By Nick Ferraro, M.Ed. - Assistant Director, ASU's Career and Professional Development Services
In September 2019, I had the opportunity to attend the SciTech: STEM and Innovation Summit where I heard from industry leaders in STEM. During the summit, leaders mentioned qualifications that they look for in candidates for their organization. Technical skills were mentioned as integral to success as they are indicators that you can complete the duties of the role such as writing code, knowing how to operate machinery, etc.
Other professionals highlighted the importance of soft skills. These skills are harder to teach employees but were found very valuable to professional growth and getting the job done effectively. Here are four soft skills, also known as transferable skills, that industry leaders highlighted.
Communication includes your verbal, written, and non-verbal cues when interacting with others. This was an important one that multiple industry leaders mentioned because of the high impact of effective communication that takes place in your position. You need to be able to effectively communicate your ideas, projects, and needs to both partners as well as those who may not have similar knowledge as you.
Practice this skill by proofreading your written material, and intentionally interacting with others in classes, around campus, and at events.
Every position you will encounter in the STEM industry will have a component of teamwork. Michael Jordan once said, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships." Highlight and give examples of how you leverage the different roles you faced. Roles could range from being a project lead or being active in a support role.
Be sure to highlight this skill to an employer by sharing examples of your previous experience working effectively with others, such as successful class projects.
You don’t need to hold a leadership role in order to show that you have leadership qualities. Industry leaders at the SciTech: STEM and Innovation Summit reiterated that they look for things such as active club involvement, roles within group assignments, and volunteering experience.
If you haven’t joined a student organization or volunteered, I highly recommend doing so. Not only will you obtain leadership experience, these opportunities can bolster your skills in networking, learning, and teamwork.
Willingness to Learn
Industry leaders and summit attendees also mentioned that they seek out applicants who have some proven experience in independent learning. This included learning outside of the classroom to engage in personal projects or through online courses, and highlighting their work completed through a website or e-portfolio.
A variety of experiences such as volunteering, projects, jobs, or internships will allow you to obtain a diverse set of skills. If you are debating what experience to highlight to an employer, consider these transferable skills and how they can be leveraged to land your dream career.