In the rush to train in-demand STEM skills, don’t forget about emotional intelligence

New IT communication and mindfulness training from NHTI solves industry need
NHTI IT student meditating

Concord, NH – Mindful communication isn’t a concept traditionally required when pursuing an Associate degree in an IT-related field, but at NHTI-Concord’s Community College, learning about emotional intelligence, patience, and nonverbal communication cues are key parts of the curriculum. This past fall, NHTI integrated its Mindful Communication Certificate program with the IT Department, and since then, every student pursuing an Associate degree in any of NHTI’s IT programs takes the mindful communication courses as well.

“Mindfulness involves opening one’s self more fully to moments and experiences in life so that you notice the factors that typically influence behavior and perception on an unconscious level,” said Dan Huston, NHTI English professor, who spearheaded the creation of the 11-credit Mindful Communication Certificate. “What students learn through the program allows them to be more impactful, responsive, and effective when communicating with those who lack technical knowledge, for example.”

The stereotype – and sometimes reality – of IT workers being introverted is no longer an excuse for lackluster soft skills, as employers expect new software developers, engineers, and other information technology professionals to be good communicators and collaborators to help them be more effective as teams and in project work.

In New Hampshire, technology companies are struggling to find qualified workers for thousands of currently unfilled tech jobs, according to Jason Alexander, CEO of Alexander Technology Group, a recruiting and staffing firm that serves New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

“However, few of those jobs focus solely on technology skills, especially for new graduates and those just starting out in their careers,” Alexander said. “Whether staffing a help desk or writing software for a company, understanding how to communicate with people across departments is a requirement.”

Both students and the business community say NHTI and Huston’s approach is working.

“NHTI listened to industry feedback about needing these soft skills along with the high-quality technical training,” said Ryan Barton, CEO of Belmont and Manchester-based IT and cybersecurity firm Mainstay Technologies, and a member of NHTI’s curriculum advisory committee. “The proof that the Mindful Communication in IT program is effective is in the caliber of students graduating from the program – they’re phenomenal, and the business community is noticing.”

Mindfulness and communication training is also a game changer for students as it creates opportunities for growth and leadership, flexibility, adaptability, and the confidence to handle challenges instead of avoiding them.

“I took the class because it was required, but I’m noticing it gave me the skills necessary to better relate to my friends and my family and gear my responses in a way to eliminate issues that might cause misconceptions in our conversations,” said
Jacob Washer, who is working towards his Associate degree in IT at NHTI.

The certificate in Mindful Communication includes courses in communication, English composition, introduction to literature, and a capstone course. The courses satisfy general education requirements, which means no additional coursework for students pursuing an Associate degree in IT. The program has been so popular that other departments at NHTI are considering incorporating it into their degree requirements; human services and addiction counseling just recently received final approval to include it in their programs.

Plans are also in the works to introduce more students, faculty, businesses and the community to the concept of mindfulness in communication through a conference slated for September 8. Focused on mindfulness in society, the event will include a keynote talk by Congressman Tim Ryan and several workshops by leading figures in the fields of mindfulness in education, business, healthcare, and spirituality. The event will take place at NHTI. Find more details about the conference here.

For more information about NHTI and its Mindful Communication Certificate, click here or contact Dan Huston at

Watch this short video to hear NHTI professors, students and industry professionals discuss the many benefits of the program. To learn more about mindfulness and communication, watch this TEDx talk by Professor Huston.

NHTI is a dynamic public institution of higher learning providing accessible, rigorous education, serving students, businesses and the community by creating pathways for lifelong learning, career advancement and civic engagement. With 95 full-time faculty and over 300 adjunct faculty, NHTI Concord’s Community College offers more than 90 academic programs to more than 7,000 students annually.  NHTI is a member of the Community College System of New Hampshire, and has been accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education, a nongovernmental, nationally recognized accrediting agency, since 1969.