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Odd Jobs to Technical Career: How Transferable Skills Set You Up for Success

Today's blog is written by MaryKate Wintz, 2017 Chemical Engineering Alumna currently working as a Process Development Engineer with The Lubrizol Corporation.

Buzz words during the job search almost always include “transferrable skills”, but what does that mean?  How can something that you do when you are in high school relate to your college school work, let alone an internship or entry level job in a technical career?  How can you find those skills that will allow you to move seamlessly from the classroom to workplace?

I started working when I was 14 years old as a cashier in the gift shop at a historic B&B.  From there, I held jobs ranging from receptionist to leasing agent to coach before finding my 5-term co-op with The Lubrizol Corporation.  As a graduate of Ohio State, I moved to Cleveland to work full time as a Process Development Engineer with Lubrizol. 

When I first started searching for co-ops and internships, I knew that I had no experience in anything technical.  Thinking about moving into something so different felt like a terrifyingly large step in my life at the time, and I wasn’t sure that I was going to be any good at the career path I had chosen.  In the job search, I had to determine skills that would make me marketable to a company, but I wasn’t sure if those were traits I truly held or if I was just looking for making situations I had been in tell a nice story.  After finding what set me apart from other candidates, I started trying to embody it more and more in my classwork and on-campus jobs.  This led to having even more examples of ways I displayed the traits I felt made me a valuable asset to a company.

As I transitioned from student to co-op, I realized that a lot of those skills I had identified and started working on really were strengths that I had.  I also recognized that I had some areas for development and learning on the job.  Being given the direct feedback on my performance throughout my co-op career helped to identify even more strengths and areas of improvement in my work, and this allowed for a smooth transition into my full time position. 

Change is never easy, but knowing that I had a skillset in my back pocket that allowed me to work well with others and think logically to find solutions to problems gave me the confidence in moving from high school into college, from college into my co-op, and from co-op to full time. 

"You have to let fear have to believe in yourself; you just have to." - Venus Williams

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