I decided to join the Warwick Skills Portfolio to make the most out of the opportunities available to me here at Warwick, as well as refresh my CV and demonstrate skills that employers value. The Introduction to the Warwick Skills Portfolio Award workshop affirmed the majority of my understanding and was exactly what I was expecting. As can be seen from initial action points back in October 2011 it was always my intention to complete the workshops required:
- To commit myself to completing the further workshops and applying what I learn to my everyday life.
- To apply the skills and techniques highlighted in situations outside of my comfort zone and become more flexible and adaptable
- To improve my self reflection by listening to feedback from others and use of structured self assessment.
As can be seen from the comments in my first blog I believe I already approached many of the workshops well rounded and always looking to apply myself in areas I feel the need to develop. Therefore to improve and refresh my academic capabilities I participated in the effective seminar participation, critical thinking and writing at masters level workshops. As well as, leading a group project and working in a team to demonstrate skills employers value. I would have also liked to attend the career planning and emotional awareness workshops however, despite a demanding academic year I believe I still managed to balance my time well and make the most of the workshops available to me as well as the blogging, even though my entries may have been spread very widely throughout the year.
Some workshops I gained a lot more than I expected, in particular the working in a team workshop was really interesting and engaging.
Taking the personality type indicator tests and learning about the Belbin theory framework was completely new to me and opened up a new area of understanding concerning group dynamics that I could relate to and apply to the large number of group work assignments I had throughout the year. Attending this workshop also led me into the Warwick Leadership scheme, a pilot scheme and something which I was clearly attracted to according to my Belbin preferred roles as a resource investigator and co-ordinator - naturally associated with leadership. I was also particular interested in the Leadership scheme, which although was separate to the Skills Portfolio Award offered a lot of overlap to the workshops I attended and really helped to consolidate what I learned.
Alongside the leadership scheme, working in a team and leading a group project workshops, I was also impressed with the engaging teaching provided in the effective seminar participation and learning exercises in the developing your critical thinking workshops. Although some of the information provided was already familiar to me, the greater detail the effective seminar participation workshop went into concerning maximising the perception of confidence with body language and taking responsibility for being active and engaging with strangers gave me plenty of points to take away and apply. The learning exercise of testing arguments by exploring different points of view in 'The Queen v Dudley and Stephens' case study as part of the critical thinking workshop was also a very good example of how to apply critical thinking and although confirmed the majority of my understanding it was an engaging way to remind me of the necessary skills at Masters level after being away from academics for a year as a ski instructor, during my gap year.
As mentioned, even though some of the aspects covered in the workshops may have been familiar, it was still important to me or portrayed in a new and engaging way that kept my interest. For example, working in a team and leading a group project may have overlapped a lot with the leadership scheme but each was an important part to my overall learning. I even attended the introduction to academic writing at masters level workshop just to refresh my understanding but still came away with new ideas such as adding a wider perspective or purpose for the work in my conclusions, which are valuable contributions to my work.
The blogging experience was also something new to me and although it was tedious at times to bring myself to do after long hours of lectures or group work I now understand and fully appreciate its importance in achieving the necessary self reflection which was one of my initial action points to improve from the very first workshop. Overall, I believe I have achieved or at least remained mindful of all of the action points I set myself for each workshop and could only have done this by blogging to remind myself and apply the learning to my experiences throughout the academic year.
Finally, I would like to thank all of the tutors involved in the Warwick Skills Portfolio Award and Leadership scheme for their time and efforts in preparing these workshops. The academic and careers skills workshops have been particularly valuable to me as such opportunities were not as openly available during my undergraduate studies. Plus, the opportunity to discuss and learn new perspectives from students from such diverse cultural and academic backgrounds has definitely helped to develop my maturity and become as well rounded as possible. I only wish I had the time and more importantly, the energy, to attend more workshops and blog about them.
To finish, I wish the University of Warwick and Skills Portfolio Team all the best for the future and hope it continues to inspire and develop its students.
MSc Biotechnology, Bioprocessing & Business Management