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Charlena will begin their doctoral studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, in fall 2018. Follow them on @cmichelleart or view their artist page.

As a graduate student, many of us can’t count on both hands how many times we’ve seen or heard the word interdisciplinary thrown around in emails, call for papers, and general conversations in the last semester alone. Though it may seem that interdisciplinary is a modern concept due to its buzzworthy nature in the past few years, it’s roots are Greek and speak to its long history within academia. Interdisciplinary can mean a plethora of things to many different people; however, a simplified definition is the crossing of two or more traditional fields of study.

While it may seem cliche, having interdisciplinary skill sets can be beneficial inside and outside of the ivory tower. Though it mostly has been conflated with academia, interdisciplinary studies has crossed professional settings, like how phone companies or power stations use employees with varying specialities to complete projects. For those nearing graduation, many job prospects outside of academia are looking for interdisciplinary methods and skillsets. While those skills are not exclusive to interdisciplinary studies, you can use those experiences to help shape your résumé. Therefore, utilizing those skills can help your résumé or CV stand out among others.

I’ve gathered five skills I’ve learned from my interdisciplinary studies that can be included in your résumé or CV.

  1. Collaboration -- When we think of interdisciplinary studies, we mostly think of working with others. While many of us may hate team projects, the “real world” involves us working together to solve problems. Building across fields can be helpful in working out a problem; therefore, having the ability to work with others and collaborate on projects for a common goal is critical. Collaboration can extend to networking, team exercises, and projects. Let employers know that you are a team player in the way you work with others by illustrating your experience with collaborative work.
  2. Communication -- Oral or written communication is important for any potential employee. Many employers want someone who is able to communicate effectively across multiple platforms and with many different people. Interdisciplinary work helps us better develop our communication skills and learn new ways of transmitting information and connecting with others who may be different from us. Be clear and concise about the ways that you are able to communicate and how your skills can benefit the company, including but not limited to foreign and technical languages you may know. Also, use spell check on your résumé!
  3. Research -- Surprisingly, many employers are looking for employees with great research skills, beyond postings for research analysts, research assistants, and the like. Those who know how to research products and analyze the data are needed. Knowing one’s strengths and weaknesses are critical to writing an effective section. Be sure to highlight your research strengths (including your graduate work) on your résumé like your ability to think critically, question yourself, employ new methods, and so forth!
  4. Flexibility -- All positions require some level of adaptability. Being open to change can be critical to how employers view your application. Employers want employees that are able to deal with new project deadlines, a vendor that backs out, or a last minute change. Interdisciplinary studies requires us to be flexible, after all, we may be working with other fields that we are totally ignorant about and sometimes the ideas that we had will no longer work. Highlight you the ways that you have succeeded during challenges and the ways that you have been able to keep a project on track.
  5. Interpersonal Skills -- Graduate school is a full-time job, and for many of us, we don’t have much time to explore outside of our program or field. Therefore, interdisciplinary studies allows us to move outside of our comfort zone and work on social skills. It’s great that you may have a high grade point average and your dissertation is outstanding, but how do you relate to others? Having the awareness of how we engage with others is an important skills that many employers are looking for in prospective employees. Let employers know how personable you are and how you might motivate others, especially those you manage. Be aware of the social climate of the company, and speak to the ways that you can contribute.

What are some skills you’ve learned in interdisciplinary studies or interdisciplinary projects to include on your résumé? Comment below!

[Image from Pexel user rawpixel, under the Creative Commons license.]