Career Readiness in Practice: A Day in the Life

The “National Association of Colleges and Employers” (NACE) has identified 8 core Career Readiness Competencies as being highly valued by employers and considered key predictors of career success. These include Career & Self-Development, Communication, Critical Thinking, Equity & Inclusion, Leadership, Professionalism, Teamwork, and Technology.  

If you want an example of how integral these competencies and their associated behaviors are in everything that you will do in the workplace, check out one of Jenn’s typical days at work. 

8:15am / Preparing for a productive day: Jenn arrived at her workplace earlier than usual. She had a full schedule for that day and wanted to make sure that she got off to a good start by managing her time effectively and re-checking the work material she had prepared for her team meeting and presentation. This was her seventh month in the job, and she was eager to demonstrate her professionalism by being responsible and accountable for the quality of her work.   

9:00am / Training: Jenn started her day by participating in a training course for project management software. Using this technology would help her become more efficient and productive in her work. She had recently earned her bachelor’s degree from UConn but understood the importance of continuing to enhance her career and self-development at every opportunity. While at UConn, she had taken full advantage of the available diverse resources and opportunities to further develop her knowledge, skills, and experiences and she wanted to continue do the same with the resources offered by her employer.  

9:45am / Staying on top of things: After taking a short break, Jenn went through her email inbox to see if there were any emails that she needed to respond to or initiate any communication herself. She knew that her colleagues relied on her for the accurate and timely communication of specific information to them and she in turn relied on them for the successful completion of certain aspects of her work. 

10:15am / Team meeting: Jenn and her team met to discuss an ongoing project. There was disagreement within the team as to how to proceed to the next stage of the project, so effective teamwork and strong critical thinking were required to achieve consensus on the team’s next course of action. Jenn had her own thoughts about what the best way forward was, but she recognized the benefits of working on an inclusive team with individuals that had diverse backgrounds and experiences. During the team meeting, she leveraged her strong communication skills to actively listen to diverse perspectives while communicating her own views in a constructive and respectful way. She was also prepared to challenge her own assumptions and biases as she understood that this was an important part of her career and self-development. Towards the end of the meeting, Jenn volunteered to lead a certain aspect of the team project as this would provide her with an excellent opportunity to practice and enhance her leadership skills. 

11:30am / Chat with the supervisor: Jenn had scheduled a meeting with her supervisor to discuss her ongoing projects and other work-related topics. Her supervisor found the meeting productive as Jenn had made sure to communicate her progress clearly and concisely. In preparing for this meeting, Jenn had applied her critical thinking to determine what information she needed to communicate, while anticipating her supervisor’s potential questions. She also offered to collaborate with her supervisor on new projects, seeing this as another opportunity to strengthen her teamwork skills,  while enhancing her  career and self-development

12:30pm / Lunch Break: Jenn spent her lunch break getting to know some of her new colleagues. She enjoyed talking to individuals with diverse backgrounds as it helped her familiarize herself with their cultures and ways of doing things. Jenn also took action to contribute to a diverse and inclusive workplace by asking one of her colleagues what she could do to become more actively involved in diversity and anti-racism initiatives within her workplace.       

1:00pm / Presentation: Jenn had been tasked with presenting the benefits of a new technology to a non-technical audience. While preparing her presentation, Jenn had taken the time to modify her content so that she could communicate the benefits of the technology that she was presenting on in way that would be easily understood by an audience that didn’t have a background in technology. She also made sure her presentation was engaging and impactful by using charts and graphs to visualize the data she had collected and analyzed from various sources. During the presentation, Jenn used her thorough understanding of the topic she was presenting to check her audience’s level of understanding and provide them with answers using her critical thinking and reasoning skills

2:00pm / Work on an independent project: Jenn had scheduled time to work on an ongoing independent project that  she had recently been assigned to. It was the first time that she was going to work on this kind of  project, but she relished the opportunity to enhance her career and self-development by engaging in challenging work that placed her outside her comfort zone. Knowing how important this project was for her employer, Jenn had set specific goals that would allow her to successfully complete her work on time. She had spent the last two weeks communicating with colleagues from various departments to collect the information that she needed to get her project underway. She then used her critical thinking to analyze and organize the information so that she could make an informed decision on how to proceed. On this particular day, she focused on an issue that she anticipated could become a problem as her work on the project progressed. She had identified the potential root cause of the issue and was already thinking of creative and innovative ways of dealing with it. However, she first wanted to seek the guidance and advice of some of her more experienced colleagues before deciding on the best course of action for proactively solving the potential problem. She understood that their diverse views and perspectives would not only help her make better decisions but could also prevent her from making any significant mistakes.  

4:00pm / Tying up loose ends and preparing for the next day at work: As her workday wound down, Jenn checked her emails to see if there had been any developments since the morning and if she needed to reach out to or follow-up with anyone. She also checked her work schedule for the following day to make sure that there was nothing more that she needed to do in terms of preparation.    

Get started on your Career Readiness journey by enrolling in our Become Career Ready module on HuskyCT! Instructions on how to register can be found here: Get Started on Your Career Readiness Journey – UConn Center for Career Development

By Theo Menounos
Theo Menounos Assistant Director, Career Readiness Competencies, Liaison for Engineering, Physics, Chemistry