Those are the best words to hear as a professor. We hear them quite a bit from CICS students via class discussions, reflective writings, and even posts like this on our Slack channel from CICS student Nick Clark:
As I was walking around the house today, cleaning, organizing, etc., I was listening to a podcast about Digital Forensics (linked below). This is a podcast I have listed to before, but not one I follow regularly. Nonetheless, it’s a decent one. The guest speaker today was a former FBI agent who has spent the last couple decades working in Digital Forensics. He discussed several different topics, but one, in particular, caught my attention. (The host also leads a private sector digital forensics firm.)
He said that there are a lot of university programs available today that teach you “how to do forensics,” but that very few of them focus anywhere near enough on soft/essential skills, to include “how to communicate effectively.” He said a lot of programs might include one course in communication, but not much more. He went on to say that the technical skills can be taught, but having effective communication skills, the ability to translate technical information and explanations into plain, understandable English, is of paramount importance.
He gave the example of seeing agents, while sitting on the stand in court, be asked to explain how a computer works, and how a computer moves data. He also said he’s seen some very smart people struggle to answer that question when put on the spot (thanks, ICS 620 & 621). As I reflected on that (while trying not to think about how much I hate folding laundry), I was reminded of how much CICS focuses on improving our communication skills. We certainly don’t take just one course on communication. Technical skills and communications skills are interwoven into this program, in nearly every course. Digital Forensics is an area of focus for me. That said, while I realize digital forensics is not an area of focus for very many in this program, the point that the FBI agent made about communications skills in technical jobs is applicable across the entire industry of technology-driven roles. Anyway, just thought I’d share that as a real-wold example of the expectations from two leaders in that industry.