Most surveys conducted by various study programs at Universitas Pendidikan Indonesia show that corporations and government institutions demand that UPI alumni should possess soft skills needed to be able to best fit in with the professional environment once they enter employment, apart from the hard skills that they have studied formally on campus.
Soft skills constitute indirect abilities within individuals that relate to communication, social, and adaptation. For instance, a marketer has the responsibility to attract customer interest. Hence, Soft skills are necessary for the professional setting especially, besides intellective skills, or even they are not just necessary, but very important. Here is how soft skills work in business and academic settings.
Apart from the business environment, I also asked Dr. Ruswan Dallyono, S.Sos., M.Pd., to give his opinion about soft skills from the academic point of view. He said that soft skills are the ability to deal with other people. “When you want to have a relationship or want to collaborate with someone, soft skills are needed. It is not a visible skill, but you can feel it.” He mentioned that students are already using their soft skills unconsciously. “For example, when you are participating in ESA, you must organize an event. You have to communicate with the head of the faculty to get permission. You have to cooperate with your teammates too. That is when you use your soft skills.” He added. Dr. Ruswan also explains that someone with good soft skills has good intentions, which means they can adapt to any situation. “We can learn new things easily nowadays. That should be fine for every student. Even for someone who is introverted.”
We cannot talk about soft skills without Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats identification within ourselves. Therefore, I asked both Gugun Gunawan and Dr. Ruswan how to recognize them. Gugun told me that we must have listened and paid attention to how others think about us. What he meant is do not be mad when people give you suggestions or opinions about the project or even about your personality. Try to listen to them. Their idea may be the best solution and it may be the way to make you a better person. “It is all about balance. Be welcome with people’s suggestions but do not be too focused on your weakness. So, take the good and leave the bad. Often self-muhasabah (self-introspection) is the solution after all.”
In contrast, Dr. Ruswan said that sometimes we never really realizeour strengths. “Let’s say you are good at public speaking; you may not realize that you are good at it until someone asks you to do public speaking for them. We never realized it until we had the opportunity to show it,” told him thoughtfully. He also explains that we do not have to be afraid to ask for help because sometimes we cannot do everything alone. “I once have chosen to organize an event. I have to invite the students to come to this event. The students were very busy at that time, so there were only forty people who came. Then I ask someone who has a connection to invite more students from other universities to join the event, and alhamdulillah, the number of participants increased up to 100 people. So, it is about how you get things done. Whether it is done by yourself, or with other’s contribution.”
Both soft skills and hard skills are necessary for our upcoming career and job. Improving our soft skills is like preparing ourselves to deal with someone and something in the future. With soft skills, we can invite, persuade, and convince people to make something happen. It may not be as simple as learning hard skills, but it is not impossible. There are many sources that we can use to improve our soft skills. Being a part of a campus organization, attending positive seminars, practicing public speaking, and more. All roads lead to Rome, and we only have to choose the most comfortable road for us to go there. (Sherish N. Az Zahra, Mahasiswa Bahasa dan Sastra Inggris, FPBS UPI)