Final entry for Warwick Skills Portfolio Award
Last year in October, when I started my journey with Warwick Uni and Career & Skills Centre, I would have never thought that it is possible to shape one person’s personality, perception and attitude to both professional and personal life to such extent. During the last 9 months, I have been learning, experiencing and developing, I have become more flexible, open-minded and proactive. In those following lines, I will try to sum up all the experiences I have gained from WSPA workshops.
The very first workshop I attended was P1 – Introduction to WSPA. Taking P1 at the very beginning helped me to understand the structure of WSPA. More importantly, I have learnt how to be more reflective which is a must when it comes to blogging. Samena showed us how to analyse an experience, how to judge what we might do better and how to make a conclusion for the future. Reflection is a part of the learning curve which is an ongoing process and requires a huge amount of time. We also had the opportunity to take the Skills Questionnaire which helped me to assess my own skills so as to decide where to devote what amount of my free time. I have also got used to using SMART technique which helps me to set specific and measurable goals that are realistic and achievable in a shorter period of time.
As far as presentational skills are concerned, I took part in Delivering Effective Presentations workshop. In November, I was supposed to deliver an online presentation in Athens and Bev’s tools really helped me to shine. I followed the P rules: Performing, Power, Pitch, Pace and Prepare & Practise. The presentations which we were delivering on the workshop revealed the fact that stress plays an important role in my performance. Therefore, I understood that in my case it is even more important to prepare and practise. Speaking to the public through an online platform is even more difficult because you are more likely to lose the control over your body language, facial expressions and voice intonation. Having discussed the effective participation on the workshop, I was equipped with the know-how of how to present a confident person to the world. Working with Bev was an incredible experience, she is great at what she does which definitely contributes to helping students open up and get the most out of them.
Throughout the year, I had the opportunity to get to know my personality better. P10 – Understanding the Personality Type with Mary and P3 – Working in a Team with Trudy put the labels on my strengths and weaknesses. MBTI helped me to understand my preferences and the way I think. I have understood the factor behind my drive and motivation. It has proven that the logical and analytical thinking behind my decisions are not just random variables, and that the systematic and practical approach to solving problems does contribute to being more efficient. However, when it comes to Extrovert/Introvert part, leaning towards both ISTJ and ESTJ is indeed a bit awkward, but it has its positive side too. I believe both provide a room for improvement. Therefore, I was focusing in the blog on how to manage my high expectations and goals and how to trust my intuition more often. The intuition does make a great impact when running towards the expected achievement. Changing he way we think and deal with things and people is a long-term process. Now, I see that often the 3% of the additional time spent on re-thinking, over-thinking and analysis are not worth the 30% of the final result that can be achieved elsewhere with the same amount of time and effort.
With regard to Working in a Team, Belbin questionnaire has proven the results from MBTI. Although MBTI focuses on the personality in general, most of the attributes can be observed in the working environment too. Belbin questionnaire explained to me the different roles that people can play within a team. I was surprised by the results. Again, it confirmed my preferences. And more importantly, it also presented those roles in which I should not be engaged so as to make the most of my strengths and enjoy the work. Having implemented the Belbin system in one of the group works we had in the second term, I have learnt to observe and assess the members of the group so as to understand the group dynamics and my role within the team. According to the advice from Belbin’s results, I appear not to be comfortable when taking orders from other people. Therefore, when electing the group leader, I decided not to run for the position in order to learn how to discipline myself. I have to admit, it wasn’t an easy task to do, especially with my goal-driven and competitive personality. On the other hand, when I stepped back, I was able to see the roles that people had adopted within that specific team. Only then I could see the strengths and weaknesses in the team and which roles you should take so as to spread the skills amongst the roles.
Reading and Note-making workshop with Han-na was very useful. The revision in the third term is quite extensive. Therefore I decided to start using mind-mapping and Cornell Note-taking when preparing revision notes. Moreover, I was also focusing on improving my reading and revision skills. All the changes helped me to structure the learning process and absorb more information whilst still remaining fresh and relaxed. After sitting 7 exams, I can honestly say that having a structure in revising does make a huge difference and I would not be able to feel that confident about the exams if it weren’t for this workshop.
Due to focusing a lot on my professional development, I decided to devote some time to gaining work-life balance. Boston EI questionnaire showed me the areas in which I should improve. Emotion management and Emotional coaching are indeed important for gaining such balance. However, if a person wants to bring the emotions under control, he/she needs to find the “tap” through which to let the steam off first. As mentioned before, stress has become an inseparable part of my life, so I needed to find or create a passion for something outside the work. I tried both active and passive activities, such as listening to meditation podcasts, attending mindfulness at work, running or fitness. Interestingly, the active ones seem to work better for me. I feel more energized, relaxed and focused. Such state of mind and body also contributes to being more open-minded and improves active listening. Now, when talking to friends about their problems or concerns, I am able to be fully engaged in the discussion because I am not tied up to my problems.
Lastly, one of the recent workshops I participated in was Career Planning with Fiona. Combined with Strengths at Warwick workshop, drop-in sessions and mock interview, I gained a huge portfolio of information and advice for shining at the interview. The workshop was a kick-start of the preparation. Having only one chance, one bullet, I wanted to approach every single stage of the application process with the feeling that I did everything I could for the success. It was a long and time-consuming process, but at the end I was able to present myself in front of the managers with confidence. I knew how to reflect on my past achievements so as to show the transferable skills gained. After 4 interviews in a row where I had to handle tough, sometimes even tricky questions from managers and directors, I must admit that without help, I would not be able to make such impact on them and I would definitely haven’t been given the position. Being selected out of 200 applicants is a huge achievement and it only proves the importance of such preparation.
It seems that I have already ran out of words, so let’s conclude. There definitely is more to write, more to reflect on and more to discuss. Nonetheless, one fact remains: What doesn’t challenge you, will not change you. I can definitely say that every single workshop has been an incredible challenge and changed me so much that I would not recognize myself, if I met myself 9 months ago.
I’d like to thank to all tutors and career advisors that lead me through the learning curve and I am looking forward to meeting you at next workshops in the future.
All the best,