By Deb Schuelke, Program Director, Communication

Over the past decade or so, we’ve seen a trend in popular opinion to push students toward technical degrees, prioritizing specific skills in a particular trade. Even baccalaureate degrees are pushing for more and more content-specific courses in degree programs. This seems like it would make sense – graduates with technical, specific content knowledge should make better employees in the workforce, right? Interestingly, no.

A recent article from The Washington Post described a long-term study by Google on this very topic. In short, when Google was founded, the company emphasized only hiring the best computer scientists from top-notch computer science institutions. The goal was to hire content experts for their technical powerhouse. In 2013, 15 years of data was gathered to determine the shared qualities of their best employees, looking at hiring, firing, and promotion data. According to this research, the most successful employees at Google have the following attributes, ranked in order of importance: being a good coach; communicating and listening well; possessing insights into others (including others different values and points of view); having empathy toward and being supportive of colleagues; being a good critical thinker and problem solver; being able to make connections across complex ideas; and lastly, STEM knowledge. That’s right – soft skills outranked technical skills in employee growth and promotion.

A separate study conducted by Google was released in 2017, specifically focused on highly productive teams. These results were surprising, too, because the most successful teams at the company weren’t made up of geniuses and tech wizards. The most successful teams are those that are better at cooperating and collaborating, listening, and empathy. Soft skills created success!

Communication professionals work in every industry – even tech. What makes them so valuable is their command of soft skills. Often, the work consists of customer or community relations, creating informational materials or marketing, digital outreach, or similar tasks, but the soft skills behind those technical skills are what makes communication professionals so effective.

At PC, communication students study a wide variety of topics, including (but not limited to) advanced interpersonal communication, persuasion, communication theory, and gender communication to build a foundation of soft skills, which are then applied to skills-based courses, like advanced composition, multimedia applications, public speaking, social media, and applied communication. With our customizable degree, students can also choose to add minors or specialized coursework to develop industry-specific content knowledge and skills. We also strive to tailor internships to students’ career interests, providing an ideal stepping-stone to the workforce.

So come join our diverse community of students and explore what communication careers might be right for you!