5 Tech Skills College Students Need to Know
BY MASSIEL RAMIREZ
Every spring, millions of college students face the same life-altering question: Am I ready to graduate?
Today’s college grads are digital natives. We’re the first generation who grew up with the internet and digital technology. Because of it, we’re expected to enter the workforce with a résumé of advanced tech skills unlike any other graduating class before us.
In There Is Life After College, Jeffrey Selingo says that college grads need to be digitally aware and that they need to stop treating tech tools with a passive attitude. Instead, they should learn the ins-and-outs of popular tech to become better equipped for post-graduate life. And you can easily master the following five tech skills before graduation to help you on your way.
- Know How to Google Properly
Searching for things on the internet is one of the first tech skills young kids learn, but college grads need to know how to search at an advanced, logistical level.
I’ve never seen “Master Googler” on a job application, but I can attest it’s vital in the professional world. When my boss wanted me to use the Yesware app I didn’t know existed, I did a quick Google search and found dozens of resources available online for free. I watched a video tutorial and read a quick guide, giving me the proficiency to confidently return to my boss and tell them I was familiar with the program.
At another job, a manager asked me to tabulate a formula on an Excel spreadsheet, an intermediate task I didn’t know how to do. But I searched for a how-to guide using keywords on the specific tasks my manager wanted me to accomplish and quickly upgraded my Excel status.
The key to better googling is to remember less is more. If you’d like to search for tips on freelancing from the CareerMetis homepage, search site:careermetis.com freelance tips.
If you’d like to find a local web designer position, you can add the specific location by searching web designer location:los angeles.
If you want to find an elementary teacher job in Texas but want to avoid Houston, add elementary teacher -Houston to your search engine.
I become a more valuable, competent employee by using better Google search tactics. I solved my tech problems rather than relying on my employer to teach me.
Where to learn for free: Read 20 Tips to Use Google Search Efficiently.
- Master Image Editing
Photography is a key part to building a brand. Marketers say their most important content for their business is blogging (38%), followed closely behind visual marketing (37%). And 65% of people are visual learners, which means they likely won’t remember texts or facts unless that information is paired with a photo or infographic.
The Muse lists image editing as the number-one skill that will aid a professional in their career. By using simple image editing tools in my career, I’ve helped my company by lightening an image for a higher-quality social media post, resizing an image for a blog and Instagram account, and inserting a company logo onto an image for an email newsletter.
Where to learn for free: Try Pixlr or Gimp, both free photo editors.
- Memorize Keyboard Shortcuts
A professional working the average eight-hour workday wastes eight days per year (two seconds per minute) by avoiding keyboard shortcuts, according to Brainscape. Utilizing keyboard shortcuts raised me from computer illiterate to computer geek. Rapidly typing keyboard keys to activate a computer function instead of fumbling for my mouse saved time and impressed my boss.
To get into the habit of using shortcuts, unplug or deactivate your mouse. It forces you to use the much-quicker keyboard shortcut option instead of wasting time clicking all over your screen.
Where to learn for free: Print out The 20 Most Common Keyboard Shortcuts Everyone Should Know list from Lifehacker, and keep it by your desk until you’ve got them memorized.
- Learn to Code
At one point or another, every company will need the skills of a computer programmer. In fact, coding skills were part of seven million job openings in 2015. Even former CEO of GE Jeff Immelt says every new hire—no matter their department—will know how to code. Coding is “becoming the most in-demand skill across industries,” according to Fast Company.
Knowing coding is a big plus to potential employers, and it can increase your earning power too. A PayScale report found that knowing Scala (a computer programming language) equates to a nearly 22% pay bump.
Where to learn for free: Take a free, online coding course or enroll in a beginner’s class at your university.
- Understand Data Analytics
Big data is a major buzzword now because properly analyzing it leads to better products and customer experiences. But 36% of managers say new college hires last year lacked in their data analysis skills.
Data analytics are especially critical for new grads today because the Internet of Things (IoT) is playing a key role in companies of all industries. By 2020, the number of installed IoT units will grow to twenty-six billion globally, but there’s a shortage of IT specialists who can process the data on new IoT products.
Many universities are now designing programs in data science, and last year, the first Internet of Things Degree was offered at FIU. But I didn’t need to major in data science to learn a few key data analytics tips and tricks. Forbes points out that professionals can still “add new stackable credentials” to their résumés by signing up for online courses and becoming more adept at IoT-analysis skills, like managing virtual teams or working with visual data techniques.
Where to learn for free: Watch the free Excel training videos on the ExcelIsFun YouTube channel or see if your college offers a course.
Take time to learn and master these tech basics—they aren’t just tech skills, they’re critical job skills that can help you for post-grad life. By mastering these skills during college, you can stay abreast of the competition and have a better chance for success in your chosen career field.
Massiel Ramirez graduated from Utah State University in Marketing and Business Administration. In addition to technology, she enjoys writing about social media and business. Follow her on Twitter @massielmarier, she’d love to hear from you!