Post #44 Straight A Words of Caution
If you answer is yes, I want to give you a cautionary congratulations. For those of you who obtain A’s in all your courses, be aware that even straight A students can be subject to pitfalls. You would think straight A’s on a transcript will always work in your favor. However, this is not necessarily the case. Read on to discover why employers might be suspicious of straight A’s and how you can prepare yourself.
Your Human Interactions
One of the most obvious ways employers rate their new hire candidates is by grade point average. This is a commonly held belief among our society. You may have been hearing this for most of your life. As a result, you naturally want to obtain as high a GPA as possible. A higher GPA is certainly desirable but at what cost? Are you engrossed in your studies so much that you avoid joining clubs, committees or extracurriculars? Do you avoid face-to-face conversations with your fellow humans? Are you dodging situations that would force you to interact with people outside of your engineering network? A large part of any future job involves mature interaction with people as well as the ability to communicate in multiple ways. Your college experience should help prepare you in this manner…unless you choose to hibernate in your room or in the library.
Your Soft Skills
I would like to take the previous paragraph one step further. Of course, you need to be able to interact with other adults. These adults will come from a variety of fields/majors. Some of your future coworkers will not have gone to college at all. Are you prepared to work with a variety of other people who come from a wide variety of backgrounds? I talked a little bit about soft skills in Post #26. Please read this blog post if you have not done so. I would like to emphasize to you that a large part of your professional success will involve diplomatic people skills. This includes the ability to keep a level head with others blow up. People skills involve the ability to influence and to persuade. Soft skills include using your emotional intelligence to observe others’ behaviors, form judgments and treat people accordingly. Working with other people is an art that you can learn to dominate over the course of time. Start now while you’re in school. Do anything and everything you can, within reason, to meet people and to involve yourself in teams/groups.
Your Other Desirable Qualities
Employers are looking for a “well-rounded” candidate to hire. You have probably heard that term before. If you haven’t, that’s okay because I am going to explain it here. A well-rounded candidate, in the employer’s eyes, possesses as many ideal qualities as possible. What are ideal qualities? This varies from employer to employer so I will generalize. In addition to earning spectacular grades, the ideal candidate is personable. The employer wants an engineer who knows how to relate well to other people. This engineer knows how to lead and take the initiative instead of waiting for instructions. The ideal candidate successfully communicates a willingness to learn, to make mistakes and to progresses over time. This person doesn’t complain, doesn’t get caught up in office drama and knows how to complete tasks. Of course, every candidate has their strengths and weaknesses, don’t get me wrong. However, all straight A students may want to ask yourselves: “What are my own unique and desirable skills other than straight A’s?”