The “7 Survival Skills” – Initiative & Entrepreneurship

The “7 Survival Skills[1],” established by Tony Wagner, contribute to your success at Sheridan College, in your career. These blogs posts are dedicated to explaining how you can gain these skills in and outside the classroom, how they may be positioned as interview questions, and tips on how to effectively respond. Click here to start at the beginning.

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What is it?

Initiative is the power or opportunity to assess, act or take charge before others do.

Entrepreneurship is the willingness to take risks, be innovative, lead, develop, organize and manage a business venture.

In the Classroom

During class discussions, initiative can be taken by offering to assist the professor in setting up a presentation, writing comments on the board, presenting a new perspective to a class discussion, etc.

In group projects, you can demonstrate initiative by taking on the less exciting portion of the assignment, or offering to take the lead on the project and delegate tasks to others; this also demonstrates leadership. Initiative can also include noticing emerging issues, either in the organizing of the project, or in the team itself and attempting to remedy the situation; this also demonstrates problem solving and adaptability.

Outside the Classroom

Take initiative by getting involved on campus and offering to take on a project yourself. If you join a club and have an idea for an event or campaign, start it. If you have a new way of presenting information to campus partners that will enhance the relationship, go for it. Using the guidance and support from fellow team-members, you can initiate change.

Entrepreneurship occurs when the initiative to take on a project becomes a business venture. Last year Sheridan Enactus was awarded 2nd place in the Capital One Financial Education Challenge for their outstanding work with Project LIFE (Literacy in Financial Education) revolving around community outreach. Their project was called HEGON: Helping Entrepreneurs Generate Opportunities Now.  Click here to learn more.

Club opportunity: Enactus Sheridan 

Other club opportunities: PSB Clubs  

Possible Interview Questions

    • Tell me about a time that you identified a need and went above and beyond what was expected of you.
    • Tell me about a time when you have been creative in your work.  What was the situation and what did you do?
    • Tell us about an idea you started that involved collaboration with your colleagues that improved the delivery of a project.
    • Tell me about a time when you took the responsibility for a situation that had negative consequences.  What did you learn from the situation?
    • Tell me about a time when you noticed an emerging issue on a project. What did you do?
  • Tell me about a time when you took a risk. What did you learn from it?

How to Answer

  1. Follow the usual “story telling” steps to answering interview questions. See Critical Thinking & Problem Solving
  2. Understand the difference between taking initiative (going above and beyond) and completing expected duties.
    • Bad example: “I was asked to come up with ideas to get more students to attend the event our club was organizing.”
      1. This is a job duty, and may exemplify the ability to take direction well; it is not initiative.
    • Good example: “I am a general volunteer at ABC club. I noticed that very few people were attending the events our club was organizing. I brought up this up with the club Coordinators and initiated activities to increase participation in our event. I created a Facebook Page, created posters, talked to students about the event, and generated prizes for attendees.”
      1. This exemplifies initiative. Deficiencies were noticed and activities were initiated without initial direction.
  3. Having examples prepared is important to ensure you make the most of an interview.

Stay Tuned! Next Post: Effective Oral & Written Communication

Previous Post: Agility & Adaptability

Click here to start from the beginning.

[1] Wagner, T. (2014). Tony Wagner’s Seven Survival Skills. Retrieved from

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