Throughout my time in Ireland so far, learning has been one of my biggest goals. Most of the experience I have gained can be put into the context of skills. I hadn’t had a very strong understanding of what hard and soft skills were when I started, or how they would factor into my work, but now that I know the definitions its easy for my to see how what I have learned so far fits into that framework.
The hard skills I have been learning are the ones that come first to mind for me. This is because they are the skills I have been learning for the first time since working here as well as the ones that feel most important to the specific tasks I have been assigned. The biggest hard skill I have learned is navigating through the real estate software my company uses. The software is crucial to a lot of the work I have to do. I need it to find not publicly available information about properties as well as some of my tasks being entirely contained within it. I had no concept of what this would be like coming into the internship so I found it very complicated at first. With more practice I was able to get better with it but the biggest help to learning this hard skill were some of the soft skills I will talk about below.
Some of the soft skills I have been learning I have been practicing without even thinking about them too much. The biggest soft skill that comes to mind is communication. Every day I am practicing communication in one way or another. Some days are more focused on this skill than others but it is still something I practice in one capacity or the other every day. At work I practice communication between my coworkers all day long. Sometimes I am communicating through emails and at other times I am communicating face to face but both scenarios are equally important. I have found communicating face to face to be simpler than through emails so I have spent time focusing on improving that aspect of my communication. I find it hard to communicate my whole message and the feeling behind the message through email. With face to face communication I am able to easily express how I’m feeling but over email it typically is not as clear. Because of that I have been practicing how to make sure that I am being very descriptive and not leaving anything out of my communication.
Another soft skill I have been using is problem solving. From day one I have needed to problem solve almost as much as I have been communicating. I am working in an office with very experienced and knowledgeable people so when I am given a task sometimes they don’t realize I do not know how to do it. There are some times where using communication is necessary but other times where I need to figure it out for myself. That is where problem solving comes into play. I need to use resources they give me as well as some they don’t to figure out how they want something done and then do it to the best of my ability.
Both of these soft skills apply outside of work as well. Though I do less problem solving now than when I first arrived, I still had to problem solve certain things at the start of my trip. I had to figure out how to get around while I waited for my bus pass to arrive, I had to figure out how to get a sim card for my phone, and other things that just come with spending time abroad. Though now that I’ve gotten into my routine I need to problem solve a little less I still communicate just as much. Getting used to the different sense of humor that many Irish people have and learning how best to talk to them is a skill that I will be able to apply to other countries I may visit in the future.
I am grateful for the learning opportunities I have had so far in my internship. By having a knowledge of the differences between hard and soft skills I am able to see that I have used the soft skills to learn hard skills. This shows how important both sets of skills are as they are both necessary for me to utilize every day.