June 05, 2012

Final entry for Warwick Skills Portfolio Award

In the last terms I attended 6 workshops for the Warwick Skills Portfolio:

• Reading and Note-making
• Speedy Reading
• Becoming more assertive
• Understanding your personality type
• Academic Writing at Masters level
• An Introduction to Skills Development and the Warwick Skills Portfolio

I would like to reflect my experiences and summarize the achievements obtained during this process of skill development in 2 facets: Academic skills and Personal skills. And I will look to some continuous development in future.

1. Academic Skills

Academic skills are what I care most among all kinds of skills. My developing of academic skills centred on academic writing. Before I attended any workshop, I could provide a written work neither clear nor structured, and I got low marks (55% on average) in the first two pieces of essay. Actually when I was in undergraduate period in my hometown, my dissertation was awarded distinguish, so I was very frustrated at the beginning. So I actively participated in the master's writing day and many other academic writing workshops, and I immediately mastered the rules of structuring which makes my article more clearly. At least the topic sentences could be found at the start of each paragraph.

After that I took the workshops of 'Reading and Note-making' and 'Speedy Reading'. I learned a more effective and systematic note-making method called 'Cornell's method'. It really benefit me a lot from then on, because I no longer simply copied the original sentences, but recorded my instant thoughts together with the original text when reading that paragraph, and the two distinct parts were organized in different areas in my notebook so that I can refer back to them easily. This saved my time dramatically because I don't need to read the original text again but directly use my own ideas in writing my essay. And through the daily practice for speedy reading, I could read much more books than before in very limited time.

When I took the 'Academic Writing at Masters level' workshop, I could provide a structured written work, but the clarity was still a very big problem, which made the reader difficult to understand my essay. To strengthen the links between paragraphs and to use accurate academic words, the workshop tutor recommended a useful website to me, which is called 'UEFAP', from which I learned how to correctly use the signalling words to consolidate the structure, and I tried to check whether the words in my essay conformed to the academic writing specification.

However due to my feeble language foundation, the score of my essay still laid on a low level. I then turned to the 'Peer-to-peer masters writing mentors' to get more advices before every submission and to make my essay proofread by a native English speaker according to the suggestion of my personal tutor. I eventually witnessed the progress in the third piece of work. The mark skyrocketed to 76%. This made me really happy!


2. Personal Skills

As I feel my poor language would bring me obstacles in oral communication, I never dare to talk initiatively. When I saw the workshop 'becoming more assertive', I made up my mind to change my timid personality and to perform more actively in making friends with university students and participating in university activities. From this workshop I learned how to stand firm and neutrally as an open body language, defined the features of passive, assertive and aggressive behavior and understood being assertive is not simply in the middle of the axis but a completely independent construct. And I knew about a useful planning tool recommended by the tutor, called 'SMART' plan. I found it was very pragmatic for self management of any step carried forward and the following self reflection process. Later the 'SMART' method was employed in my making plans for each Warwick Skills workshop. And the communication tips were adopted in my solving the problem with HSBC about the withdrawal of the fixed rate saver. I practiced how to state my own needs and to stand up for my own rights appropriately, so that my reasonable benefit would not be damaged.


Then I attended another workshop 'Understanding your personality type'. This helped me to know more about my personality, my strengths and weaknesses in individuality and how to get along well with people with different personality type, especially to adopt one's good points and avoid his shortcomings so as to finely complete a group task. Through talking with more people I became more confident. I applied for the Warwick Piano Competition in March and got highly commended. This is the most exciting achievement for me beyond academics.

Warwick Skills Workshops provided a good platform for us to actively inspect ourselves, to motive the improvement of our flaws, and to guide our actions using a variety of useful approaches. In fact, successful achievements are usually made through the combination of all the possible resources. The most significant consequence of the workshops is that we understand where we can find these resources and how we can take advantage of them effectively. Attending the regular workshops constantly promotes my high inspiration in putting the plans into practice.

However, it always takes time for the good effects to appear, and 'Slow and steady wins the day.' So making solid progress is an iterative process that needs to be achieved step by step. I should keep a clear and focused mind, reflect on my actions regularly, be more patient to every success and frustration and sum up my experiences in time.

December 12, 2011

Students: The 9 things that matter more than GPA

Writing about web page http://blog.renren.com/share/229442766/10584170073

Sure, your grades are important, but once you graduate and hit the office, these skills far outweigh your grade from stats class.

By Becky Johns | Posted: November 30, 2011

A friend who works with the alumni association at my alma mater asked an interesting question on Twitter.

"Listening to students worry about their GPA, does it really matter what it is? Is that an accurate summary of how you'll be as an employee" - @timbograkos

The tweets poured in, and the overwhelming sentiment was that college GPA matters very little in professional success.

Grades are the determining factor for performance in school. But in the professional world, that's not how it works. Your bosses won't tell you which questions will be on the test.

Your college GPA is a combination of several factors but isn't really the best indicator of how you'll perform in the working world. We all know that person with perfect grades who struggles socially or that person who couldn't care less about school but seems to have no trouble making great things happen in their life. Book smarts and street smarts are very different things.

Take your classes seriously. Do the work. Show up and learn something. Meet your professors. But I'm here to tell you, the GPA you achieve in college doesn't matter.

Here's what does:

Knowing how you learn

Spend time during college determining how you best learn and retain information. Some people need to see it, some need to hear it, some need to write it, and some need to practice it before it sticks. As an employee, you'll need to learn new things as you go, remember them, and prove you've absorbed the information.

Applying theory to real-life situations

It's one thing to recite the 4 P's of marketing or learn how the purchase decision funnel looks on paper, but things won't always happen in the marketplace the way they do in your textbooks. Learn how to take fundamental information and proven best practices and apply them in new situations or projects. The real world will always throw new variables at you, so knowing how to adapt theory to practice is crucial.

Time management

Learn how much time you need to research and write a paper, get to your classes and jobs on time, fit a workout in your day, and still have something of a social life. Time management is a vital skill. In your professional life, you'll need to know how to manage your time to meet deadlines, tackle to-do lists, and avoid banging your head against the wall in the process.

Relevant professional experience

Jobs, internships, student organizations, and volunteer projects in your industry will prepare you best for the working world. Do as much as you can to work in your field during college and learn about what you want to do (or in same cases, what you don't want to do). Your future employer will take your experience as the absolute best indicator for your potential in a new position.

A portfolio proving you can produce work

Keep samples of your best work from classes and internships. Many employers will want to see your work before hiring you. If you're not building a portfolio through things you're required to do before you graduate, then produce these things on your own time. Practice writing articles, press releases, pitches, designing publications, compiling clip reports, research summaries, or anything else you might be hired to do. Practice is important.

The ability to give and receive feedback

Learning to accept praise and criticism is incredibly important. You'll participate in employee reviews with your boss someday, so the ability to hear different types of feedback, internalize it, and adjust accordingly will matter to your job performance.

It's also important to learn to how to give feedback to others. When you collaborate with colleagues, you'll have to offer positive and negative comments on others' work.

Presentation skills

Offer to be the speaker on behalf of your group in your classes, and learn how to present your projects as an intern. The ability to convey ideas clearly, speak confidently with your bosses, and discuss your experience in interviews will be an important part of your professional life.

Writing skills

It's sad how many students leave college lacking solid writing ability. Focus on developing this skill, because it will matter in everything from reports to pitches to emails. You don't have to become a blogger, but finding places to practice writing content and have it edited will really help improve your skills.

Your network

You've heard it many times: "Who you know is more important than what you know." It's true. (It's what you need and who you know.) Start building your network right away. Get in the habit of meeting new people, nourishing your relationships, and helping others by making introductions. You are most likely to find job opportunities through your network. Build it!

What else matters more for students than GPA? Or am I wrong? Is GPA more important than I've made it out to be?

A version of this story first appeared on Becky Johns's blog.

November 29, 2011

how to deal with application form

Writing about web page https://myadvantage.warwick.ac.uk/ViewFaq.chpx?id=156769

Many employers request that you complete an application form. These forms will ask for basic biographical information, but will also contain open questions which many applicants find difficult to answer. Here are 9 suggestions to help you improve your responses on an application form:

  • Check the qualities the employer is seeking and show clear evidence that you possess them
  • Think about how you can show your committment and motivation to work for the organisation
  • Research the employer and the occupation so that your application is fully informed
  • Give yourself plenty of time, these things always take longer than you think and you want to do yourself justice
  • Read the form through first and make notes what you are going to say in which section
  • Select your examples from a range of settings, e.g. academic, work related, extracurricular activities, etc.
  • Use all the word space allowed, this is the chance to sell yourself
  • Make sure you keep a copy of the form so you can remember what was said when you are invited to interview
  • If English is not your first language ask an English friend or colleague to review your grammar and choice of vocabulary.

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  • thanks Fanyi by Han-na Cha on this entry
  • @Han–Na – Thank you for your blessing and I will continue to make greater progress in future. You ma… by Fanyi Lu on this entry
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