This post is the second in a series on critical thinking and analysis, one of the top skills employers want you to have.   Here, SIS alum Robert Mack tells  how the critical thinking skills he learned here at AU  have been important to his career at PublicRelay.  Robert is currently a Media Analyst and Recruitment Specialist. 
Think Critically, by Robert Mack
Analyze; problem solve; synthesize; think critically. To anyone perusing CareerWeb’s listings, these terms quickly become a dime a dozen. Yet these words appear often for good reason – employers need individuals who can come up with simple solutions to massively complicated problems. As evidenced by a recent survey, 93% of employers highly value critical thinking skills – so highly, in fact, that they value critical thinking skills more than an applicant’s undergraduate major.[i] Writing as an AU alum who now works in a recruiting role, I can attest to the fact that critical thinking and analytical reasoning skills are in demand more than ever and that AU is a great place to perfect them.      
Dan Black, Director of Recruiting at EY, defines critical thinking as “the ability to work with data, to accumulate it, analyze it and synthesize it, in order to make balanced assessments and smart decisions.”[ii] His definition may sound intimidating, but these skills are 100% learnable. Mastering the art of critical thinking just takes time, work, and patience.
For the students reading this, you can find opportunities to improve your critical thinking skills right in front of you. Many class assignments, especially research papers, require the collection, analysis, and synthesis of data in a way that parallels the critical thinking definition found above. Writing research papers, more than anything, teaches you how to think. In 10 years, most of you will probably not remember the specific topics that you covered in your research assignments. What you will remember is the critical thinking approach that you employed when building your arguments and conclusions, an approach that will stay with you for years to come.
At PublicRelay, we tackle the communications challenges facing our clients with our analytical reasoning and critical thinking skills. During the hiring process, we look closely at our candidates’ analytical and reasoning abilities to gauge how they would approach the challenges our clients encounter. We hire individuals who are sharp and want to think big – so much so that there is no one degree that we look for. Our Media Analysts have backgrounds in history, international relations, anthropology, and sociology, among many others. At the end of the day, we need people who can solve problems and think critically.
Since graduating 4 years ago, I’ve taken the critical thinking skills that I learned at AU and applied them to solving a number of complicated problems. Business theories change, Presidents will enter and exit office, but thinking critically will never go out of style.