Professor Stickney: 'Soft Skills' Must Be Taught, Not Assumed
Speaking at the U.S. News STEM Solutions National Leadership Conference in Baltimore on May 20, Lisa Stickney, associate professor in the University of Baltimore's Merrick School of Business, said it is crucial for today's college students to receive a cohesive message when it comes to developing "soft skills"—those professional attributes that reside outside of education and training, such as writing a cogent memo or following the rules of etiquette at a business gathering.
At UB, Stickney said, students receive consistent, curriculum-based communications about these skills: they are important; they are not self-evident; they can affect a student's success regardless of his or her chosen field.
"We infuse things so that students are getting the repetition: They're getting the same message, and they're getting it from the College of Arts and Sciences, they're getting it from the School of Business," Stickney said. "Even basic things, it doesn't dawn on them—you don't order spaghetti when you're at a business lunch. Make it something easy to eat and talk at the same time."
The conference, now in its fifth year, "brings together the brightest minds in business, academia and government not only to contribute key insights to the nationwide STEM debate; but also to ensure that STEM's hard-won momentum is channeled into practical, self-sustaining strategies for inspiring, educating and hiring the diverse STEM workforce of tomorrow," according to the conference's website.
Learn more about Stickney and her fellow panelists' discussion on developing and assessing soft skills at the STEM Solutions National Leadership Conference.