Communication Center assists business students to improve writing skills

Ben Theobald

Business students are being criticized for their lack of skills in writing and presentation, according to the Wall Street Journal. Iowa State is responding by improving communication skills at their Communication Center.

“There are a lot of reasons that have compounded this scenario. For one, there has been a distant rise in technology to communicate,” said Abhijit Rao, director of the Communication Center. “A lot of times we have the impression that technology makes communication accessible but not necessarily high quality.”

Rao has been working at the Communication Center for three years. He helps business students on improving their communication skills.

Business students have goals that they are expected to meet.

“Disciplines have become very specialized,” Rao said. “Each discipline has its own distinct way to communicate. Different business cultures expect their employees to communicate in a certain way, and those skills need to be taught to students.”

Communication has more than one type of skill to cover now.

“Communication has become very multi-modal, not just writing or oral skills, but also visual and electronic, and all of these different modes of communication are coming together,” Rao said.

Business students have to able to present their information so it makes sense to the audience.

“The job of a business professional is going to be to take their expertise and communicate it to audiences who might not have the same expertise as them,” Rao said, “It is very important that they learn skills to communicate with both expert and lay audiences.”

The Communication Center is put together where instruction can be augmented with communication.

The staff at the Communication Center work with students who need assistance either by having them coming to the center or going to their class.

“We work with students one-on-one on their assignments or oral presentations,” Rao said. “We also go to their classes and do presentations on specific communication topics such as developing team skills.”

Rao hopes the Communication Center can attract more business students in need of assistance whether they come to them or he comes to them.

“Face time we get with the students is what hinges the success of the center,” Rao said. “It’s really important that we get the opportunity to meet with students.”

Graduate business students at Iowa State work on their communication skills as soon as they are admitted.

“Students we admit tend to have pretty good written communication skills,” said Mark Peterson, director of graduate career services. “We begin working with them right away on verbal and presentation skills. In business the focus for MBA is developing leadership and communication skills, which we drive as part of our curriculum here.”

Jordan Bergman, junior in finance agrees that business majors do struggle with writing and presentations.

“I think a lot of it is attributable to Facebook, Twitter and text messaging,” Bergman said. “There seems to be a use to abbreviating and talking that isn’t professional. People seem to have difficulty separating those two worlds and becoming more professional when you need to.”

He said students need to learn how to express their thoughts in a more professional language that is more appropriate, Bergman said.

“Most employers nowadays have communication at the top,” Bergman said. “Everybody who has a degree has those skills to an extent, but if you can’t express them then you can’t really go anywhere.”