When I was in elementary school, the teacher asked everyone what they wanted to do in the future. Scientists, astronauts, and policemen were the most popular answers. As a ten-year-old kid, I had no idea at that time, so I simply said “teacher”.
More than ten years passed, I am in my final year studying Computer Science and Finance here at Waterloo. I would never imagine myself to be in this position because I was never that geeky to be in tech nor that money-driven to be in finance. However, my parents think the program is an excellent combination which will prepare me for a lucrative career. I was not particularly interested, but they have the say since they are paying the tuition. So I guess money is not a bad thing after all…
As I figure out what I want to do with my life by doing different internships in tech and finance, one thing I gradually get to realize is that communication skills are crucial in the workplace no matter what industry you are in or what position you are in. I still remember what my manager said to me at the end of my first coop term. He said, “if you want to be higher-up in an organization, you need to make sure you communicate extremely well.”
I was always under the impression that employees working in tech don’t need to communicate since they just stare at the screen and code all day. However, it turns out to be completely different in the real world. As a software developer, there are not only plenty of discussions to have with various technical and non-technical colleagues, but also lots of comments to be made in the code so that whoever reads your code in the future is able to understand it.
For people working at a tech start-up, the requirements are even higher. Imagine yourself working at a start-up with fewer than ten people, you might spend only half of the day doing some hard-core coding. The rest of the day will be spent on pitching your company to a potential investor or recruiting more people. How would you persuade the investors to invest in you? How do you convince talents to join your company when you don’t have a lot of cash to offer? This is where the communication skills kick in.
The other thing I observed and experienced is that the way we communicate really depends on the work environment. When I was doing my coop term on the trading floor, I need to communicate in an extremely clear and concise fashion. If I fail to do that, traders will mostly likely become impatient or mad.
These are some thoughts on communication while I am figuring out life. I used to be a very shy and introverted person and I am grateful for how the coop experience has taught me the importance of communication. Let me know how you think and don’t hesitate to leave your comments below 🙂