It’s all about communication!
Many of us in IIT-Delhi love to keep ourselves busy. Whether it be studying, club activities, socializing or anything else, this fraction of IITians are always upto something constructive. I caught this “busy fever” soon after coming to IIT-Delhi and started enjoying it so much so that I got bored if I stayed too long at home. At the end of my first year, I spent the two and half months of summers in total boredom at home. Thereafter I decided that I will never spend my summers at home again. Hence during the next year, after some consultation with my seniors, I decided to apply for research internships in foreign universities. After some research, I applied to six professors from different institutions based in different countries. Only two of them ever replied back. Others probably discarded my email to thrash without even completely reading it.
This was not because I did not have a good profile; I had excellent academic record and to the best of my knowledge that is sufficient for procuring a research internship position. Then where did I lag? Those professors probably never got as far as reading my resume. When I read emails now, I feel that they are extremely sloppy and inarticulate. I lagged in my communication skills.
Like me, if you have ever failed to present yourself as a potential candidate in spite of being one, then Talerang’s second session would have helped you. This session was all about communication – both written as well as verbal. Writing and speaking persuasively are skills and like any skill, they can be cultivated and polished.
The session began with “Tell me about yourself” speeches from two of my colleagues. It is standard interview question; it has appeared unfailingly in every professional interview that I have ever given. In spite of having faced it in real interviews, I still feel awkward talking about myself. Over time I have learnt to shun the feeling off me and improved my content, yet I still make a few mistakes without realizing it. In all, I heard four “Tell me about yourself” speeches. Sukanya’s speech (Sukanya is one of my colleagues at Talerang) made me realize the importance of mannerism. Her speech was very impactful because of the way she came through and delivered it. After hearing her out, I feel motivated to try and improve my style.
After discussion on the mentioned interview question, we practiced our pre-worked elevator pitches with different partners several times in a row. My initial elevator pitch was rather too long for 30 seconds. With each turn I picked up something useful from my partner’s speech, and my elevator pitch kept evolving. I realized in order to deliver an impactful pitch, it would be better to keep focus on 2-3 relevant aspects rather than trying to fit in too many aspects in 30 seconds.
Frequently, while communicating with strangers, your writing will be the only piece of “you” that people have with them. In such a situation one cannot afford to be artless. The second half of Talerang’s second session was about developing written communication skills.
Have you ever tried writing a cover letter? I have. Over the years, I have improved my skill. I had become complacent until now…
Team Talerang had asked us to draft cover letters before coming to class. Though my cover letter was acknowledged as “good”, through the ongoing discussion, I could easily point out some subtle mistakes that I have been making in my cover letters:
- Not making sure people are okay with putting their name in the cover letter
- Making lengthy cover letters
Towards the end, we were asked to work on business emails on given topics in groups. I learnt a lot including the following:
I had never given communication skills their due importance. I had been satisfied with my current skill level and I paid the price a few times. This is not to say that I totally suck at it. I definitely don’t! But I am not the best either and that means there is scope for improvement. I won’t settle for anything less.
The second session at Talerang made me realize where I stand. Now that I have my ground zero figured, I can easily work my way up. In regards to my written communication skills, all I need is a bit of practice. This blog is doing exactly that! In regards to my oral skills I can be articulate, but I often don’t know how to start. My interpersonal skills are not good. I am trying to interact with as many people as possible and move out of my comfort zone in everything that I do. I believe that they will improve given time and effort. I am sure I will master them in no time.
With good communication skills I will have yet another missile in my arsenal. Better armed, I am sure I can fell any wall or achieve anything I set my mind to – be it an internship or a job.