Career Skills for Student Employees

Student employees have the opportunity to learn important career skills in their student employment positions. Learning these skills now, in an educational environment and with a great supervisor, makes them more prepared for the world of work. What are the skills that will prepare students for their first internship or full-time position? What does it look like to focus on these career skills in a student employment position?

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. These are the competencies that have informed the Career Skills below. Focus on these skills in your student employment positions.

  1. Critical Thinking/Problem Solving
    • Exercise sound reasoning to analyze issues, make decisions, and overcome problems.
    • Example: A research assistant needs to think critically about source materials for a report.
  2. Oral/Written Communication
    • Articulate thoughts and ideas clearly and effectively in written and oral forms to persons inside and outside of the organization.
    • Example: A front desk assistant needs to communicate professionally with the many people who come in with questions.
  3. Teamwork/Collaboration
    • Build collaborative relationships with colleagues and customers representing diverse cultures, races, ages, genders, religions, lifestyles, and viewpoints.
    • Example: A barista needs to coordinate their schedule and services with many team members in a fast-paced environment.
  4. Digital Technology
    • Leverage existing digital technologies ethically and efficiently to solve problems, complete tasks, and accomplish goals.
    • Example: A campus tour guide needs to manage Zoom and other technology to provide virtual tours.
  5. Leadership
    • Leverage the strengths of others to achieve common goals, and use interpersonal skills to coach and develop others.
    • Example: A swim coach needs to provide empowering guidance and support to their students.
  6. Professionalism/Work Ethic
    • Demonstrate personal accountability and effective work habits, e.g., punctuality, working productively with others, and time workload management, and understand the impact of non-verbal communication on professional work image.
    • Example: A tutor needs to navigate multiple identities as both a student and a professional tutoring other students.
  7. Career Management
    • Identify and articulate one’s skills, strengths, knowledge, and experiences relevant to the position desired and career goals, and identify areas necessary for professional growth.
    • Example: A student ambassador returning for a second year in their role needs to identify how they want to grow in the role.
  8. Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
    • Value, respect, and learn from diverse cultures, races, ages, genders, sexual orientations, and religions.
    • Example: A sustainability intern needs to conduct conversations about climate change 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 Director, Student Employment Stacey Stevens