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Monday 9:00 am - 5:00 pm Tuesday 9:00 am - 8:00 pm Wednesday 9:00 am - 8:00 pm Thursday 10:00 am - 5:00 pm Friday 9:00 am - 5:00 pm

Fernando, Gihan S
Executive Director

Butler Pavilion, Room 5th Floor

Career Center 4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW Washington, DC 20016-8033-8011 United States

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Career Skills Initiative

silhouettes of heads with icons representing the six skill inside each head

To help students maximize their potential for future employment, the Career Center has developed the Career Skills Initiative to help students identify ways to enhance their academic and professional skills through course work, educational programs and events, and career development opportunities.

Employers consistently identify the skills below as vital components of long-term career success (in surveys conducted by the Association of American Colleges and Universities, the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the AU Career Center, and others.)

Jump to skill:

Oral Communication

The ability to verbally articulate your thoughts and ideas clearly and effectively with your colleagues and outside of your organization.

The #1 Skill Employers Value

"Must have strong oral and written communication skills."

If you've searched for a job or internship, you've seen this requirement in one form or another. According to the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), the ability to communicate orally is the number one competency sought by employers.

So, what does it mean to have strong oral communication skills, and how does your degree prepare you to use oral communication skills in the workplace? The good news is that your American University degree and campus experiences do develop this skill, whether you've majored in the liberal arts and sciences or business.

Keep reading on the My Career Advisor blog.

Oral Communication


SOC Career Advisor Felicia Parks discusses tools for improving your oral communication skills.

Big Interview

Prepare for your next interview with various scenarios, including initial screenings, behavior-based questioning, and panel interviews.

Log in to Handshake for instructions on creating your Big Interview account. If you already have an account, log in to Big Interview.

Reserve an Interview Room

Reserve an interview room in the Career Center and use our computer and webcam to practice interviewing. To reserve, call us at 202-885-1804.Interview room with small table, two chairs, phone, and paintings on the walls

Written Communication

The ability to articulate your thoughts and ideas clearly and effectively in writing with your colleagues and outside of your organization.

What does 'writing well' mean, anyway? Every day we read email and texts, perhaps articles or essays; in an employer's case, he or she also reads many resumes, cover letters, and personal statements.

Whether you're writing a resume, an email or an academic essay, writing skills are critical.

Read more on the My Career Advisor blog for tips on writing clearly and effectively.

Written Communication


Meet Isobel Araujo, student and team player. Here are some tips from her about developing your writing skills. According to employers, it's one of the top 6 skills that will get you hired.

young woman with curly red hair uses Mac laptop

Solid communication skills are important in the workplace. Learn the four types and how to be most effective. Watch Career Spots Communication video.


The ability to build collaborative relationships with colleagues and customers representing diverse cultures, races, ages, genders, religions, lifestyles, and viewpoints.

Most projects/tasks in the workplace are carried out by teams. What do you need to do to make sure you're a productive and successful team member at your future workplace? How would you market your team readiness to your future employer?

AU students have no shortage of excellent teamwork opportunities as an integral part of their AU experience through academic studies, internships and extracurricular activities.

Keep reading on the My Career Advisor blog to learn more.



Meet Catalina Calachan, student and team player. Here are some tips from her about developing your teamwork skills. According to employers, it's one of the top 6 skills that will get you hired.

two men and a woman meet in a modern collaborative space with floor to ceiling white boards and a large screen

Teamwork and collaboration are key components that drive business success. Understand their importance and learn the best ways and showcase these skills to future employers. Watch the teamwork video on CareerSpots.

Critical Thinking/Analytical Reasoning

The ability to obtain, interpret, and use knowledge, facts, and data to analyze situations, make decisions, and solve workplace problems.

The successful candidate will…

"Provide research and analysis…"

"Experiment with new and creative ways to leverage our activities…"

"Analyze quantitative and qualitative data…"

If you have seen position descriptions with phrases like these, you are looking at jobs where you will be expected to demonstrate your critical thinking and analytical reasoning skills. So, what does it mean to have these skills, and how will you show an employer you fit the bill?

Your American University degree and extracurricular experiences have helped develop and demonstrate these skills, regardless of your major. Consider your academic experiences. If you have participated in academic research, classroom discussions, capstone projects, etc., you have demonstrated these skills. If you have created a program, hosted a fundraiser, or founded an organization you have also demonstrate these skills.

Decision Making & Ethical Judgment

The ability to act with integrity, critically examine your own values, and respect how different values might be applied to address complex and ambiguous problems.

The ability to act with integrity, critically examine your own values, and respect how different values might be applied to address complex and ambiguous problems.

Watch a CareerSpots video on professionalism and work ethic

Quantitative/Applied Technology

The ability to work with numbers and understand statistics, generate and manipulate data using technological tools, and stay current on changing technologies and their applications in the workplace.

While the top five skills in our Career Skills Initiative are critical to developing a professional career, it is often a specific applied skill that can make the difference in whether or not you get that first job. What are these skills? That depends on your discipline. If you are interested in social sciences, and seek a job as a research assistant, then the ability to analyze quantitative and qualitative data is key. Add another statistics class, and increase your proficiency in Stata, SPSS or Qualtrics, for example. Are you interested in communications? The ability to design, create and edit websites will supplement your writing skills. Find out what skills are most in demand in your field through research: conduct information interviews in your field, research the career, and peruse the job listings. What tools do employers want you to know? Refer to our “Related Links” tab to identify resources for learning this skills, such as, available for free to AU students.

young african-american man wearing glasses and white lab coat using ipad to record information. background: room with pipes and guages

Digital technology is all around us, and it’s constantly evolving. Hear from employers on new ways to improve your proficiency to best showcase your digital technology skills. Watch the Digital Technology video on CareerSpots.

 Coming soon