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YOUNGSTOWN For starters, hone up on communication skills



Published: Sun, January 6, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The right combination of skills can make the difference of a starting salary and a promotion.

YOUNGSTOWN -- As with every new year, a new group of young adults and teens will be entering the work field.

Every student has dreams of landing a great-paying job right after college. But what will be the best jobs in 2002?

"In general, the better prepared someone is in communications and computers, the better off they will be," advises Dr. Ram Kasuganti, management department chairman at Youngstown State University.

Gwen Clark, YSU's coordinator of professional practice, agrees. "You must have computer skills -- basically everything you are doing is revolved around a computer," she said.

Differences: They disagree, however, on the most important skill in the work field.

"You must have communication and computer skills, no matter what your degree is. If a person is not technically prepared, they will have a difficult time," Kasuganti said.

Clark said computer skills should not be No. 1 on the skills list. "I feel there is a level of communication skills that a person must have in order to be successful," she noted.

Clark broke down these communication skills: Listen, present, understand and interpret, and have some sort of written or verbal skills. Interpersonal skills fit in this category as well.

"People must have a collaboration of skills so everyone wins," said Clark.

She believes very strongly in these communication and interpersonal skills: "Having these skills can make the difference in a starting salary and a promotion."

Also useful: Kasuganti went a step further: people also need highly attainable "soft skills," for which there is no college degree.

He broke soft skills into four parts: Analytical, strategic, leadership and team oriented.

"You can't be a specialist and have soft skills; soft skills require a well-rounded person who contains many assets," said Kasuganti.

Craig Simpson, associate director at the Kent State University's Career Services Center, shared some similar views.

"Every employer is looking for some type of communication skills, whether it be getting along with clients or written communication skills," he noted.

"Working with others as a team is essential in the work force," said Simpson.

He also stressed the role of internships.

"It's not so much the grade-point average. Sure, it's a qualifier, but so is any experience someone gets," said Simpson. He said there is a greater chance of hiring through internships.

Two other hot fields are accounting and engineering.

Kent State is host to an annual accounting internship each fall.

"We had over 300-plus interviews in eight days this past fall and there are still people trying to get interviews," said Simpson.




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