IS 209 : Professional Skills Workshop


Through lecture and teamwork, to acquire the knowledge and practice the skills required to be a successful professional. Regardless of your particular technical skill set or job responsibility, every professional must understand how to operate within the complex organism that is a modern corporation. "Professional Skills" are that set of learned behaviors that make an individual a productive, effective, and valuable member of the organization.


The class will present the Software Development Life Cycle, and the roles and responsibilities of the various participants in any large and complex information system project. This "Role based" assessment allows the explicit analysis and documentation of the data flows between people as a formal element of the process.


On a more specific level, the class will explore:


o       Consulting Skills: how to engage with a client, scope, collect data, analyze and recommend action. The class will clearly delineate "findings", "conclusions", and "recommendations".

o       Presentation skills: how to create and deliver focused and effective presentations. The class will present tools and techniques, as well as provide a forum to practice delivering presentations (multiple times). The class will provide targeted feedback: this is a chance to hone your skills in a low-risk environment.

o       Legal issues, agreements and contracts: what you need to know to stay out of trouble. Employment Agreements, Contractor Status. Harassment, Intellectual Property, Confidential Information/NDA, basics of contracts (Term, Termination, Entire Agreement, etc)

o       The language and basics of project management: resources, dependencies, critical path analysis, contingencies. Not every project demands full-time project management, but every engagement demands that workflow be managed, and the fundamentals of project management are critical for every professional. Moreover, the language of project management must be mastered.

o       Deliverables: the documents you create as a professional consultant.Designs, Plans, Specifications, Proposals. What are these documents, and how are they organized? Examples will be distributed and reviewed.

o       The Basics of Budgeting: how to develop and present a budget for any project. Fundamentals of accounting, capital vs. operating expenses, depreciation. "Money talks" and every professional must be able to talk about money properly.

o       Interviewing skills: hiring and getting hired, data gathering, informational. Preparation, Interpersonal, legal issues.

o       Meeting skills: how to run an effective meeting. Preparation and planning, communication, tools, facilitation. Your ability to produce quality results is often gated by your ability to gather information and build consensus - often in group settings.

o       Fundamentals of people management: credibility, communication, performance assessment, leadership. When / if you become a manager, there are lots of skills and training required; in one session, we will review the core survival skills of a first-line manager. At a minimum, this session will help you assess if your manager is doing a good job, and will help you become a "low maintenance" employee.


See this schedule for details of what and when

This class will demand engagement from all participants in the class. This is not a chance to "sit back and listen silently". The class will discuss approaches to collaborative problem solving, formal planning and documentation processes. The good news is that much of this discussion will be focused around your projects with the express purpose of improving their quality.


At this point in your education, each of you can do great work, on your own. Projects are made infinitely more complicated when the effort is large enough to require a team effort. Clarity of vision, division of labor, common direction, dovetail of deliverables -- THIS IS HARD TO DO AND REQUIRES PRACTICE




This course will be taught by Michael Schaffer, a Lecturer at the iSchool. Michael currently serves as Chief Technology Officer of Alibris, an eCommerce company headquartered in Emeryville. Alibris sells used and new books, movies, and music connecting a network of thousands of independent booksellers to millions of customers, directly through the web and indirectly through partnerships with all the major online and many traditional book retailers.



The class meets weekly on Wednesday afternoons, 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm.

Office Hours immediately follow, 4:00 pm -- 5:00 pm.

Please drop a line to Michael in advance (mws "at"