The Skill You’ll Get Hired For at Student Life Network

Just the one.

Meet Katherine (Kat) Lourenco, she’s our Director of Custom Projects (at least, that’s what her LinkedIn profile says).

Kat helps get opportunities like Canada’s Luckiest Student and #TopshopTuesday into your hands, by making sure everyone from our partners to our creative teams has the runway, clearance, and fuel they need to take off. Think: air-traffic-controller-meets-personal-trainer.

And sometimes, Kat’s job involves hiring new people to join our team. The following is her career advice to students.

What makes you good at your job?

“If you put me in a room of people, I will immediately start to problem solve. I will immediately start figuring out: what are we doing and why are we doing it?”

“It took me 5 years after graduation to accept and be like, ‘Okay, this is who I am, and this is what I do. I solve problems.'”

“I used to be that annoying person in a group project who was trying to dig in, to carve out only the necessary info. Like, ‘Guys, what are we doing? Why are we even talking about that?'”

“In fifteen years that hasn’t changed. I still do that in meetings.”

Is that really a skill you can make a living with?

“I didn’t see it at first. I wanted my work to be tangible, for there to be a visible result, like a writer or a designer.”

“It took me 5 years after graduation to accept and be like, ‘Okay, this is who I am, and this is what I do. I solve problems.'”

How can young people find a skill like that in themselves?

“Look at the qualities that can’t be taken away from you. The value you bring that isn’t tied to someone else, or your title, or your role.”

“For example, look at the way you are in a group of people. Especially one you’re comfortable in.”

“What do you naturally do? Are you the quiet listener, are you constantly assessing, do you start making plans, do you try to make everyone happy?”

“And then look at what gets your adrenaline going—is it connection with others, is it checking items off your list, is it playing with ideas?”

“You might feel like you have to know all the answers, but as a leader, you just need to be able to figure out how to find them.”

“You don’t instinctively think, ‘What do I bring to this job? Well, I’m chill, and I love chatting over coffee.’ But those are ultimately the things that are going to make you successful.”

“To me, saying, ‘Oh, I have ten years of project management experience’ makes me think, ‘So what? You could have ten years of being a shitty project manager under your belt.'”

Why do you think this way?

“To do what I do, the only skill you need is problem solving. You might feel like you have to know all the answers, but as a leader, you just need to be able to figure out how to find them.”

“It might be that you are never the person who comes up with that answer or process, but you know who on your team to ask for it. And you know how to build a team that fills those gaps for you.”

Is that for real?

“In my interview for my first ‘real’ job, my interviewer asked me if I knew how to design a website. I was like, ‘Yeah, of course.'”

“I ended up getting the job partially based on the fact that I could design and build a website.”

“In that interview, could I design a site for them right then and there? Actually, no.”

“Oh here it comes, now I gotta figure out how to build a website.”

“But, did I know that I knew how to figure out how to build a site? I did.”

“I had taken an intro class, and I had the internet at my disposal.”

“I kind of forgot about it until one day they came up to me and were like, ‘Yeah so we were thinking you could build a site to do this.'”

“And I was like, ‘Oh here it comes, now I gotta figure out how to build a website.'”

“I went home that night and built them a site.”

So you don’t have to really start out with any particular hard skills to be successful?

“I remember being sixteen, and I was in a job interview for a Cashier position at Sobeys, and the woman interviewing me asked, ‘Do you have any experience?'”

“I admitted, ‘This would be my first job.'”

“And she told me, ‘That’s not a negative. That’s actually a plus. It means you have no bad habits, it means you’re gonna come in here without assumptions and I’m going to teach you exactly how I want [the job] done.'”

“A lot of people think you have to be qualified for a job to get that job.”

“That’s not true. I think you have to be qualified by the end of that first year at the job. I’ve learned on the job every time.”

And so, problem solving is the one skill you hire for, too?

“Always. I don’t care that you have any experience doing the specific role I’m hiring for.”

“I care that you’ve shown an ability to learn, that you’re interested in being here, and that you’re going be a good member of my team.”

Dana Iskoldski

Dana Iskoldski

Dana Iskoldski is the Editor-At-Large at Student Life Network and CampusRankings.