Smart Moves for Liberal Arts Grads, by Sheila Curran and Suzanne Greenwald, tells the career stories of nearly two dozen recent grads who have thrived professionally after a liberal arts education.They’ve married their educational and experiential learning in ways that have helped them discover and follow their passions.Their “smart moves” are outlined at the end of each story. Sheila Curran has generously shared one of the “smartest” of the smart tips :
Identify your Competence Gaps
The higher you move in your career, the more likely you’ll be confronted with tasks and responsibilities with which you’re unfamiliar. Knowing what you don’t know is important. But far more important is figuring out how to acquire the knowledge or skills that you lack. In other words, you need to identify and fix your competence gap.
Assessing this shortfall, you need to ask two key questions: “Is the skill necessary for a field in which I want to stay?” and “Would the skill help me to achieve my future goals?” If the answer to either question is yes, you need to find a way to close the gap. The graduates in Smart Moves used the following methods to obtain the knowledge they needed:
1. Pursued further education, e.g., business or law school
2. Identified professional development opportunities offered through their organizations
3. Sought assignments that would help them to practice new skills
4. Found mentors who would act as sounding boards
Most important, you have to be open to assessing what you know and what you don’t. Be open to feedback. Ask for it frequently, and adjust your course based on what you hear.