Skills (Otherwise Known as How to Save the World)

Guest Blogger Rachel Lewis ’15

In any given week, I am stricken multiple times by the desire to save the world.

For a moment I let this inspiration take over and consider dropping out of school and running off to a foreign country… and that is where the plan ends. Not only is the idea of saving the world arrogant and unfocused, but how could I ever expect to save the world without the skills to research, implement, and keep up with a plan?

I start with this strange anecdotal glance into my thoughts to talk about one thing – skills, or rather hard versus soft skills. Typically when we think about our skill sets, we say things like hard worker, determined, good communication skills, and positive attitude. As we discussed in CUPID Studio recently, there are two problems with this; one, we all say it, and two, it does not really say much about what we are capable of. What does it mean to be a hard worker? Hard work for one person is not hard for another. How does one quantify good communication skills? How do you prove it? When we list our skills, we typically do so in a resume. In order to have a successful resume, we have to remember the purpose and the audience. Usually the purpose is to illustrate a skill set and gain a job, and the audience is someone who does not know you. The resume (and sometimes a writing sample) is all they have to go by. Keeping audience and purpose in mind are two rhetorical strategies that should always be kept in mind.

This is where hard skills come in. Instead of listing a bunch of difficult to prove characteristics, we must learn to instead talk about what we have already done. For example, why say you are determined when you can say you worked fifteen hours a week collaborating with various organizations in order to produce an advertisement that would become a part of a larger campaign? Personally, when I look at my resume the first thing I want to do is push my passion onto the page. Realistically, though, I can say I am passionate as many times as I want, but it means nothing without the proof to back it up. Explaining the positions I have held within organizations that are relevant to my passions is the way to do this.

This semester in CUPID Studio I will be working with a team to provide a sociology professor with a hard copy of an online handbook. We have designed a timeline and a work schedule, and we will be using software to reformat the current text into something that will hopefully be distributed to Elon’s Periclean Scholars. With this and later projects I will continue building on my skill set in order understand my abilities, find a focus, and prove myself as a professional writer.

With some practice, time, and a little bit of luck, one day I may be able to articulate the hard skills I will need to don a cape and benefit some small portion of the world.

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