Important Professional Tools – More than Knowing How to use SPSS or SAS (see www.SueMentors.blogspot.com)
A young professional just starting out after finishing her MPH asked me a very interesting question. She said she took a lot of research courses during her MPH program. But she felt pretty unprepared in school for the key tools that are needed in the workplace. She was now interning and was applying her research skills in an interesting intern position. But she also realized that the work involved much more than just applying research skills.
She asked, “What kinds of tools are important to have?”
Here are the things I expect and hope your professionals to have these days – or to be ready to learn as soon as they come to work:
- Budgeting: you should be able to construct a basic budget in Excel, using straightforward formulas (add, subtract, multiply, divide a column of numbers). This will help you get more facile with a key aspect of project planning and implementation – matching resources to activities.
- Charting and Figures: you should be able to use Excel to create graphs so that you can present visual displays of data in reports and presentations.
- PowerPoint: Learn to use this to make an effective presentation. Think of it as an outlining tool where you use each page for a specific thought or idea. Key skills in PowerPoint include knowing how to format text, how to insert figures and objects, how to realign bullets, and how to move slides around. And educate yourself with one of the multitude of resources on the web about how to effectively display text on a PowerPoint slide.
- Presentations: Take any opportunity you can to speak in front of a group – informally or formally. The more you do it, the better you become and the easier it becomes. (Okay, not always – I still get nerves.) Being prepared helps you feel more confident so if you do better by writing the text down, then do that. If you work better from notes, then that’s what works for you. Use what works for you but don’t read anything word for word. That will sound forced and will sound like you’re droning. Think of this as a conversation.
- Outlining in Word: I’m sure you are facile with Word. It is extremely important for you to be able to set up and use automatic outlining in Word. And if you can use that and set up headers so you can make a table of contents – that’s even better!
Do you have some favorites that I haven’t mentioned here?