How to build lifelong skills at university

Student using mobile phone and smiling at camera

Graphic Design and Web Communications student Stephanie shares what she’s learnt about important skills for uni and beyond, and how you can build them while you study.

As a student at Murdoch, I know gaining knowledge in your chosen field of study is not the only upside to attending uni. You’ll find as you progress through your studies, you’ll develop many different transferable skills learned inside and outside of the classroom.

It’s important to understand what these skills are, and how you can build on them while you’re still studying.

What are transferable skills?

Transferable skills are qualities that help you succeed in tasks across different environments, whether it be in a classroom or a workplace setting. These skills include communication, time-management, problem solving, teamwork and leadership.

So what do these skills mean exactly, and how can you use them?


To have good communication skills means you can professionally engage with others in both face-to-face and online situations. At university, this could mean delivering clear and engaging presentations to peers, working within a group, writing professional emails, or posting in forums.

In almost every unit you complete, you will be asked to participate in these ways. Not only is having good communication skills useful for university life, I personally found it has helped me feel more confident in engaging with others, whether it’s starting a conversation with someone or asking for help when I need it.

Plus, with our international student programs, studying at Murdoch gives you the chance to meet people from all around the world, exposing you to different cultures and different ways of communication/thinking.

International student Andra Julinar found her time at Murdoch essential for improving her communication skills.

“I think this is really important for all students, especially international students. By exposing ourselves to different people and cultures we can broaden our view and understanding of the world.”

Time Management

This means that you can balance a variety of tasks at once, such as working casually or part-time while studying, volunteering on the side, or simply studying multiple units at once. Time management has been a big part of my university life and sometimes it can be difficult, but learning how to master this skill has helped me to understand my priorities and become more efficient in everyday life.

Problem Solving

The best way to tackle tricky situations like a unit or assignment you’re struggling with is to explore the options available to you for assistance. Using your initiative to find a solution will help you manage the situation more easily. Remember, you’re not alone – think about what you need to do to solve the problem, or reach out to someone who can help you.


To have strong teamwork skills means you can listen to your peers, provide assistance and feedback, and voice your own ideas. To build your teamwork skills and make you feel comfortable with your classmates, there may be times were your tutor asks you to work in groups for an assignment or during your tutorial.

Outside of class, there are more opportunities to work as a team. After gaining confidence through group conversation and activities, I was able to step up and take on a committee member role in my club, where I worked with my fellow club members to organise events. Not only did this opportunity give me more experience outside of my units, it also taught me what efficient teamwork looks like in a professional setting and how important it is to learn and listen to the people around me.


Demonstrating leadership is when you can successfully guide a group of people. Leadership can be developed through group work or assignments, but is usually developed in other activities outside of your units (for example, volunteering).

The opportunity to volunteer as a Changemaker in the Changemakers program run by the Murdoch Volunteering Hub let me lead an amazing group of Murdoch volunteers for the day. This helped me to understand what it meant to be a leader and gave me an experience I wouldn’t have experienced in the classroom.

How will these skills help me with my future?

These are some fundamental skills applicable in almost any workplace, which is why developing them during your studies can give you a head-start. Having good communication, time management, problem solving, teamwork and leadership skills can also help reduce stress and increase productivity.

By strengthening these skills I found I can handle situations better than I used to and I am more efficient in with my work.

How do I build these skills?

You will build these transferable skills through your studies at university, and taking on extra roles around campus will help to strengthen them, while helping you stand out amongst the crowd. There are several things you can do to build your skills, such as:

Join a club

Here at Murdoch, there are a variety of clubs and societies that you can join to meet new people and develop your skills. Take on leadership roles, expand your communication skills, learn how to manage your time efficiently, and work with other like-minded individuals.

Do some volunteering

Volunteering is a rewarding experience for any student because not only can you help organisations in your community, you will pick up valuable skills that you can later discuss in a job interview or application.

Check out info from the Murdoch Guild

The Murdoch Guild provides a number of opportunities for Job Ready Training, and information to help you build your skills while you study.

Attend Careers and Employability Workshops/Presentations

Every semester the Careers and Employability team organise workshops and presentations for students to attend that can help them to improve their communication skills (i.e. Networking workshops, How to Write a Resume workshops, Career Boot camps).

Don’t underestimate the importance of what you can learn outside your lectures. Understanding what transferable skills are, why they’re important, and how you can build them at uni can help you expand your own skills and make the most of the opportunities provided to you.

Read more about how you can make the most of your time at uniOr learn about our study options for international students. 
Posted on:

25 Feb 2021

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