well-being of all employees, the turnover rates would begin to diminish.
Why is having leadership as a skill important? The answer is simple – the world needs fewer people who are after power and more who are ready to empower. I apply leadership skills in my everyday life by focusing on the improvements and the happiness of those around me.
The employees that I oversee at work trust me. This trust is because I do not hold power over them. We welcome the power of a day’s success together. My leadership journey is still in progress, so I still make mistakes and have struggles. At times, I am unsure of the best decision to make for my team, but we can accomplish exactly what we need to with group effort.
Improving and polishing these essential career-ready skills will not only assist me in my future career endeavors, but it will also motivate me as a person. My goal is to change the world one small step at a time, and by being proficient in critical thinking and problem solving, oral and written communication and leadership, I will be one step closer to doing just that.
What we want our futures to look like will all depend on the changes we make after reflecting within. Said best by Mahatma Ghandi, “We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body” (Genesis 1).
Ghandi, Muhatma. “Be The Change.” Genesis, 17 June 2019, www.genesisca.org/singlepost/2019/06/17/be-the-change. Accessed 4 Apr. 2021.
Internet Archive. “Full Text of “Address of President Woodrow Wilson, Delivered at Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, Pa., October 25, 1913″.” Internet Archive: Digital Library of Free & Borrowable Books, Movies, Music & Wayback Machine, archive.org/stream/addressofpreside07wilsonw/addressofpreside07wilsonw_djvu.txt.
Accessed 4 Apr. 2021.
Paul, Richard. “The State of Critical Thinking Today.” Critical Thinking, 2004, www.criticalthinking.org/pages/the-state-of-critical-thinking-today/523. Accessed 4 Apr. 2021.
Vardham, Raj. “21+ Inspiring Leadership Statistics (2020 Facts & Figures).” Goremotely,
13 Oct. 2020, goremotely.net/blog/leadership-statistics/. Accessed 4 Apr. 2021.