Skills for Professional Chemists consists of 12 workshops, each is 2 – hour long where I got to learn a number of different skills and explore different aspects in reality world of professional chemists. This subject not only focus on important attributes required for working in science environment but also develop skills that can be applied in different workplace. Below is a discussion of some soft skills that were well addressed across this subject throughout different activities.
For the first time I understand that being able to reflect and learn from experience is so crucial. The concept and theory about learning have changed dramatically in modern society. We do not only learn from lectures, group works, interactive exercises but also from past experiences. By having a chance to write reflective entries every week, I was able to look back on what I have/ have not done and how can I improve in the future. Furthermore, this activity gives me an opportunity to improve my writing skill. As mentioned earlier in this subject, I was not very confident with my writing since English is my second language. However, I am surprised how I have improved throughout the subject. One tip I have been using over time for my reflective writing was to always read over and over my entries and do grammar check regularly.
Communication is such a powerful skill that can be listed in any of job’s description, criteria or number one in employer’s expectation. I had an opportunity in the past to talk with different HR people from organisations across different fields. One of the biggest issue in recruiting employees is the lack of communication in terms of either written, visual or verbal. For example, one can write a perfect report despite being so nervous and incapable of delivering a sound presentation. As a result, I really appreciate I was able to practice so many kinds of communication skills in this subject. They can be through a debate, group presentation, writing a report or giving feedback to your peers.
The difference between university and workplace is so great that I think anyone will have to be well prepared in order to adapt with any changes and conflicts. Throughout this subject, I learnt how to be a professional scientist and get ready to join the workplace. The professionalism can be shown as how to deal with debates and conflicts at work, avoid plagiarisms, understand ethics in science, respect chemical safety and hazards at work and always be prepared and get trained for emergencies. These skills together form a well-trained scientist who is ready to self-motivate and seek for information and performs great at work. For example, a person who understand plagiarisms will definitely provide a careful reference list in any of their report. Similarly, workplace incidents can be avoided if the employees have good knowledge in chemical safety and hazards.
In my opinion, soft skills are very important these days that any graduates should prepare for themselves before joining the real workplace. Sometimes soft skills need to be appreciated even more than hard skills or core knowledge. This is because soft skills are learnt in a long period of time and not anyone can absorb them effectively. One of the best experience that I have learnt from SPC was being able to learn from my peers and receive feedback from others. For example, in one activity where we had to present in front of other group and get them to film myself, give feedback, and vice versa. I think this was great because not only did I get to learn from others but also learnt from my past experiences by watching the video. Reflective thinking and learning was the most useful aspect that I really appreciate from this subject.