Problem-solving skills can be a lifesaver

Most colleges are quick to advertise that they are here to prepare students for their transition into the workforce. However, how often does a classroom setup actually prepare you for what your job is actually going to be like? The answer is very seldom.

When working an actual job, very few times are you going to have someone who is going to hold your hand and walk you through processes that you do not understand. In most cases, you are going to be expected to figure these problems out on your own.

Generally in classes, if you do not understand an assignment or how a particular program works, you email or set up a meeting time with your professor. They will then do the best they can to teach you what you should be doing or the best way to go about getting things figured out.

Along with that, as students, we find a lot of comfort in rubrics which provide us with a general idea of what is expected of us. We know exactly how to get the grade we want because the expectations of our professors are right there in front of us.

This is not something that can be said for the workplace. A good portion of the time your supervisor is not going to voice their expectations for you. You are just going to have to know not only what is expected of you, but also how to accomplish those expectations.

What can you do to prepare yourself for the workforce then? Is it possible to learn some of the problem-solving methods that college does not always teach? Of course, there is. You just have to be willing to step out of that typical comfort zone.

To begin with, when problems arise, try to fix them on your own. We have a tendency to turn to someone we view as knowing the subject better the minute something goes wrong. This creates a dependency on someone else when we encounter something that challenges us.

This doesn’t mean that you should never email your professor. However, give yourself time to figure it out on your own first. There are a lot of tutorials for software programs that you don’t understand. There are also videos for understanding every subject under the sun, you just have to be willing to look.  

If you find that you still can’t find the answers you are looking for, then it may be time to seek help. Even if you have to seek help, in the end, you have worked on your problem-solving skills. You may also be surprised by how many things you can actually figure out on your own when you just dig a little deeper.

Not every class is going to be the same. You may have professors that push you to teach yourself a lot of the materials. However, college overall has a tendency to create students who rely on others heavily to show them how to get something done.

When it’s your GPA and grade on the line, seeking help immediately is expected, and we are all guilty of it sometimes. Consider taking a step back and seeing if you can solve the problem first, though. You may find that self-taught problem-solving ability to be a lifesaver when you are working your first job.