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Transferable skills: Insights from Engineers Without Borders

When Mike Klassen graduated from engineering school, he wanted to make a difference so he volunteered with Engineers Without Borders, whose mission is to be an ‘incubator of systemic innovation.’ Mike told Career Buzz listeners (Oct. 8, 2014) how his volunteer gig led to paid jobs with EWB where he spent three years in Ghana, Uganda and the UK, as a consultant, team leader and portfolio manager.

ewbWhen I asked Mike about transferable skills he used at EWB from engineering he said, “problem solving, but more specifically, it’s how to frame and understand the problem you’re trying to solve. What is the core issue here? What are our assumptions?” Mike was able to take skills developed in solving complex calculus and physics problems and apply them to solve the “O.D.” problem (you’ll have to listen to the interview for what that means!) leading to the “community led total sanitation” solution.

What are the clues that apply to you? Being able to name a few key transferable skills, like Mike Klassen did, is invaluable to your own career management. Try this: Think of a recent time you truly enjoyed your work. What were you doing? What was the skill you were using? For example, I truly enjoyed interviewing Mike on Career Buzz. I was using my active listening and interviewing skills. Now, ask yourself, in what ways can you redeploy these skills into a new area in your work or volunteer or personal life? For example, I’d like to host a national radio show on career and workplace issues!

Mark Franklin
Practice leader and president of CareerCycles, a career management social enterprise. Our amazing team of Career Professionals have helped over 3500 clients become empowered in their career and life choices, using an evidence-based, narrative approach. We've trained Career Professionals across Canada, leading toward the Holistic Narrative Career Professional (HNCP) designation.

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