Master the competencies that propel career success

The Liberal Arts Advantage

Your liberal arts education at CLA will help you develop the ten Core Career Competencies employers and alumni tell us matter most.

So, dig in. Explore the competency videos and definitions to expand your own understanding and connect their value to others. Then, watch the alumni videos for real-world insights you can use.

Dig into the 10 Core Career Competencies

Analytical & Critical Thinking
Applied Problem Solving
Ethical Reasoning & Decision Making
Innovation & Creativity
Digital Literacy
Career Management
Engaging Diversity
Active Citizenship & Community Engagement
Teamwork & Leadership
Oral & Written Communication

Analytical & Critical Thinking

In a world that springs new challenges at you faster than ever before, you’ll be able to quickly parse the facts from the noise—and plot a course for success.

Analytical & Critical Thinking comprehensively explores issues, ideas, knowledge, evidence and values before accepting or formulating an opinion or conclusion. Those competent in Analytical & Critical Thinking:

  • Recognize there may be more than one valid point of view.
  • Evaluate an issue or problem based on multiple perspectives, while accounting for personal biases.
  • Identify when information is missing or if there is a problem, prior to coming to conclusions and making decisions.
See the definition

Video runtime: 2:04

Alumni weigh in

Lara | Lambers | Carlos | Catherine | Brittany | Robert

"Analytical and critical thinking is a cornerstone of being successful. There are several ways that you can solve any single problem but you want to find the right direction for that customer based on all the different priorities that they bring to the table."


Applied Problem Solving

Develop the ability to assess problem situations with all their complexities—and you'll be equipped to unlock the problems of tomorrow.

Applied Problem Solving is the process of designing, evaluating and implementing a workable strategy to achieve a goal. Those competent in Applied Problem Solving:

  • Recognize constraints.
  • Generate a set of alternative courses of action.
  • Evaluate alternatives using a set of criteria.
  • Select and implement the most effective solution.
  • Monitor the actual outcomes of that solution.
  • Recognize there may be more than one valid point of view.
See the definition

Video runtime: 1:53

Alumni weigh in

Mathew | Jeremy | Karla | Lambers | Robert | Mychael

"Sometimes you've got to take all the component parts. Put them all in a box. And like that Apollo 13 moment of we have a square peg and a round hole, these are the parts available to us, close the door and let's solve this problem."


Ethical Reasoning & Decision Making

Armed with a map to negotiate everyday conundrums and difficult moments, you’ll enable people and organizations to act ethically—and encourage new growth.

Ethical Reasoning & Decision Making recognizes ethical issues arising in a variety of settings or social contexts, reflects on the ethical concerns that pertain to the issue, and chooses a course of action based on these reflections. Those competent in Ethical Reasoning & Decision Making:

  • Assess one's own personal and moral values and perspectives as well as those of other stakeholders.
  • Integrate these values and perspectives into an ethical framework for decision making.
  • Consider intentions and the short-and long-term consequences of actions and the ethical principles that apply in the situation before making decisions.
See the definition

Video runtime: 2:40

Alumni weigh in

Catherine | Naveen | Lambers | Robert | Carlos

"If I'm not adhering to a code of ethics and I just fly off the cuff all of the time, my professionalism is in question. My competency is in question."


Innovation & Creativity

When you harness the very engines upon which the world turns, you’ll be empowered to embrace alternative solutions, and create new from old.

Innovation & Creativity generates new, varied and unique ideas, and making connections between previously unrelated ideas. Those competent in Innovation & Creativity:

  • Challenge existing paradigms and propose alternatives without being constrained by established approaches or anticipated responses of others.
  • Employ their knowledge, skills, abilities, and sense of originality.
  • Have a willingness to take risks and overcome internal struggle to expose one's creative self in order to bring forward new work or ideas.
See the definition

Video runtime: 1:31

Alumni weigh in

Jeremy | Alexis | Brette | Ingrid | Megan | Ian | Ahmed | Ashley | Mathew

"Innovation and creativity is something that I strive hard to achieve in my work and in my life. Just thinking as far as I can and trying to not limit myself by what's already been done but thinking farther than that."


Oral & Written Communication

Unlock your story and fully express your goals and visions. When you do, you’ll gain the support you need to get new ideas off the ground.

Oral & Written Communication intentionally engages with an audience to inform, persuade, or entertain.

Those competent in Oral & Written Communication:

  • Consider relationships with the audience and the social and political context in which one communicates, as well as the needs, goals, and motivations of all involved.
  • Have proficiency in, knowledge of, and competence with the means of communication (including relevant language and technical skills).
  • Ensure that communication is functional and clear.
See the definition

Video runtime: 2:08

Alumni weigh in

Ingrid | Nate | Robert | Allison | Ashley | Karla | Ahmed | Megan | Brittany | Lara

"I am very much a believer that how you present yourself both orally and written is a reflection of your thoughtfulness, your education, your knowledge and your willingness to meet people halfway."


Teamwork & Leadership

The world needs people with both the ability to lead and be part of a cohesive group. It’s how you’ll help drive change through a sense of community and purpose.

Teamwork & Leadership builds and maintains collaborative relationships based on the needs, abilities, and goals of each member of a group. Those competent in Teamwork & Leadership:

  • Understand their own roles and responsibilities within a group, and how they may change in differing situations.
  • Are able to influence others without necessarily holding a formal position of authority, and have the willingness to take action.
  • Leverage the strengths of the group to achieve a shared vision or objective.
  • Effectively acknowledge and manage conflict toward solutions.
See the definition

Video runtime: 2:51

Alumni weigh in

Brittany | Marvin | Ian | Mychael | Lara | Allison

"I compare it to rolling a boulder uphill. You're pushing and pushing and pushing. The hardest step is to get that boulder moving. And then, one other person joins you because they share your vision. Then you get two people, and three people, and finally the boulder is moving. It's still really hard. And then eventually it gets to the top of the hill and starts moving on its own."


Engaging Diversity

Now more than ever, we need a world that celebrates differences and collaboratively shares ideas. Embrace different viewpoints, and you’ll not only create a stronger social fabric—you’ll help build companies that succeed.

Engaging Diversity cultivates awareness of one’s own identity and cultural background and that of others through an exploration of domains of diversity, which may include: race, ethnicity, country of origin, sexual orientation, ability, class, gender, age, spirituality, etc. This requires an understanding of historical and social contexts and a willingness to confront perspectives of dominant cultural narratives and ideologies, locally, nationally, or globally.

Those competent in Engaging Diversity:

  • Understand how culture affects perceptions, attitudes, values, and behaviors.
  • Recognize how social structures and systems create and perpetuate inequities, resulting in social and economic marginalization and limited opportunities.
  • Commit to the fundamental principles of freedom of thought and expression, equality, respect for others, diversity, and social justice; and to participate in society as conscious global citizens.
  • Are able to navigate an increasingly complex and diverse world by appreciating and adopting multiple cultural perspectives or worldviews.
See the definition

Video runtime: 2:02

Alumni weigh in

Catherine | Naveen | Xiaolu | Lara | Alexis | Mychael | Megan | Muneer

"Being privileged enough to have a liberal arts education really makes me understand we don't live in the bubble. We're all connected in the world in different ways. The different systems and isms have done a really successful job in separating people and separating humanity so for me what's really important in the liberal arts education is holding that thread of humanity."


Active Citizenship & Community Engagement

Creating change and opening up paths to newer, brighter futures takes a rainbow of colors. You’ll ensure we move forward together, while embracing differences and sharing common goals.

Active Citizenship & Community Engagement develops a consciousness about one's potential contributions and roles in the many communities one inhabits, in person and online, and takes action accordingly. Those competent in Active Citizenship & Community Engagement:

  • Actively engage with the communities in which they are involved.
  • Build awareness of how communities impact individuals, and how, in turn, an individual impacts, serves, and shapes communities.
  • Evolve their awareness of culture and power in community dynamics.
See the definition

Video runtime: 1:42

Alumni weigh in

Alexis | Ingrid | Nate | Muneer | Brette | Catherine | Mathew | Megan | Xiaolu

"How do we reimagine what processes and community engagement looks like for those who have often been left out of the conversation? My liberal arts degree helped shape up what are those processes and what does those things look like."


Digital Literacy

Digital technologies have the power to connect people and information—or create barriers. Understand the digital world’s underpinnings and evolution, and you’ll be empowered to harness your message and bring forth the next big thing.

Digital Literacy leverages knowledge of information and communications technology and media literacies, and utilizes the interpersonal skills necessary to succeed in a digital space. Those competent in Digital Literacy:

  • Assess sources of information.
  • Use technologies responsibly.
  • Adapt tools to new purposes.
  • Keep up with the evolving technology landscape.
See the definition

Video runtime: 2:05

Alumni weigh in

Robert | Carlos | Xiaolu | Karla | Ian | Ashley | Ahmed

"Digital literacy is very important. It has helped me evolve throughout my career. The speed of change is increasing and it is very important to welcome the change and to stay abreast of the changes to stay relevant."


Career Management

Cultivate your ability to translate each of the other nine competencies to real-world applications—and plot a course that enables you to grow with every opportunity and experience.

Career Management is the active engagement in the process of exploring possible careers, gaining meaningful experience, and building skills that help one excel after college and lead to employment or other successful post-graduation outcomes. Those competent in Career Management:

  • Understand their values, interests, identity, personality, skills, strengths, and Core Career Competencies.
  • Are able to articulate how those characteristics, combined with and shaped by a liberal arts education, lead to career success.
See the definition

Video runtime: 2:41

Alumni weigh in

Ahmed | Marvin | Robert | Brittany | Catherine | Allison | Ashley | Brette

"What skills and experiences am I building and honing along the way and how would I articulate that to a potential employer or business partner down the road. What am I going to say that I'm really good at. What will I say that I can bring to the table."


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CLA is here to help

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