Most students have heard of hard skills: measurable skills that you develop through extensive training and in your schoolwork to tailor to your career field. But developing soft skills are extremely valuable, especially for those who identify in the Asian/Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, to be successful in the workplace. Asian Americans have always been considered the “model minority,” excelling in school and having higher success rates in landing jobs, with 67% of Asians in the U.S. labor force having a bachelor’s degree or higher (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Report 2021). Even though individuals identifying as a part of the AAPI community enter the workforce and get impressive entry-level jobs, they are not being promoted or gaining managerial roles, which is known as the “bamboo ceiling.” Asian Americans are extremely underrepresented in leadership positions, as only 2% of CEOs in the professional workforce in the US identifies as Asian. (Learn more about the “bamboo ceiling” and Asian Americans in the workforce here: Greater Inclusion can Help Asian Americans Crack the Bamboo Ceiling).
Understanding how to use soft skills in the workplace can help you navigate a successful work environment and allow you to employ those skills in receiving the roles you deserve! According to a survey done by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), problem-solving (61.4%) and teamwork skills (61.0%) were ranked higher than the analytical (50.4%) and technical (50.0%) skills that employers seek on a candidate’s résumé. (2023 NACE Job Outlook Survey).
Here are a few soft skills that can help you get promoted in your profession, and you can start developing them now!
Everyone has heard of the importance of communication, but how can we develop these skills? There are many opportunities to work on your communication skills, whether written communication, through emails to your professors, or oral communication like speaking in class presentations. Here at UConn, Principles of Public Speaking (COMM 1100) is a terrific introductory course that can help develop your public speaking skills. You can also utilize the Writing Center to enhance your written communication, as it will be beneficial in your career to draft emails, create memos, and promote your brand. Establishing these skills now will make you more comfortable to effectively communicate and advocate for yourself for promotions and the positions you deserve to your managers.
Problem-Solving and Critical Thinking
Problem-solving and critical thinking are the top attributes that employers look for on résumés, so how can we establish them? It is not only essential to complete the technical aspects of your jobs, but you should be prepared for any situations or issues that might arise. While at UConn, challenge yourself and take classes that are not aligned with your major, you might find something you are interested in! The Q Center can provide additional support in your quantitative courses, allowing you to further establish problem solving and critical thinking skills. Learning about unfamiliar topics will allow you to gain a unique perspective and think outside the box. UConn has hundreds of courses and departments available for you to explore, so take advantage of being able to learn something new!
Group projects could be something that is dreaded, but it is also an opportunity to engage with different people. You can prove to managers that you are an integral part of the team and can work well with others. In your classes, tackle group projects to provide everyone an opportunity to express their ideas and opinions. Try to get to know everyone individually as well, so you can be exposed to all diverse backgrounds and personalities. Another great way to develop teamwork skills is to get involved with the many clubs and organizations available! There are many cultural organizations here on campus for students affiliated with the AAPI community that you can join and get involved in, and hundreds of other organizations as well. Joining clubs is a wonderful opportunity to connect with other students and to interact with different teams!
To grow throughout your career further into managerial positions, leadership skills are essential in showing that you deserve that promotion. Take your communication, problem-solving, and teamwork skills to another level and highlight them in your leadership. On campus, step up and develop your skills by taking on a greater role or responsibility in clubs and organizations! There are over 40 organizations affiliated with the Asian American Cultural Center’s Pan Asian Council (PAC) and all these clubs require a PAC representative. This is a perfect opportunity for even first-year students to get involved and obtain an executive board position. Other clubs and organizations have many positions available as well, take the chance to learn what you would be most interested in to develop your leadership skills!
Having time management skills will not only allow you to succeed in your career but will also provide personal benefits. You can maximize your time and efficiency in your job to stand out on your team. Time management can help you set your goals correctly and prioritize the importance of your tasks. Creating schedules for your courses and assignments is an amazing way to get started in building your time management skills and prepare you for after graduation. Microsoft has numerous organizational tools, such as the Outlook calendar, To-Do lists, etc. that you have access to for free as a UConn student. The Academic Achievement Center is another great resource available to UConn students across all campuses to develop time management skills as well as providing support to achieve academic and personal success. Learning how to use these resources during your academic journey will allow you to enhance your organizational and management skills for all your future positions.
It is important to begin developing your soft skills while you are still a student here at UConn and there are plenty of resources available for you. Having these skills will elevate your chances of moving further in your career and preparing you for the promotion that you deserve!
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