Saturday, November 10, 2007

work on your soft skills

in the last couple of weeks, i was hacking like a mad man for a little while and then dropped down to doing higher level and management stuff. what i'm constantly seeing is that hacking and the other stuff is equally important. in fact, doing the other stuff is what i think separates myself from the others.

so, all you students out there. (and i've said this over and over and over and over). hacking is part of it. yes, you have need to have the hacking skills. you need to have good software development processes, you need to use the right tools, you need to learn things like Programming Pearls and Effective Java, bottom line you need to be able to hack with the best of them. BUT, you also need the "soft skills". Skills like communication, writing, team work, critical thinking, speaking skills, management skills, following skills, even stuff like understanding the market, etc. that other stuff is very important. and i would claim it is much harder to practice the soft skills. you can't exactly read a book about how to make a presentation and think you are guy kawasaki. soft skills need practice. you need to start practicing them now.

here is what you do:
  • write research papers, the best way is an undergraduate or graduate thesis.
  • give as many presentations as you can.
  • work in as many project teams as you can, hopefully, you are in projects that you can lead. but, also be in projects that you are the follower - hackystat is a good project to be a follower and leader.

    i've heard other people say you can't learn the soft skills. i think that is bunch of baloney. it just takes longer and is harder to do.

    start doing it now. soft skills are extremely valuable in industry.
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