Career readiness is such an important concept in the field of career development, and by applying the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) 7 core competencies, you will grow as a future professional, and increase your career readiness levels. Last week, I illustrated the concept of Oral/Written Communication skills. At the present time, I am going to illustrate an integral competency that engineers will utilize in their academic course projects as well as in the workplace — Teamwork/Collaboration. Next, I will define, highlight and provide examples of this competency.
According to NACE (2020), Teamwork/Collaboration is the ability to “build collaborative relationships with colleagues and customers representing diverse cultures, races, ages, genders, religions, lifestyles and viewpoints. The individual is able to work within a team structure and can negotiate and manage conflict.”
An example of teamwork/collaboration is demonstrated when working on a project in which the team shares the same goal and vision. The idea of teamwork/collaboration is to acknowledge each other’s strengths to complete the project. As a former graduate student in the counseling program, I was tasked with quite a few group projects. While some teams worked better than others, what I learned from that experience was how to communicate effectively and how to diffuse conflict when it arose. I believe the teamwork skills that I acquired in my counseling program are always applied in the workplace. I have worked in teams where it was best to distribute the tasks according to everyone’s strengths while also delegating the different roles before starting the project(s). This would entail having a team leader who positively encourages the team while also being the individual that makes important decisions. The team members should also demonstrate excellent communication and active listening skills to assist with the project tasks/responsibilities.
As future engineers, my suggestion is for all of you to pay close attention to the dynamics that occurs in your own group class projects. You may find that you end up working on a project that consists of five engineering students and all of you are from different engineering majors/disciplines. While progress may be slow at first due to the different perspectives, the team will want to first select the team leader who will then allocate the roles among the team. I will now apply the analogy of a “Tug of War” to illustrate and highlight the concept of teamwork/collaboration skills. If you have ever participated in a “Tug of War” with a rope, the main goal is to maintain a state of equilibrium. However, when one individual on your team is consumed with taking most of the tasks/responsibilities, the state of equilibrium falters. In turn, this does not allow for a productive team and you may risk conflict arising among the team members. And always keep in mind that sometimes conflict is good for the group-this is referred to as “healthy conflict”. Healthy conflict then allows for the group to return back to the equilibrium state.
Additionally, we must always be respectful of each other’s viewpoints no matter what culture, race, age, gender and religious background. Having been a student myself at a large university and now working at one, I can say that the cultural and diversity awareness that one learns in this setting is invaluable. My advice to you is to embrace it and allow yourself the opportunity to learn from your team members when working on class projects.
The important questions that you are probably asking yourself now is: How do I showcase teamwork/collaboration skills on my resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn page? And wouldn’t my teamwork skills be apparent once I have landed a job? The answer to this question is no! Teamwork/collaboration takes preparation and is a skill to be learned and acquired. While teamwork is a soft skill and not a technical skill such as MATLAB and C++, it still requires some time to develop and enhance this skill. Once you develop and enhance this skill, you will want to showcase it to your future employer through your bullet points and accomplishment statements on your resume. I strongly encourage you to make an appointment with a career development professional staff member or peer career coaches to discuss how you can include teamwork/collaboration skills on your resume, cover letter and LinkedIn page. You are able to book career advising appointments via Handshake and then receive your personal link to meet via Zoom. You will receive a unique Zoom link from your career coach.
National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). (2020). Retrieved from https://www.naceweb.org/career-readiness/competencies/career-readiness-defined/
**Peer Career Coaches Edward Cheung and Siena Storino assisted with providing examples for the blog.