In a survey reported by the Campus Recruitment & Benchmark Report (2013)*, Canadian employers report that among the top skills they value in new hires are communication, teamwork, problem solving, and critical thinking skills. As you’ll find out in the student interviews under each competency, EE is a great conduit to develop and refine these skills.
EE also provides an opportunity to increase your engagement with the community, which is also core to a university education. As a student and citizen, you have a lot to contribute and can make a difference in the life of your communities.
These skills relate to the ability to share information effectively, using a range of technology such as emails and social media. It includes communicating in writing and verbally, listening and asking questions to understand and appreciate other points of view. It also includes the ability to locate, gather and organize information and present it in a way that takes your audience into account. For example, presenting an idea to the CEO of a company will look very different from explaining the same idea to a team member.
Being a good team player is about contributing to the team by sharing information and expertise. An effective teammate will accept and provide feedback in a constructive manner as well as respect diversity in people and perspectives.
Solving problems in a professional environment may be particularly challenging because you can be faced with complex problems. One thing for sure, you’ll need to use many of your soft skills together. When you assess a new situation and identify problems, you will need to communicate clearly, engage others in the decision-making process and often have to critically evaluate a solution to make appropriate recommendations. You may also have to implement the solution yourself!
Civic engagement is about working to make a difference in the life of our communities and developing the knowledge, skills, values, and motivation to contribute positively to quality of life in a community.
Working with the community: When you join an organization for Community-Focused EE, it is important that you understand your own social privilege. In some of the communities you may be working in, there are systemic barriers that lead to marginalization of certain groups and individuals. To help build rapport and mutual respect with local community members, be mindful of the following:
- You will bring your own background and skillset that can be a resource to the project. That’s great!
- The differences in their life experience and yours must be seen as assets, not deficits.
- Remember that an EE course is a two-way learning opportunity. You gain something from it, but the community partner must also profit from the experience.
- Create sustainable projects whenever possible and think about the possible long-term impacts of the project. The work you do can leave a lasting impact, for better or for worse.
- Be proactive. The community partner is likely engaged in many projects at once. Your project may not be the most urgent one, so find out how you can be most helpful.
Thinking critically means that you are able to explore an issue, problem, event or idea in some depth before accepting or formulating an opinion. Your perspective is based on information that is credible and relevant in context. It also means that you are able to examine your own and others' assumptions, formulate other possible points of view, and formulate a conclusion that is thoughtful. Structured reflection is one concrete way of developing your critical thinking skills.
When you work through the readiness check questions, think of recent situations where you had to apply these skills. Make sure you have specific examples in mind that can illustrate your performance.
You may use the EE Readiness Checks Tool to assess your current level of readiness. The readiness checks will help you assess your current skill level for communication, teamwork, problem solving and civic engagement. Note that you will need to complete the four readiness checks before you can view your results.
Tip: Complete the readiness checks before and after your EE course to measure your progress over time.
Readiness Checks - PDF download
*Smith, P., and Lam, M. (2013). Campus Recruitment & Benchmark Report: Educator Summary. Canadian Association of Career Educators and Employers.