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01228011 - RESOURCES CAREERS Stuff You Dont Learn In...

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For starters, use clear, simple, direct language. Don’t feel that you must always use technical language, jargon, or acronyms. Highly technical language cer- tainly has its place, but it’s often the case that your audience isn’t technical—for example, a manager, a salesperson, or an elected official. A great way to improve your writing is to read more. Yes, read more! If you don’t have the time, then make the time. Almost any kind of reading is worthwhile—a good newspaper like The New York Times , a non- fiction book or a novel, The New Yorker , The Economist , whatever interests you. The more you read, the more you will notice and appreciate good writing. And over 49 IEEE SPECTRUM September 2003 R E S O U R C E S CAREERS S o you ve graduated from engi- neering school, and you ve found a good job. Congratula- tions! But are you really pre- pared for life as a working engi- neer? Do you know what steps to take to advance in your field? Do you know how to stay current and competitive? Can you deal with difficult people, like your boss, or clients, or the public? Are you comfort- able speaking in front of a crowd? If these issues concern you, rest assured: you aren t alone. Many if not most young engineers emerge from school with fabulous technical talent but little ability in the soft skills or even the realization of how important such skills are. They include making decisions, setting priorities, working in teams, running meetings, and negoti- ating. I can t blame the engineering schools for not covering this ground; after all, they have their hands full just teaching the latest technology. But when students eventually hit the workplace, they may find their soft skills woefully undeveloped. Who will teach them then? That s the goal of this series: to acquaint readers with the most impor- tant nontechnical skills that every engi- neer needs to be more effective in the workplace and happier in life. “Write that !” Let s start with effective communica- tion, by which I mean writing, speak- ing, and listening. This triumvirate can be said to be the Achilles heel of GENE GREIF BY CARL SELINGER engineers
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