A few weeks ago, I introduced myself to a class that I’m supporting this semester as Communication Fellow at BLSCI. I outlined the support services the Institute provides and specifically the support I will provide to students during rehearsals for their presentations. In the time I’ve worked as a fellow, I have never given an introduction and students did not have any questions. Not only did these students not have any questions, they also seemed reluctant to answer any of the questions I posed to them. I received engaged eyes, but no words to follow the expressions their eyes were emoting. I asked myself: how communication intensive is this course, if the students aren’t comfortable answering simple questions about their academic level or if they have anxiety giving oral presentations?
At BLSCI, we are in a self-reflective process right now, assessing the services we provide and what services we could potentially offer to students and faculty. With a new director at the helm, self-assessment is always key, to see which direction an organization needs to go. I wonder based on the silence I received from that one particular class of students if assessment needs to occur on deeper levels based on the curricula in each course. If most students prepare an oral presentation in courses designated as communication intensive, and they interface with BLSCI specifically for this one presentation, what other opportunities can be made available to students to cultivate communication skills inside and outside of the classroom? What spaces can be made available to students to develop their communication skills in addition to giving oral presentations?
As a doctoral candidate at the dissertation writing stage, the Career Services Center at The Graduate Center offers great workshops on professionalization skills such as developing an elevator pitch, crafting resumes for the non-academic market, and alternative career options. What if students at an undergraduate level looked at opportunities to participate in class as opportunities to cultivate their oral communication and professionalization skills? The silence I received from those students was a bit unnerving, mainly because many students think of professionalization and their academic education as two different realms that only converge during an internship and/or when they enter the labor market. Even at a business school like Baruch, students need help to recognize that these realms are not separate but actually work in tandem with each other. Even if the job they currently hold is not their intended career, cultivating good communications skills is key, and lays the foundation for grooming the elevator pitch for the career path one is truly passionate about. I guess in many ways, I do more than consult with students on oral presentations, I also provide them with tools for professionalization. In the future I will begin my introduction scripts with that.