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May 21, 2013

Stepping into the world : From Student to Alumni

Life after Warwick :first blog after entering into the world of work

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August 12, 2012

Final entry for Warwick Skills Portfolio Award

REFLECTION: From the beginning to the endlmaskot, great achievements

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. final

Key Aspects


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.

FINAL WORDS..............................


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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.

A thoroughly fitting and memorable way to end this journey of personal development and achievement along with the LONDON Olympics 2012.

KIND REGARDS

Melvin Jose


MSc Biotechnology, Bioprocessing & Business Management (2011-2012) University of Warwick


August 02, 2012

P1 Follow Up 4:The Final Review "Introduction to skills development & the Warwick Skills Portfolio

Follow-up to P1 Follow–Up 3: An introduction to skills development and the Warwick Skills Portfolio from Melvin's blog

“Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement” -C. S. Lewis

Looking back on the path that I treaded on since the workshop, a lot of hurdles, falls and successes can be seen. All of these together played a critical role into changing my mindset and the person I am with the way I do things.

So firstly, my action point encompass the following:

1. Taking actions towards becoming more active and pragmatic; I chose the following actions from the Learning Styles Questionnaire (Honey, P., 2008)

O Backing a hunch once in a while, rather than over analysing. Allowing myself to trust my feelings more.

O Take a challenge and try the different ways of doing things rather than being set in tried and tested ways all the time.

O Reflect on pieces of work prior to submission by having a few rough drafts .

2. Take the complete Vark questionnaire from vark-learn.com; this will hopefully help me fully understand my favoured learning styles, along with providing methods to develop my less favoured one.

3. Develop my under-developed skills; namely assertiveness, presentational and organisational, with the help of the Warwick Master Skills Programme and some practice.

ladBeing more active and pragmatic was an initial goal. This included a number of occasion where I trusted my feelings backing my hunches with a number of situations. It was particularly hard to let loose as I generally tend to analyse a situation from every possible angle before jumping in with both feet. However, I did succeed in implementing that action potential with cooking, as well as with work at times ( there were moments where other colleagues would mention the structure for the essay had to be in the style stated; however I believed my structuring was more suited to my piece of work). In the latter case, it did prove to be useful as my style stood out, however because I worked hard and ensured the contents were good the marks were good. Nevertheless, my main point of development from this A.P. would be the fact that it built trust of oneself and your judgement. It also allows you let your hair down and add some surprise to things ( however be careful where you chose to implement hunches rather than common sense :P).

Additionally, these events have been challenges which I tackled in other ways than the tried and tested ways. Slightly daunting with the risk of messing up the occasions we definitely character building experiences. However, it has really helped me with creativity and expand on my problem solving skills. As in the case of the basketball society scenario I mentioned in my 4th follow up for team working, using the library as an advertising location to recruit a videographer was an exemplar situation tackled in this way. Actually also developing on my work ethic and management I found time to review and reflect on work I had done prior to submitting it as well as being creative with it. It truly has enlightened me to the importance and benefits it harbours in giving your best as well as the factor that reflection on something helps you pick out its good and bad points and also improve it. Reflection however doesn’t stop there. It helps with future organisation and reflection on past successes and failures to hone the results of the future in your favour.

The VARK questionnaire results for the questionnaire I did, showed that I am the kind of person who likes lists, definitions and quotations as well an unmistakeable knack for visual representations. I used this in my current lectures as well as project work, and plan to continue doing so for note taking in the corporate world outside. Also, the VARK introduced me to ways in which I can improve my intake of information, which helps in both attending seminars/talks as well as doing research and assignments.

Foremost skill areas for improvement, I mainly named assertiveness, presentational and organisational. As my personal goals, and then attending a workshop, followed by personal efforts, I am making improvements with personal triumphs that really motivate me to keep at it.

Where do I go from here?asdfw

I am intended on continuing with my new found personal traits, being more active and pragmatic certainly works for me and improving my output from the day, both work wise and emotionally. Backing my hunches was one of the reason I did the workshop to input into ‘Warwick’s online resource for presentations’, as overanalysing it would mean looking at the time it took and if I could use the time elsewhere. I just had a feeling it would be good to give back something to Warwick, as their workshops on presentations had really improved me. Backing my hunch meant I trusted my feelings more, but also that I felt personal satisfaction and good because I had helped give my bit into a resource that would help students who were in the same bad position I was initially in with presentations. It proved to be a delight on a personal. Additionally the unexpected voucher was nice too J.


Best Regards

Melvin


August 01, 2012

P1 Follow–Up 3: An introduction to skills development and the Warwick Skills Portfolio

Follow-up to Follow–Up 2:An introduction to skills development and the Warwick Skills Portfolio from Melvin's blog


“Don't take life too seriously. You'll never get out of it alive.”

- Elbert Hubbard

The last number of days have been perfect settings for the implementation of my methodology for the dissertational reading. After a thorough meeting with my supervisor came the occasions to actually print off a whole wad of journals and starting the actual and dreaded task of reading them.I must say though the methodology I initially thought about trying to get the whole picture is rather useful, especially initially starting the reading process. After reading a few pages I would try to create a mind map. I did help me start until the point I found it to be taking up time and feeling guilty thinking “Rather than wasting time creating diagrams, I could actually read up on much more!”

I still think it is a good tool to start me off at the beginning of every morning prior to starting my reading sessions; recapping the material from previous day. Adding to this I also thought after reading through all the material from an article or journal making a mind map consolidates all the read material while also keeping a more personalised overview of the text read for future reference, rather than going to the whole paper again (which would be daunting :O ). So, final views on the making the dissertational reading more visual, I believe I was over stepping the line by actually doing each page as a spider diagram. However, summarising a 15 page article into a summary diagram is very useful and helps me to retain material a lot. The best factor is the future reference one, where I will have to only read through 50 spider diagrams rather than 50 articles with 15 pages each!!!

On another interesting note, I have made progress with my action points in being more pragmatic and active. These I try to apply to everyday, especially if I’m feeling lazy or down as forcing myself to act on things with those points in mind always changes improves my mood.

My initial action point was “Backing a hunch once in a while, rather than over analysing. Allowing myself to trust my feelings more.” Even though I don’t always do things blindly without analysing it completely, following the workshop I have tried to apply it. Having the sense of uncertainty every now an then, based on hunches was quite thrilling and satisfying, the latter being true as it had made me trust my feelings a more. Just over a week ago, I was actually looking to get back in shape with fitness and health wise.

drz


After getting back on my fitness regime, I came across a tv show during which they talked about having a health drink in the morning would be really good. They mentioned “Dr.Oz green drink” which contained fruit and veg blended together. Initial idea was appealing but looking at what it looked like it was different story, but I still believed it might be good and an interesting change.

 wsaSo rather than following the one they mentioned I thought I’d alter it with different ingredients. Adding honey and mint to flavour it, and kind of basing the contents on what was on the fridge contents :D .


I just followed a hunch and this was the result >>>>>>>>>>>>.

A glass of health and flavour and a very questionable shade of green. However, following my instinct during the ingredients choice process whilst making the drink, the result was surprising. “IT ACTUALLY TASTED PRETTYY GOOD” , especially my thought of adding ‘MINT and HONEY’.Adding to it, I’ve been taking it for about a week now, and it is actually helped with my general stamina and becoming leaner as well as toning up. I have seen a significant physical difference, considering I haven’t been working out crazily. I might have come with a new entrepreneural product :P

Another feat of achievement was that at one instance I tackled both the first action point of backing hunches and the second one “Take a challenge and try the different ways of doing things rather than being set in tried and tested ways all the time”. This time was it was quite a risky situation considering at 4/5 pm I was asked to handle the family dinner for than day, as my mum would be late.

Well, rather than panicking I was in quite a jolly mood, considering I had won at basketball few hours back. I set about the task of assessing of what to make, something different and came across some packs of noodles. Not knowing any specific recipe or dish, I was an amateur with no idea as to go about it. It was a challenge as I had no idea what I was making and still had no idea as to what I made at the end of it J I just kept backing my hunches, tasting it every now and then, being dangerously creative. It was a challenge all I had in front of me before I started was only a pack of noodles with no recipe. Additionally I also had some chicken drumstick which I had no idea what to do with :O (at one point I was tempted to deep fry it J ) I blindly let me tongue decided the spices or ingredient choice and marched on. Now for the surprise, the result was astonishing and apparently got compliments, with my brother requesting me to make it again, two time since then.

 qsa



ndle<<BEFORE AFTER>>>

dnrer







Now for the last action point “Reflect on pieces of work prior to submission by having a few rough drafts”. This was one I implemented especially in my last assignment I handed in yesterday. I made sure I finished it 2 days before and spent the time to alter parts. The time for reflection helped me find a lot of errors in grammars, as well as helped me come up with better ways of expressing my ideas rather than half a page of text. It also helped me realise that there were parts which could be developed better and critically helping me come up with a better positioning for my report. Even though finishing a report once and for all is good , and doing it one stretch and never looking back at it is good, reflection did really help me in making sure I was giving me best for the assessment.
Reflection also followed after handing in of the report, however not on improving the report but on the fact “Now I have finished my report, what should I do? How to go about getting on the dissertation or take a break”. Just a reflection on what I have achieved, what is left and where to progress from here .

Overall these tools are really shaping day to day life making them interesting and increasing the value of my inputs every day.


Best Regards

Melvin


July 25, 2012

Follow–Up 2:An introduction to skills development and the Warwick Skills Portfolio

Follow-up to P1 Introduction to skills develpment and WSPA from Melvin's blog


This is a long overdue post, for an update on my progress. Last few weeks being riddled with work and other commitments restrained me from writing this up. So taking the complete VARK questionnaire, my results are as follows:

Visual: 13
Aural: 9
Read/Write: 10
Kinaesthetic:8
Following an inner look into my preferences of working and relating to the results, seems to be a perfect fit. My visual style of working suits me very well and I realise it is one that I work best at. Looking back at times when I have incorporated this specific style, the results speak for themselves; as I have done well 95% of the times. I believe it is during these occasions, when I use the visual models that I actually enjoy the work the most and am thoroughly soaked in it.
Overall the results illustrated that I had a ‘MULTIMODAL’ Learning Preference, which suits perfectly with my knack for adaptability to any situation, suiting my learning style to the surrounding environment and people. Putting basis on selected style on how others also would prefer it, such as change styles based on how the person marking the assignment would prefer. This is something I have been doing without thinking and only now has come to my knowledge. My last presentation was a reflection of this when I tailored my presentation based on how the professor gave his lectures. Putting more text in, simple layout etc.
However, I still have a strong preference for ‘VISUAL’, and this was clear in my presentation, as I still wanted to make sure the ppt looked really good in the colours and smart art used.

2.jpg1.jpg


However I do believe that reading and writing styles are vital part in successful every day workings regardless of subject or career path. The biggest issue I have with this model is the need to use for more than more than 1 style to understand . Thus it is clear that I emphasise my visual and write/read styles. And is something I should build on for anything I work on, particularly coming to mind using this style for my dissertational reading.
So something I could implement would be the following procedure, when thorough reading is not helping me ( this is the case once I have been reading for a while). Hence these steps could work together with the Speedy reading techniques to achieve my common goal of ‘Understanding all the text well to compile an effect thesis’.

visual6.gif




Techniques suggested by VARK:
INTAKE:





SWOT PACKAGE: Restructuring the text to support understanding and retention. Thus obtaining a more holistic picture.

visual3.gif










Finally, to assess your comprehension or to help with learning:

visual5.gif


“You want the whole picture so you are probably holistic rather than reductionist in your approach. You are often swayed by the way something looks. You are interested in colour and layout and design and you know where you are in your environment. You are probably going to draw something.”
THAT was the final statement given about my particular style and it is a clear reflection of myself, in specific about my top most style ‘VISUAL and WRITE/READ’. Both of which are truly reflected in everything I do; Look at the all my blog posts for instance J
I truly believe that these are the smallest but life changing discoveries about oneself in the present that could really affect and mould the person you become in the years to come.


Regards

Melvin


July 04, 2012

P1 Introduction to skills develpment and WSPA



Follow-Up 1: An introduction to skills development and the Warwick Skills Portfolio

Workshop Tutor: Han-Na Cha

Introduction

I wanted to attend this workshop for a long time now; I had already participated in five different workshop from the Master Skills Programme, and I thought that I have to attend the “Introduction to skills development and the Warwick Skills Portfolio” just because it’s a requirement for the Award, I was wrong! As it turned out to be a most informing experience, in which I was presented with various tools and techniques to gauge my skills, determine what had room for improvement and recognize my learning style. I found it very important, because up till that moment I was only deciding what workshop to attend based on intuition, now I have a scientific method.

An example, the learning styles questionnaire which reflected my learning preferences as follows (learning style followed by score):

  • Activist: 4
  • Theorist: 8
  • Reflector: 5
  • Pragmatist: 6

This showed me what areas could be improved; activism and reflections. In the action plans I shall address these.tlswheelfull_clickable.gif
However, these did not reflect perfectly my styles as I tend to be a mix of the different ones giving preference varying on situations. Considering the questionnaire gave me a low preference for the majority and only one moderate preference, is an incorrect representation of my styles. But observing the different questions I was able to pick up points to improve on, my action points.

But the workshop wasn’t all about information and work, it was fun as well, and I had the chance to connect on a much personal level than usual with other participant, because the number of students was low, which also meant that each one had the enough time to express what was on their mind, besides the Han-Na was very friendly and lively, contributing hugely to the success of this friendly workshop.

In the following part I will make my action points as SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant & Timely) as possible.

Action Points

1. Taking actions towards becoming more active and pragmatic; I chose the following actions from the Learning Styles Questionnaire (Honey, P., 2008)

o Backing a hunch once in a while, rather than over analysing. Allowing myself to trust my feelings more.

o Take a challenge and try the different ways of doing things rather than being set in tried and tested ways all the time.

o Reflect on pieces of work prior to submition by having a few rough drafts .

2. Take the complete Vark questionnaire from vark-learn.com; this will hopefully help me fully understand my favoured learning styles, along with providing methods to develop my less favoured one.

3. Develop my under-developed skills; namely assertiveness, presentational and organisational, with the help of the Warwick Master Skills Programme and some practice.

Best Regards

Melvin Jose


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  • Hi Melvin, I look forward to your blog! All the best, Margie by on this entry
  • Hi Melvin, That's a great result :) Really pleased for you. Just to let you know, I'm postponing the… by Han-na Cha on this entry
  • Hi Han–Na, Sorry for the late reply…. I've been out of town for a while. I'm so sorry but I won't … by Melvin Jose on this entry
  • Hi Melvin, I can't remember whether you got back to me about being a presenter – would you like to s… by Han-na Cha on this entry
  • Hi Melvin, Just realised that I hadn't commented on your comment. the event is a WSPA showcase event… by Han-na Cha on this entry

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