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Being a Team Player: Your Key to a Successful Career

Being a Team Player: Your Key to a Successful Career

Learning technical skills is vital to landing a job and launching a successful career, and much has been made of the importance of a STEM education. Even so, there is much more to a great career than science, technology, engineering and math. 

Whether you plan to find employment in a STEM field or another, non-technical, endeavor, the soft skills you possess could prove just as important, if not more so, than your ability to decipher scientific equations or add up columns of numbers.

These so-called soft skills are seldom taught in schools, but they could be the key to your future career. Whether you are still in high school, preparing for college or getting ready to graduate, learning to be a team player should be near the top of your priority list.

Being a team player is not always easy, and these soft skills come easier to some than others. If you are naturally gregarious and outgoing, you may find it easier to work on a team or take charge of a challenging project. For the more introverted, being a team player can be more of a challenge, but there are things you can do to train yourself and make things easier.

If you are still in school, you can work on being a team player in a safe environment, preparing for your future career while bonding with your fellow students. Teamwork and cooperation may not be formally taught at many schools, but teachers often incorporate team building exercises into their classrooms.

Identifying your strengths and building on them is a big part of being a team player, so look for ways to use the skills you already have. If you are the outgoing type, you may feel comfortable taking charge from the start, organizing your co-workers, or fellow students, into teams. If you tend to fade into the background, you could use your other strengths, supporting your fellow team members and keeping everyone on track. 

Flexibility is a valuable asset when it comes to being a team player and building other soft skills, as is learning to see things from the other person's perspective. This perspective-taking could be valuable in other aspects of your life as well, including personal relationships as well as career development.

If you need to work on your flexibility, try to identify several different ways to accomplish a single goal. No matter what the project or assignment, chances are there is more than one way to make it work. By identifying these alternative solutions, you can learn to think outside the box, building on what you already know while developing additional skills.

Those skill-building exercises can be extremely valuable for the development of your career, not just your success in the classroom. Employers are always looking for out-of-the-box thinkers, men and women who can look at problems in unique and creative ways and develop equally unique and creative solutions.

Whether you are in high school or college, you will probably not take a class in teamwork. Even so, there are things you can do to develop expertise in team building, and these essential soft skills could help you land a great job and get started on a successful career.

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