Career Skills for Students & Student Employees

Students and student employees have the opportunity to learn important career skills in their positions. Learning these skills now, in an educational environment and with a great supervisor, makes them more prepared for the world of work.

Based on extensive research among employers, a task force through the National Association for Colleges & Employers (NACE) has developed a definition for career readiness and identified eight competencies.

Career readiness is a foundation from which to demonstrate requisite core competencies that broadly prepare the college educated for success in the workplace and lifelong career management. For new college graduates, career readiness is key to ensuring successful entrance into the workforce. Career readiness is the foundation upon which a successful career is launched.

These competencies are the Career Skills below. We recommend reviewing additional sample behaviors of each of the skills below. To begin preparing for the future today, focus on these skills in your student employment positions:

  1. Critical Thinking
    • Identify and respond to needs based upon an understanding of situational context and logical analysis of relevant information.
    • Example: A research assistant collects information from a diverse set of sources and individuals to fully understand a problem.
  2. Communication
    • Clearly and effectively exchange information, ideas, facts, and perspectives with persons inside and outside of an organization.
    • Example: A front desk assistant communicates in a clear and organized manner so that others can effectively understand with the many people who come in with questions
  3. Teamwork
    • Build and maintain collaborative relationships to work effectively toward common goals, while appreciating diverse viewpoints and shared responsibilities.
    • Example: A barista is accountable for their schedule and coordinates with many team members in a fast-paced environment.
  4. Technology
    • Understand and leverage technologies ethically to enhance efficiencies, complete tasks, and accomplish goals.
    • Example: A campus tour guide manages Zoom and other technology to provide virtual tours.
  5. Leadership
    • Recognize and capitalize on personal and team strengths to achieve organizational goals.
    • Example: A swim coach provides empowering guidance and support to their students.
  6. Professionalism
    • Knowing work environments differ greatly, understand and demonstrate effective work habits, and act in the interest of the larger community and workplace.
    • Example: A tutor navigates multiple identities as both a student and a professional tutoring other students.
  7. Career & Self-Development
    • Proactively develop oneself and one’s career through continual personal and professional learning, awareness of one’s strengths and weaknesses, navigation of career opportunities, and networking to build relationships within and without one’s organization.
    • Example: A student ambassador returning for a second year in their role identifies how they want to grow in the role.
  8. Equity & Inclusion
    • Demonstrate the awareness, attitude, knowledge, and skills required to equitably engage and include people from different local and global cultures. Engage in anti-racist practices that actively challenge the systems, structures, and policies of racism.
    • Example: A sustainability intern conducts conversations about campus improvement needs with people from many different backgrounds.

Trainings offered through Student Employees Achieve and Supervisors Achieve will visit these skills. Questions? Contact Student Employment (

By Stacey Stevens
Stacey Stevens Executive Director, Employer Connections & Alumni Career Engagement