Molecular Biology and Biotechnology
My Experience of Studying Soft Skills at ITMO University
It is often said that hard skills help you get an interview but soft skills help you get and keep a job! In today’s world, having great soft skills is a must. The world is changing and so is the job sector. The highly competitive nature of the market has made it mandatory for an individual to have a good command over their soft skills, as quite often they outweigh the hard ones. As a result, it is being incorporated into the curriculum of almost every university nowadays. And ITMO University has its own unique way of doing it
ITMO offers several elective courses and one of them is Internationalization of Research Management Essentials (IRME) from the soft skills block. Little did I know back when I was choosing the course, that it was going to be the most exciting learning experience of my life! This course is unique in many ways. It has been expertly designed to promote team management, problem solving, networking, and cross-cultural competencies through a perfect blend of masterclasses and workshops. The IRME course is taught completely in English by educators from all over the world who have all experienced the true value of soft skills in every sphere of life.
The course began by dividing students into small subgroups of five with each team solving a particular real-world problem. I belonged to team Orange3 and we had to work with brain-computer interfaces (BCIs). Apart from these projects, we also had interactive sessions with international experts who gave us a thorough insight into the essential soft skills like creative thinking, business communication, and cross-cultural competencies, to name a few. The workshops were more focused on team building, networking, and problem-solving which involved many interesting tasks like preparing cover letters and CVs, performing gap analysis, SWOT analysis, and creating Gantt charts for our respective projects, and much more!
The most exciting part of this course for me was the Pitch Battle where every team had to prepare a pitch deck for the innovative solutions they came up with to their assigned problems. The Pitch Battle was a two-round event. The first round was a battle of pitch presentations within a particular category like smart materials, life sciences, IT, and social sciences. The winner from each category qualified to present their pitch at a final mega battle competing with the winners of all other categories. The jury consisted of experts from different countries with years of experience in innovation, business, and entrepreneurship. All six teams presented amazing ideas, all of which had the capability of translating into a real-world start-up.
The IRME course concluded with a Grand Finale, where every team had to defend their scientific projects in front of a panel of experts. This unique and exciting soft skill course has made me much more confident. My business communication skills have improved as I am a lot more comfortable now with writing emails, networking, and public speaking. I now know the tricks required to crack an interview or establish an amazing collaboration, all thanks to ITMO University. The best part about this course, as Dr. Kurushkin correctly pointed out that it is indeed a cross-continental effort where experts from different parts of the world collaborate to teach students the secret of such a multifold concept as soft skills. I am in touch with most of the professors who taught this course. They are all very helpful, always ready to talk to me, and offer advice. I have to admit, after taking this course I am confident in my soft skills. Thank you, ITMO!