So much of what makes us successful in business isn’t based on what we learn from a textbook or an exam—it’s based on our firsthand experiences. It’s the practical application of learned concepts that enables us to develop proficiency. Immersing students in “hands-on” learning outside the traditional classroom and developing programs that offer collaborative methods for demonstrating knowledge and measuring performance is important preparation for college and professional success.
I think effective communication, teamwork, and project execution are three of the most essential competencies for success on the job. I believe these core skills have made a difference in my career. I look for these qualities in the people I hire.
• Strong communications skills include writing, presenting, and effective interpersonal communication. These are vital to any position, regardless of industry or field of study.
• Teamwork includes both the ability to take direction and provide leadership. Whether it’s implementing a technology solution or marketing a product, it’s amazing what can be accomplished when you aren’t worried about who gets the credit.
• Project execution is the ability to take initiative, solve problems, and get things done. Being able to see the big picture and translate that into an action plan with smaller, more manageable pieces makes the difference between project success and failure.
I would like to see more workplace skills incorporated into U.S. school curriculums to bring learning to a new level. An experiential learning program like the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) Stock Market Game is not only a way to engage students in learning fundamentals but it also requires them to work as a team to do research, communicate findings, and present ideas. Besides being an excellent learning experience, it provides lifelong skills and is a lot of fun. Furthermore, schools can ask companies for help. At RBC, employees share their expertise by mentoring students from Anwatin Middle School in Minneapolis. We also have a robust internship program for college students who want to work on meaningful projects while gaining practical workplace skills.
It is the proficiency students develop beyond the textbook that can make a difference in their college and professional success. Unless you know how to communicate your point, work as a team, and execute a project to completion, you will find college and advancement in the workplace to be a challenge.