Transferrable Skills

What does waitressing at Red Robin have to do with being a TV news reporter? 

Everything, as it turns out.  I learned that myself, right out of college.  I had spent a couple of years during school running burgers and shakes to tables full of hungry guests, grabbing ketchup along the way, remembering who liked to keep their “bottomless” fries full ALL the time.  Then, in my first two jobs out of journalism school, it hit me: reporting the news on TV is a lot like waiting tables.  You have to multi-task, you have to be friendly and professional.  You have to hustle and juggle and be everywhere at once.  You can’t be shy.  The skills I had learned were transferable  And boy, were they valuable to journalism employers.  I had a job within a month of graduation.

But wait… my only job so far has been scooping ice cream.  What skills do I have?

At a recent conference on social media best practices, while casually chatting with my tables-mates, we realized that five of the six of us had scooped ice cream in our first jobs.  Now, we all managed social media communications to some extent, for our organizations.  Are ice cream lovers just naturally chatty people?  Maybe.  But we realized the common denominator in all of our first jobs was the need to communicate with customers: find out their favorite flavor, ask them how their day was going (more conversation = better tips!), inquire about their cup or cone preference.  The name of game in ice cream shops is making people happy, and one way to do that is to find out what they like.  Learning to do that can translate well into any communications-related job.

OK, got it – but I can’t just put “great communicator” on my resume – can I?!

Students and recent grads may not always value the work they’ve done so far, or understand how to articulate these transferrable skills on a resume.  In my daily resume review sessions with students, I frequently hear “I haven’t really done anything,” or “I don’t have any experience.”  But when I really dive into their resumes, I find students have performed valuable tasks and contributed in many ways.  Whether as the leader of your sorority’s philanthropy efforts (tell employers the percentage increase in donations, due to your efforts, and you might land a job in development or fundraising), or as the creator of your own brand of t-shirts (entrepreneurial career, anyone?) – don’t discount what you’ve done.  Do you code your own video games, just for fun? Those skills are in demand. Meet with a career counselor at your institution to find out which of your skills are highly-desired by employers.

So now you’ve got the scoop!

Take advantage of all that your college or university has to offer, while you’re still a student.  There are friendly career services folks hungry to help you show employers how valuable your skills are.  It’s time to take the first step in capturing your transferable skills, before the ice cream melts!


All the Best,

Christine Mahoney



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