This is a loaded question, so I’ll start with an example. Let’s say that you volunteer at a non-profit, and you are responsible for coordinating events which involves subject planning and assigning tasks to other volunteers. In this role, you can apply your learnings to project leadership. You have an objective that needs to be met, a timeline (can translate to milestones), other volunteers (colleagues or direct reports) to inspire, gain buy-in and assign tasks, and a plan to meet/exceed expectations. You are doing something you love for the greater good that may have nothing to do with your profession, but you are gaining valuable skills that can easily be applied should the opportunity arise. Cross-functional examples include: drafting a plan and presenting business case scenarios to stakeholders, assigning tasks to employees, organizing your assigned tasks based on importance or difficulty and executing efficient, clear and concise communication to relevant parties on progress, success, and failure.
Sometimes it is hard to see how skills acquired throughout our work and life experience can have cross-functional benefit. It’s a good practice to take inventory of your skills, write down expectations of your current job, and brainstorm any relations. I’d also encourage you to seek advice from trusted colleagues and mentors. They offer a different perspective that can help you bridge any connections you may miss yourself and offer advice on how to improve. Always remember, feedback is a gift, and there’s always room to improve or refine our skills.
This article has been edited for length and clarity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of their employer or the American Chemical Society.
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