Competencies and Career Readiness

What is career readiness?

Career readiness is the attainment and demonstration of competencies that broadly prepare college graduates for a successful transition to the workplace. Think about the competencies that enable you to succeed. These can include broader areas such as global/intercultural fluency or leadership, but can also encompass what we and many employers refer to as transferable skills, such as the ability to work in a team. All competencies can be developed over time through a variety of experiences (community service, internships, student clubs, coursework) and apply to many career fields. Based on competencies developed by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), Fort Lewis College Career Services is committed to helping students develop/enhance the following competencies:

Critical Thinking / Problem Solving

Exercise sound reasoning to analyze issues, make decisions, and overcome problems. The individual is able to obtain, interpret, and use knowledge, facts, and data in this process, and may demonstrate originality and inventiveness. Strategies for developing this competency:

Oral / Written Communications

Articulate thoughts and ideas clearly and effectively in written and oral forms to persons inside and outside of the organization. The individual has public speaking skills; is able to express ideas to others; and can write/edit memos, letters, and complex technical reports clearly and effectively. Strategies for developing this competency:

Civic Engagement

Work with others to define, analyze, and address public, political, or community problems. The individual is able to deliberate with others, collaborate to make change, and form relationships that manifest such civic virtues as tolerance and respect. Strategies for developing this competency:

Teamwork / Collaboration

Build collaborative relationships with colleagues and customers representing diverse cultures, races, ages, genders, religions, lifestyles, and viewpoints. The individual is able to work within a team structure and can negotiate and manage conflict. Strategies for developing this competency:

  • Join a team and remember that teams take many forms (e.g., a student club or organization, sports team, volunteer group); create your own team by forming a study group with peers
  • Think about using a Responsibility Assignment (RACI) Matrix to make sure each task is assigned to someone and each person knows what to do (for more information about using this tool, including examples, visit this site or this site)
  • Watch “How to Turn a Group of Strangers into a Team”(a Ted NYC Talk from Amy Edmonson)
  • Organize an abroad or domestic volunteer service trip during a school break

Digital Technology

Leverage existing digital technologies ethically and efficiently to solve problems, complete tasks, and accomplish goals. The individual demonstrates effective adaptability to new and emerging technologies. Strategies for developing this competency:

Global / Intercultural Fluency

Value, respect, and learn from diverse cultures, races, ages, genders, sexual orientations, and religions. The individual demonstrates openness, inclusiveness, sensitivity, and the ability to interact respectfully with all people and understand individual differences. Strategies for developing this competency:


Leverage strengths of others to achieve common goals and use interpersonal skills to coach and develop others. The individual is able to assess and manage emotions; use empathetic skills to guide and motivate; and organize, prioritize, and delegate work. Strategies for developing this competency:

Remember, leadership can be demonstrated in many ways, both through more informal roles, as well as formal ones.

Professionalism / Work Ethic

Demonstrate effective work habits and personal accountability, e.g., working productively with others, practicing punctuality and time management, and understanding the impact of non-verbal communication on professional work image. The individual demonstrates integrity and ethical behavior, acts responsibly with the interests of the larger community in mind, and is able to learn from mistakes. Strategies for developing this competency:

  • Secure a paid or unpaid job or internship that will allow you to develop professional skills (review job & internship listings— includes on/off-campus and work study/non-work study jobs)
  • Manage an event for a club or organization while sticking to a strict timeline
  • Regularly curate your digital content to ensure that you’re presenting a professional image to potential employers and others

Career Management

Identify and articulate one’s strengths, knowledge, and experiences relevant to the position desired and career goals and identify areas necessary for professional growth. The individual is able to navigate/explore job options, understands and can take the steps necessary to pursue opportunities, and understands how to self-advocate for opportunities in the workplace. Strategies for developing this competency: