Recently, at 3 Summer Opportunity Fairs for Teens, we were swamped by students and parents inquiring about STEM –science, technology, engineering and math internships. Yes, in our school-to-career program we do connect students to exciting STEM internships, but what happened to students interested in government, journalism, and arts? Just as it always does, it seems like the pendulum has swung, this time away from liberal arts to STEM.
Of course technical skills will be more and more sought after in the workplace but studies by Google and LinkedIn relating to both labor market skills and gaps had surprising results. Parents and Students …Take note!
Soft Skills prized by Google and other Corporations
Google’s Project Oxygen shocked everyone by concluding that, among the eight most important qualities of Google’s top employees, STEM expertise comes in dead last!
Valerie Strauss in The Washington Post detailed Google’s research.
She writes that the seven top characteristics of success at Google are all soft skills: being a good coach; communicating and listening well; possessing insights into others (including others different values and points of view); having empathy toward and being supportive of one’s colleagues; being a good critical thinker and problem solver; and being able to make connections across complex ideas.
This spring, Google’s study named, Project Aristotle, further supports the importance of soft skills even in high-tech environments. They analyzed data on their high level technical teams of scientists and specialists, and actually discovered that the company’s most important new ideas come from non-technical employees who possessed a range of soft skills: equality, generosity, curiosity toward the ideas of your teammates, empathy, and emotional intelligence.
Chevron and IBM, also rank communication skills in the top three most sought after qualities by job recruiters. They prize both an ability to communicate with one’s workers and an aptitude for conveying the company’s product and mission outside the organization.
Workforce Report: Boston Among Top Cities with Largest Skills Gap
Srividya Kalyanaraman in Boston Inno, referred to LinkedIn’s Workforce Report that identified the top four Largest Skills Gap in major US cities. https://www.americaninno.com/boston/inno-news-boston/workforce-report-boston-among-top-cities-with-largest-skills-gap/
In Boston, NYC and all major cities, Soft Skills are highly in demand. The number one skills gap is oral communication, followed by business management, leadership and digital literacy. Also: people management, development tools, social media, time management and data research.
The Case for Internships Relating to Soft Skills
Soft skills are observed and learned on all types of internships:
- Communication – verbal, written, active listening, netiquettes, body language
- Strategy – decision making, problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, ability to locate and use information
- Self-management – professionalism, emotional intelligence, work ethic, time-management, attitude, integrity, resilience, predictability
- Team work – collaboration, ability to operate effectively in a team environment
- Leadership – negotiation, compromise, conflict management, managing diversity and inclusion, cultural awareness, negotiation, delegation
The best advice I always give to parents is, “Take your child’s interest and run with it.”
If they enjoy writing, we can connect them to a journalism or tech internship where they can write for the company blog.
If they are interested in education, we’ll connect them to a teaching internship where they will learn how to communicate and present ideas.
If they are interested in art, they can learn how art relates to technology in game design or how graphic design is used in every business.
If their interest is law, they can experience an internship in government where they will see how laws are passed or how tech attorneys help startups.
Parents- Don’t discourage your child from a career they may love. All career interests are valid and their value stands alone. Surprisingly enough, that career interest could help them develop the soft skills that are highly desired in STEM related fields.