What did you learn at school that helped you succeed in your career? We tend to be skeptical and see school merely as a place to get a degree that would open the door for our career to begin. And then we see this big scary gap between learning and experience. I would argue that any graduate can have a pretty strong resume proving he or she can do the job, even if they’ve never worked for anyone.

The following are the examples of transferable skills that you can use on your resume and during your interviews. A lot of what you do at school is similar to what you’ll do at work.

  • School is a gym for learning. It’s an opportunity to learn how you can gain new knowledge and skills. You are learning about how you learn best.  And you’ll need this skill for the rest of your life and career if you want to maximize on your potential.
  • Each assignment you are working on teaches you attitudes that are crucial at work – accountability, time management, dealing with stress, self-awareness, dealing with ambiguity, prioritizing, creativity…
  • Each team project is a platform to practice collaboration – dividing responsibilities, delegation, dealing with dependencies, building trust, resolving conflict, working with diverse group of people, influencing others, leadership, commitment…
  • Some tasks you are asked to do are totally boring and not exciting. Guess what, that happens even in the best jobs. That’s reality.
  • At school, you may need to create an innovative solution to a hypothetical problem.  Take advantage of that. That’s your sandbox, your opportunity to fail and learn from it. At work, you’ll also be asked to innovate and be creative, but the problems will be very, very real.

Don’t be scared if you lack the job experience. Look at all the experience you’ve had at school and think of it as a work experience.

However, you have to be also very much aware of the differences between school and work. What made you successful at school may not necessarily make you a star performer at work.

Here are some differences:


  • Success at school is highly reactive – someone else is telling you what to do. You only do what you are asked to do.
  • If you follow the rubric, you’ll get a good grade. The rules are right there and the system is usually pretty fair.
  • At school, you can only collaborate with others when a teacher says so. Otherwise it’s considered cheating. You are in it alone.
  • At school, the goal is to pass a test and get good grades. After that you are done.
  • Popularity at school has not much to do with your success as a student. You can have all As and be hated by all around.


  •  Success at work depends on your proactivity, drive, and your willingness to raise your hand and propose what can be done.
  • At work, everything is relative. You may do all you thought was necessary, but if the rest of the team did more, you are doomed.
  • At work, your success depends on your ability to collaborate, leverage, maximize on the resources around.
  • At work, your goal is to produce something of a value for others – for your boss, coworkers, organization` customers, stakeholders, partners…
  • How others perceive youat work greatly impacts your success at work.
By looking at all of your experiences at school and asking “How can this experience relate to a real job experience?” you can maximize on your school years and feel empowered for your job hunt.


Henrieta Riesco is a founder of Intentional Career. She is all about meaningful conversation to empower professionals on their career journey. After experiences of being a teacher and a corporate trainer in Slovakia, a customer advocate and a training consultant for 10+ years at Microsoft, she is comfortable with calling herself a Career Coach. You can follow Henrieta via Twitter, or via her blog.