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Students from Irvine Colleges, Universities Hone Soft Skills during Greater Irvine Chamber’s Career Edge Soft Skills Workshop

Monday, October 09, 2017

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Two dozen students from colleges and universities in Irvine participated in the Oct. 10 Greater Irvine Chamber Career Edge workshop to hone their communications skills.

The course, Mastering Communications in the 21st Century Workplace, taught by Dr. Roopa Mathur, chair and professor, School of Business Sciences, Irvine Valley College (IVC), covered a variety of business writing skills necessary for employees to express themselves appropriately and powerfully over multiple communication channels and technology platforms. The students also explored ways to effectively communicate and connect across generational, gender, age and cultural differences, and listening in order to build opportunities and consensus.

Kristina Best, who is studying accounting at IVC, said she returned to participate in her third Career Edge workshop in two years because she continues to learn new ways she can improve the way she communicates.

“I learn new things that are very practical and I can apply in work, in my education, and everyday life,” Best said. “Today I learned some subtle ways I can conduct myself better.”

Dr. Cathleen Greiner, dean, Business Sciences, Online and Extended Education at IVC, and among a group of 10 facilitators during the October workshop, said Career Edge is a unique collaboration between the business and education communities to tackle a shared problem.

“This is a unique concept, a convergence of business and education teaching students relationship building and communication skills,” she said. “Students participating in Career Edge are able to gain real-world experiences from a variety of perspectives. What they learn today, they can apply on Monday.”

For Kevin Kim, who is studying accounting at IVC, the workshop provided him with a different perspective into how workplace dynamics can affect how employees work.

“What I thought I knew and what I learned today are totally different. My entrepreneurial friends seem to think their mood doesn’t affect their employees,” Kim said. “Now I can see how being positive helps employees work more efficiently. How you talk to people matters.”

There were a few workshop take aways for first time Career Edge participant Danying Ma, who is studying business management at IVC, and who has a baby care center business in China and is looking for business opportunities in California. Resonating most with Ma was “mirror and match,” a communications technique offered by workshop facilitator John Kurth of Syntactics Sales Scripting, in which the listener positions him/herself similar to the speaker to establish a sense of commonality and comfort.

Career Edge, a simple but important solution to a challenge that Orange County companies face: new employees who arrive with the knowledge and technical skills necessary but lack satisfactory business writing, presentation, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills, is facilitated by volunteer mentors and presenters from a variety of professions.

More than 200 Irvine Valley College students have participated in the pilot phase of the Greater Irvine Chamber’s Career Edge program over the past two years. Because of the success of the pilot program, Career Edge is now being extended to students enrolled at any college or university located in Irvine.

Along with Greiner and Kurth, workshop facilitators were Joe Alvarez, telecommunications specialist; Azita Assmar, Tutor Doctor; Bill Cunningham, The BERT Foundation; Dr. Brian Dozer, director, Webster University; Brian Montes, KEB HR Managing & Consulting; Linda DiMario, executive vice president, Greater Irvine Chamber; Pepper Russell, executive assistant, Greater Irvine Chamber.

Workshop photos can be viewed here.

The next workshop of the four-part Career Edge on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018, will focus on Practical Critical Thinking & Problem Solving.

Business professionals interested in becoming a Career Edge mentor or presenter should contact Pepper Russell at or (949) 502-4129.

Category: Chamber News

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