Hidden lessons: transferable job skills university teaches you

Woohoo! You survived uni. Sure, you’re up to your eyeballs in debt, you’ve not eaten a proper meal for a good few months, your liver has taken a bit of a bashing and is that a grey hair you can see coming through? But all the instant noodles, sweat and tears were worth it. Not only have you gained new friends, a wealth of knowledge and a fancy certificate with your name on it, you’ve also gained essential transferable job skills.

Many graduates can feel a little deflated after university. Some realise that they don’t want to pursue the discipline they studied, while others feel like their lack of professional experience will hinder them in the job hunt. Either way, it’s easy to feel a little lost once graduation comes and goes. Don’t forget that uni teaches you more than just the academic side of things, the skills you develop and learn during further education will set you up for professional life.

Don’t believe us? We’ve put together a list of some of the top skills employers are looking for that, thanks to university, you already have! Take a look:

People skills

You’d be surprised at how many people lack this crucial skill. However, going to university pretty much forces you to develop it! You’re thrown into multiple situations that require you to interact with all kinds of different people you’ve never met before. You move in with strangers, you study with strangers and you’re tutored by them, too. It was daunting at first, right? But now you’re much more confident meeting and talking to new people and you find it easy to get on with most. Additionally, thanks to the millionth argument about stolen milk, or group project squabbles, you’re a dab hand at resolving conflict, too.

Well, don’t underestimate this ability – people skills are prized by employers, and with good reason. At work, you need to be able to get on with your colleagues and build rapport with any customers or contacts you’ll be dealing with.


This can be linked to people skills, but goes much further than that. When you think about it, the need to communicate rockets when you’re at university compared to your school/college days. Your verbal communication skills are boosted by seminar contributions, presentations and working with your course-mates, amongst other things. On top of this, your written communication skills are honed to a tee thanks to the endless essays, dissertations and emails to your peers, landlord or university staff.

Again, communication skills are valued by employers, simply because in most roles they are essential!

Organisation and planning

Anyone who’s been to uni knows the feeling of having a million and one things to get done in a very short period of time. Parties, panics and late night studying aside, you did it! After a while, you found your stride and got into a routine that worked for you. You can’t deny that you learned a thing or two about managing your workload and your time. This in itself is a skill.

The transition from school to college to university to work sees your independence and autonomy grow. At work, there’s no teacher keeping you behind to finish a project, there’s no tutor to remind you of your deadlines – it’s all on you. This is why employers want to hire people who know how to organise themselves. And guess what? You can!

Research and analytical thinking

So. Many. Essays. (And don’t get us started on referencing!) The good news is, now that you’ve graduated, you’ll probably never have to write one again. However, they weren’t just there for your tutors to torture you with! Any research projects or essays you were set required you to work independently, source and analyse information and think critically. With each essay, your ability to do these things gets stronger and stronger. Now you’re a pro!

It’s true that not every job will require you to do mountains of research. However, finding and/or compiling information, independent work and putting forward your own ideas and opinions will always come into play. So, as a graduate, employers will know that you have these vital skills. 

Self-motivation and independence

Think about how you felt when you first started uni. Nervous? Apprehensive? Petrified? The truth is, you’d never been quite so ‘on your own’ before. Rent, deadlines, shopping and laundry were just the tip of the iceberg. As the years went on, this all became second nature to you. What about all those readings, essays and projects you needed to complete? To begin with, you had no idea where to start, but you pushed yourself, stayed motivated and got things done. Go, you!

When it comes to the 9-5, the fact that you’ve completed your degree demonstrates that you’re ready to take on whatever work throws at you. Bosses need employees who can smash deadlines, targets and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) without needing someone to hold their hand. This is yet another reason why what you learned at university will stand you in good stead professionally.

See, we told you! Your degree wasn’t plain sailing, and the subject you studied may not help you in your desired field of work but it wasn’t a waste of time. You gained and nurtured some brilliant skills that will serve you well in the professional world.

Now, get out there and show them how awesome you are!

This article first appeared at Bridgewater UK