In college, our main focus is specializing in our chosen major(s). There is no doubt that this is extremely important to land a job in your desired profession. Having a specialty and the correct credentials for a job is the first step, but something that we can all start becoming more aware of, which will benefit us in the long-run, is our emotional intelligence.
What is emotional intelligence? Emotional Intelligence is, “the ability to understand and manage your own emotions, and those of the people around you.” People with a high degree of emotional intelligence know what they're feeling, what their emotions mean, and how these emotions affect other people. People with high EI know themselves very well, and are able to sense emotional needs of others. Because of this, they tend to be better leaders - they are the ones that others want on their team. This is important whether you are a business major, religion major, education major, environmental studies major, etc. every job will include working with people.
If you are skeptical of my advice, I would point you to this Video by Dr. Daniel Goleman. In this video, Goleman does an excellent job discussing how you can move up in your profession by increasing yourself to be self-motivated and emotionally intelligent.
How can I improve my EI?
The good news is, unlike IQ, your EI is not concrete. Self-assess your emotional strengths and weaknesses. You can do this by observing how you react to people, analyzing your work environment, and examining your reactions to stress. Are you humble? Confident? Empathetic?
Being honest with yourself about what you should improve on. Once you know this, see what small steps you can make now that can have a snowball effect and make a big difference. Maybe you should journal every night and see if that helps you get your thoughts in order, maybe you need to make sure you have time with friends to listen and vent with them, or maybe it’s an internal step, feeling more self-confident and realizing your feelings are justified. Whatever it is, try tackling one thing at a time, and soon enough you will start seeing results.
I’m already so busy studying, isn’t that a better use of my time?
In college we need to find balance. Time management is a life-long battle, but making sure you find a good balance between work and life, is essential to your overall happiness. You cannot put all your eggs in one basket, if you aren’t focusing on things outside of work, your work will suffer. I’m telling you to find time for yourself and enhance your interpersonal skills. These skills are important for all majors, and now is the time to start harnessing them and putting them to good use. Think about it – chances are, the people you are competing with for a job probably have the same degree, and are equally as qualified for the position as you are. One thing that will set you apart is your emotional intelligence and how this gives you quality interpersonal skills. Don’t assume that your potential employer will know you can communicate effectively and that you handle stress well, be prepared to tell them that you are emotionally intelligent and can effectively work with others and stay grounded in stressful situations.
The key to emotional intelligence is to realize its importance. The higher your EI, the more efficient a student, employee, and leader you will become. Making you the perfect job candidate!