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Beyond Coding: Essential Soft Skills Every IT Student Should Cultivate

Are you an IT student at college? It’s such an exciting time, filled with learning, networking, socializing, connections and more. Sometimes, you might feel your head will burst with all the knowledge you’re cramming in. But with some hard work, dedication and commitment, you can pull it off and emerge qualified and ready for a stellar career in IT.

You’re probably learning lots of technical stuff while studying IT, such as networking, software development processes and coding. But that’s just half the equation when you’re in the workforce, even if you’ve studied an online Master’s in Cybersecurity, or similar qualification.

Soft skills are essential in the workplace, and most colleges don’t teach them. That’s why it’s important to cultivate them alongside your technical education. This article will share some essential soft skills that every IT student should work on alongside their tech prowess. Continue reading to learn more.

Team Work

Working in a team is an essential soft skill to develop while studying. Unless you work for a small business, in most cases, you’ll join established IT teams once you’re qualified and land your first entry-level role.

You’ll need to learn how to share responsibility and workloads, negotiate, cooperate, and problem-solve in a team. You may get to cultivate this soft skill while at college if you have to complete group assignments. This should allow you to learn how to navigate teamwork, share tasks effectively, and deal with team members who don’t pull their weight. 

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Communication

Another soft skill that is essential to cultivate alongside technical proficiencies is communication, both written and verbal. When working in IT, you’ll need to communicate every day. Whether it’s helping staff while working in a helpdesk role, working alongside other developers in a software development team or with other cybersecurity analysts, you’ll need to write and talk to people most days.

There’s an art to being an effective communicator and balancing courtesy with assertiveness. Too much one way and you can seem a doormat, and too much the other way, you’ll come across as bossy or demanding. Part of effective communication is compromise, negotiation and diplomacy. Cultivate this soft skill while you study, and you’ll set yourself up well for your IT career.

Time Management

Any work role requires this soft skill, not just IT roles. When in the workforce, you will likely have tighter deadlines than you’re used to from study. For instance, at college, you might have weeks to complete assignments, but when you’re working, you might have deadlines of 24-72 hours, depending on the task.

It’s essential to develop some time management skills in preparation for this. You can use a free calendar app to block out time for tasks and get used to using it for reminders and meetings. This can help you partition your time effectively, and you can practice this while the stakes are lower than when you’re working.

Creative Thinking

This one may seem strange for IT, but bear with us. IT problem-solving is not always technical or based on code or programming. Take software development, for instance, where applications must be user-friendly and perform tasks without bugs or crashes. You’ll need to develop some creative thinking skills for when those outside-the-box problems emerge. You can practice this during your lessons or even focus on upskilling this outside of your study time to prepare yourself for work.

Conflict Resolution

Conflict in the workplace is inevitable. It’s what happens when humans work closely together for long periods. It shouldn’t be aggressive, but disagreements can occur, and tensions can develop between people or teams. To effectively prepare yourself for the workplace, you should do some reading or watch some YouTube videos on practical conflict resolution skills and processes. 

Networking

In some cases, the old saying proves correct – it’s who you know, not what you know. The IT industry is no different to any other industry in that sometimes it pays to make connections.

College is the perfect place to practice networking, speaking to other students, sharing your number and GitHub work and building a professional network. You never know who will end up working after you all graduate and who might be able to get you a foot in the door at a company.

A Soft Skill Summary

This helpful article has shared what soft skills you should cultivate as an IT student to set you up for a successful and fruitful career in the industry. 

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