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Teen Talk

March 1, 2014

A Word of Advice: It's never too early to work on soft skills

If somebody on the street asks you your best characteristics, you’ll probably start telling them about how good you are with kids or how articulate you can be.

However, when you get asked about your qualifications, you’ll probably talk about your academic abilities and accomplishments.

The thing is, in many of today’s occupations, particularly ones teens would be involved, with that feature a lot of customer service work, so-called “soft skills” are more valuable than ever, and slowly, experiences are becoming just as valuable as academics.

Experiences and volunteer work have always been valuable when applying to colleges, but it’s important to remember what they can offer beyond filling lines on an application. Volunteer work, while also warming the heart, can also build solid skills in whatever type of work you’re doing, whether it be with people, animals or construction. Many of these skills aren’t ones that can be easily picked up in the classroom, at least directly, so it’s always worth it to step out once in a while and help those in need, while at the same time helping yourself, and building your future.

Schools offer many experiences similar to volunteer work in the ways they build soft skills and give teens real-world work experience that can be applicable to life after high school in many cases. Within the local area in particular, programs such as Votec and New Visions offer training and internships in things such as construction, medical treatment, law and government, and many other career fields that will make you stand out among other people hungry for higher schooling and job placement. More so than anything, though, they can let you see whether you actually want to invest your time and money into getting a degree toward working in a certain field. It might be valuable if you, for example, aspire to work as a nurse, however, find that in the New Visions you despise the large volume of bodily fluids and other nastiness involved and discover you would never want to make it a lifelong career path.

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