This training is to provide STEM students with necessary people skills as they enter the workforce. This training focuses on effective communications, mindset, and leadership skills to help set the students up for career success in STEM fields. My training as an electrical engineer (BS & MS), 12 years of corporate experience and 10 years of entrepreneurship and coaching help me share practical strategies through highly interactive sessions.
The material I have created for this training is divided into twelve modules. They ideally build upon each other, however they can be isolated and a training can be devised of a smaller combination of modules. The modules are are as follows.
Module 1: Mindset and Identity
The Expansive vs. Fixed Mindset is the starting point of our workplace readiness. In this module, we explore the crucial importance of our thinking and our identity as we enter a new ecosystem and transition from academia to corporate/business world. We demonstrate the pitfalls of a fixed mindset within the context of one’s role and growth, and we contrast that with benefits and success that comes from having an expansive mindset.
Module 2: Self-Awareness and Blind Spots
In this module, we focus on cultivating a sharp self-awareness as one navigates their new environment and builds an intentional and deliberate reputation. An important element of the self-awareness work is around blind spots, the areas that we are not even aware of and yet do hurt our progress and upward mobility, and how to avoid this. Part of the blind spots focus on common issues such as unconscious bias, self-defense mechanisms, and habits/patterns that no longer serve us in a professional environment.
Module 3: Confidence and the Power of Voice
Confidence is a skill that can be developed like any other, and it is accessible to everyone. In this module, we dive deep into the major components of confidence, where to start working on one’s confidence, and then we do a deep dive around the power of one’s voice. With culture gaps, personality stigmas, and language barriers, there is no short of excuses to remain quiet at meetings, and this is precisely how STEM professionals lag growth. We turn this around here.
Module 4: Communication Framework
Effective communication skills can help a professional navigate every scenario & situation that he/she is bound to face. This skill especially benefits highly technical individuals who think analytically and often lack the ability to ‘translate’ their thoughts into leadership and management language. The 4-C communication framework is a step-by-step approach with demonstrated examples on how to connect & relate to non-technical peers and with decision makers and stakeholders in one’s team/organization.
Module 5: Conversation Strategies
Most STEM professionals avoid difficult yet necessary conversations, but this is a huge disservice to their career growth. In this module we build on the effective and proven strategies to having difficult, awkward, but crucial conversations within the eco-system, whether that is to advocate for an idea, to ask for resources or support, to clear up a misunderstanding, to build trust with peers or management or other similar scenarios.
Module 6: Top-Down Communication Roadmap
As a technical person, you must learn how to be organizing your thoughts in a logical and structured manner and how to facilitate and lead meetings and how to effectively articulate your thoughts and get buy-in and arrive at mutual agreements. All of this is part of the top-down communication roadmap that we cover and practice in this module.
Module 7: Leadership Language
The influence one can exert with the right language in the business/corporate world cannot be overestimated. When you speak the leadership language in a business meeting, with your upper management, or with your executive sponsors, you influence the response and the direction of that conversation. You earn a higher level of respect, visibility, trust and far are better equipped to navigate the politics as well as the delicate situations. This crucial topic is covered in this module.
Module 8: Your Unique Serving Proposition
Even if you are an employee in an organization, you must have your own unique brand and be able to speak to your unique value and contribution. This is beyond one’s title and work responsibilities. It is the combination of three essential pillars referred to as one’s Unique Serving Proposition, how you are truly serving your environment and why you are unique in how you do it.
Module 9: Salary Negotiations
For early careerists, the concept of salary negotiation is both daunting and overwhelming. This is a skill to develop like any other and all must learn it well. Whether one is negotiating salary and compensation for a new job or in the course of a career, salary adjustments are rarely automatic. It is up to the person to lead this effort. In this module, we teachy why and how we always negotiate solely based on value, not self-worth.
Module 10: Networking and Relationship Building
Building relationships is a lifelong process in a successful career, and yet it does not come naturally to many. Regardless of one’s personality tendencies, or cultural or language barriers, everyone can learn how to network effectively at an event and how to build relationships. We go over helpful dialogue openers, and follow-up messages to nurture relationships over periods of time, and the best tools at our disposal.
Module 11: Teamwork and Effective Feedback
In almost all workplaces, you belong to a team, whether small or large, and whether you work closely together on a project or operate with a high level of inter-dependence and autonomy, working in teams is a crucial to adapting successfully to corporate. A large component of that is the ability to receive feedback to grow oneself and to give effective feedback that builds our peers up. We cover all these topics and more related ones in this module.
Module 12: Conflict Resolution and Building Trust
Conflict in a work environment is inevitable. It is how we handle it and move on from it, and how we use conflict as a means to build even deeper trust that sets apart the true savvy professional. We discuss the distinction between healthy conflict versus unhealthy conflict that needs to be resolved, and a filtering process as well as the effective dialogue to navigate a conflict resolution.
- A 15-minute advance coordination prior to start time with the facilitators
- Lecture-style interactive presentation of the material
- Breakout sessions with small groups for more personalized work, including role play on-the-spot coaching with students
- A short pre-work including 3 questions sent out to the students ahead of time
- All answers to the pre-work collated to use in the workshop
- A copy of all the training material used during workshop
- A list of resources provided to the students immediately following the workshop including:
- Top professional phrases and business vocabulary for frequent communication scenarios
- A list of positive affirmations to supplement the mindset section
- Select exercises for self-awareness and confidence building
- Recommended videos to reinforce the learning
- Exact scripts and framework for a winning dialogue during a negotiation
- Exact scripts and framework for phrasing difficult conversations
- A checklist to consult during a conflict or disagreement
- Recommended videos to reinforce the learning
Duke University – Master of Engineering Management Program
One of my favorite elements of the professional development program I managed at Duke Engineering for the Masters in Engineering Management (MEM) program was Farnoosh Brock’s excellent sessions on professionalism and communication. As a former engineer, Farnoosh immediately established credibility with our engineering students. Farnoosh’s approach was perfectly suited for our population – early career engineers who needed to learn how to communicate and operate as engineering leaders and comfortably connect with the non-technical leaders and colleagues they would collaborate with throughout their careers.
We offer a number of professional development opportunities for our students, but Farnoosh’s workshop was the best we have ever offered. We hope to bring her back for more workshops to prepare our graduates for life after college!
Carey RudellAssistant Director, Pratt School of Engineering Masters Program
Campbell University – School of Engineering
Farnoosh delivered her communications workshops for our Campbell Engineering students this spring and she was absolutely phenomenal! Our students were raving about how valuable the 3-hour workshop was in preparing them for the transition from college to the workplace. We offer a number of professional development opportunities for our students, but Farnoosh’s workshop was the best we have ever offered. We hope to bring her back to campus for more workshops to prepare our graduates for life after college!
Jenna CarpenterDean and Professor, School of Engineering at Campbell University
President-Elect, American Society for Engineering Education