Dollars and Sense

Though having a knack for math, accounting, or stats is considered necessary for a successful career in the world of finance – leadership, research, critical thinking, and communication, are also coveted skill sets. Regardless of the position you hold, you will be accountable to others and need to convey ideas and opinions, as well as report to stakeholders, clients, bosses, the government, and more. Below are strategies to help translate the world of numbers into a language anyone can follow, so you become career-ready.

Leadership: Holding any officer or chair position will position you to make decisions and persuade others. If the position involves managing money, great, but if not, it is still valuable. The committee chairperson or club president organizes people and ideas, oversees decisions, and moves forward an agenda. A financial advisor would demonstrate similar skills when helping a client choose an investment, as part of their big picture and future. The club treasurer might have to anticipate expenses, create a budget, and petition a board to acquire funds. Think Shark Tank: those requesting funds must be persuasive and comprehensive, able to answer questions quickly and accurately. They need to know their assets while also demonstrating their ability to connect with people.

Research and Critical Thinking: Taking research classes, reading magazines like Forbes, Money, or Bloomberg, or perhaps analyzing websites like The Motley Fool, will continually direct or redirect your brain to challenge the status quo, deciding if what you read is credible or not. You will learn new terms, apply theories, and determine which content is worth pursuing. Having the ability to understand formulas is of course relevant, yet if you cannot articulate and comprehend further implications, being good with numbers is not enough.

Communication: Being able to speak, write, and listen in clear and concise ways will facilitate the transactions a finance expert wants to convey.  Whether advising a client on the merits of a stock option or listening to the CFO identify the company’s vision, having good communication skills are essential for success. While still in college, take advantage of opportunities to hone your writing (extra W course anyone?), speak publicly, and/or take a course or attend an event, out of your comfort zone, so you really listen to what is being said. The ability to effectively communicate will differentiate you from your peers and colleagues, showing that you are more than just the numbers person.

Read more about career competencies and becoming career ready.

By Beth E Settje
Beth E Settje Associate Director, Experiential Learning & College to Career Transitions | Pronouns: She/Her