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Teaching Soft Skills Doesn’t Have to Be Hard


It’s no surprise that a popular topic at any Convergence College Network (CCN) discussion – especially those involving our Business and Industry Leadership Team (BILT) – is the value of “soft skills.” It’s one thing for students to get the IT training, but employers are looking for more than technical know-how. As one faculty member put it during a recent CCN Administrator meeting, too often students “learn enough to get the job, but not enough to keep the job.”

So how do schools address this need to teach soft skills? How do IT students learn the essentials of group work, business etiquette, dependability, written and verbal communications, or job interviews?

We posed these questions question at that same CCN Administrator meeting and got a number of answers from instructors and administrators across the country. Below is a sample:

  • Adding a presentation component (both a written Word document “write up” and a PowerPoint verbal presentation) to as many courses as is possible
  • Allowing for peer review of group work (i.e. in addition to an instructor’s grade, members of each group also grade one another on performance and professionalism)
  • Assigning students “career research papers” to learn specifics about the IT jobs they hope to get (and the skills they’ll need to get them)
  • Developing a class devoted to customer service or help desk communication
  • Encouraging participation in Toastmasters to boost speaking skills and confidence
  • Giving students self-assessment assignments (i.e. identifying their skills and framing them to the IT industry)
  • Hosting LinkedIn workshops to teach students how to network online (one school requires students created LinkedIn accounts)
  • Making internships a program/course requirement
  • Organizing mock interviews in the classroom with IT recruiters
  • Teaching a workshop on “dressing for success”
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