Final entry for Warwick Skills Portfolio Award
So this is the final entry to piece together all the different bits that have come together at different times of the year, all aiding in my personal development in different avenues. Looking back I have completely changed in the way I act, communicate , handle myself, interact with others as well as they way I think and assess situations. It has provided me with a plethora of skills. So in this final entry bringing together all the portfolios, I will reflect back on each workshop and experiences that I have been through on this road of assessing and developing oneself.
My personal development has been in two facades, academia and personal growth. In this modern world establishing mastering in both aspects sets you apart as an individual in personal and work life.
Even though I am completing a masters degree at the moment improving on both levels were of utmost importance, as each had far reaching implications. Thus all of the skills modules I undertook were centred around those specific skills that would have the most impact.
Before I attended any workshops, I was quite unorganised with quite a number of all nighters. Thus this aspect of time management was met through me taking the workshop on ‘Organising myself and my time’. I consistently established all taught aspects from this workshop into improving my organisation as it had a considerable effect on my performance during my course.
Additionally, I needed improvements in delivering presentations, which were a significant part of the assessments for the course. Having a very bad experience with this aspect last year, it was the area I was most frustrated with and always dreamt of being able to speak/present with confidence. So I actively participated in any presentational workshops and resources to master the different attributes that make up the perfect presentation. Even though I was not perfect to get 100% , I did ensure all the aspects of were covered and presented clearly as well as attractively following the workshop.
Furthermore I took the workshop of 'Speedy Reading', a valuable tool especially in a masters degree with a multitude of reading materials with so little time to complete. I learned a more effective and systematic method of reading especially establishing the use of the well known GUIDE. It really benefited me a lot from then on, because I no longer worried about running through the materials for the course and was faster with better comprehension. Rather I made it a personalised style of reading, recording my instant thoughts together with the original text when reading that paragraph, and also highlighting parts to split the different parts so that I can refer back to them easily. This saved my time dramatically because I didn'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.
On a personal level I always saw myself as passive in my approach and thus posing obstacles in oral communication, I never dared 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 behaviour and understood being assertive is not simply in the middle of the axis but a completely independent construct.
As an aspect of personal development ‘The Organising yourself and your time workshop’ was truly vital. Whilst forcing me to assess myself, I was able to get a true insight into what were my time stealers. During the workshop I was also introduced to a useful planning tool recommended by the tutor, called 'SMART' plan. This in specific I found 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 both from the ‘Delivering effective presentations and the being assertive workshops’, were adopted in my solving problems in a range of situations during group session, talking with friends and family, and even during basketball games. 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. In specific these were implemented alongside techniques and effective team role assessment from the ‘Working in a team workshop’ during group projects, which were numerous on this course.
Finally the “An Introduction to Skills Development” workshop stands on its own. I feel that the things I learnt about skills development as opposed to actual skills were merely side-effects of the process - for example, setting goals that actually have benchmarks with which they can be measured (a goal that I learnt several times over across all the workshops and may even only now be beginning to stick). In short, I feel this was more… solid than the meta-skills workshop I was expecting. Then again, the best way to learn the meta-skills is through experience, and you can’t really make action points about something theoretical - “I will make an action point that is measurable” doesn’t really work. I don’t recall SMART goals being emphasized here, though (I believe they were in P7) and it does seem like a rather good place for them. This workshop on the other hand picked up on personal attributes to build general confidence through action points that force me to be more pragmatic and active. As well as doing this it also helped in personal assessment of learning styles through the VARK questionnaire, all helping me pick up areas to tackle as well as areas I am naturally good at and prefer, thus ensuring I use these to the fullest. I found out I am naturally a visual and read/write learner. Once conscious of this fact I ensured I used these aspects to get the best out of anything I do, especially in the dissertational work.
Reflecting on all of the workshops there were two specific ones which I found very enjoyable, P4 and A7
Delivering effective presentations, P4, was the most enjoyable workshop, and the first I was willing to actively recommend attending (truely valuable in practicality and effectiveness)! More like active training than a seminar (in concordance with the subject matter). I rather liked and instinctively feared the “Did you think you’d be sitting at a desk while I lectured you on presentation techniques?”, as well as the HUMMING ON THE BRIDGE. Bev was very professional and authoritarian from the outset; this alongside the Becoming more assertive felt like ones you’d actually pay to attend. I attended this one just when the most of the presentations had to be given. Thus the bulk of the improvement came from the workshop itself and directly implementing in the plethora of presentations faced. Additionally the practice was done in little conversations with friends, family or even whilst talking to the bank manager about why I should be allowed to increase my overdraft. Thus the progress I obtained was comparable to nearly a year’s worth of practice, reflection and application; very concentrated times for implementation meant a much more thorough and focussed approach with immediate results, improving my results from late 50%s to high 70’s%.
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.
So finally I would say these workshops have taken me far and completely changed me, instilling a range of skills that I continue to better every day. Overall I must say this was a thoroughly thrilling and exhilarating time with a range of experiences, good and bad, all teaching and helping me to develop. There is no better way I could have used my time, and believe the WARWICK SKILLS PORTFOLIO AWARD was an investment in my future maximising the perception of self/esteem and confidence. All of these established in the way I communicate and in body language. A Heartfelt thank you to the University of Warwick and the Warwick Skills Team.
MSc Biotechnology, Bioprocessing & Business Management (2011-2012) University of Warwick