My hope is that after their tenure with World in Conversation (WinC), be it one semester or six, WinC student facilitators will exude excellence in everything they do. I want them to have the experiences and skills to be able to pursue their dreams and inspire others to do the same in conscious, compassionate, and confident ways. As Program Manager, I serve as the link between our staff and students and I work to carry these aspirations with me into each training class, each meeting, and each interaction that I get to have with our exceptional students. And, it just so happens that the cool, innovative, and difficult work of facilitating dialogues with their peers locally and internationally will give them skills that are demanded by today’s job market.
In a recent survey sent out by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) to companies like Chevron, IBM, and Seagate, employers ranked the skills they seek in new hires:
- Ability to work in a team structure
- Ability to make decisions and solve problems (tie)
- Ability to communicate verbally with people inside and outside an organization
- Ability to plan, organize, and prioritize work
- Ability to obtain and process information
During their time with WinC, students are given countless opportunities to foster these skills. The process of gaining these skills begins in our foundational training course where students are challenged to explore and adopt character traits such as being true to their word, staying away from taking things personally, developing a vigilant awareness about assumptions, and working to always put their best work into the world. These ideals provide them with the inner fortitude to flourish in a team structure. Team’s require commitment, they require a “greater than me perspective,” and they require the skills of being an effective communicator. By learning how to build rapport, using reflective listening, asking open ended questions, and fostering conversation between diverse demographics, our students are given the opportunity to practice these valuable skills.
In our advanced skills training course, students are asked to examine decisions that they have made or could be making regarding what skills and techniques to employ when facilitating dialogues. We train student facilitators in the Socratic Method to expand perspectives and invite greater understanding during their programs and they’re consistently exposed and immersed in this methodology during their advanced skills training course. This practice is a unique yet essential form of problem solving which relies on students abilities to obtain and process often contentious, personal ideas and experiences.
As each semester progresses, students must be able to organize, plan, and prioritize their ten to twelve hours of work per week with WinC in addition to their other classes, jobs, and organizational responsibilities. While the process at times can be maddening, it serves as an invaluable preparation for their postgraduate lives. “No matter what you have studied in school, whether anthropology or French or computer science, you will have had to learn the top five skills on the list” says Susan Adams of Forbes Magazine. It’s the experiences they have at WinC that help them to develop very skills that prepare them for the job market, the “real world” and an ability to enter the future with confidence, compassion, and credibility.