Thursday, 17 August 2017

Three reasons why I joined SELA

Germayne Williams-Sylvester, SELA Cohort 2017

Since starting my first year at the University of Sheffield, I’ve tried my best to look beyond my course, Material Science and Engineering, to broaden my horizons and get as involved as possible with any opportunies that became available to me. First year is where you set the foundations, and build the habits that will follow you into your subsequent years; it is not to be squandered. How you set yourself up, and the environment you put yourself into, have a huge influence on what you can and cannot achieve in future years.

I’ve become entangled with the dancing societies, learning dances such as salsa, bachata and kizomba at every opportunity. I’ve become the chief projectionist for the Film Unit society, and, towards the end of the year, I was ecstatic to find that I had been accepted into SELA. With my enrollment on this programme, I feel as though I have fully achieved what I set out to do this year. SELA has the potential to boost my university experience in an extraordinary way, and here I’ll outline the 3 things I hope to get out of my journey with the programme.

1. An amazing impact on my career prospects

During the SELA programme I will participate in seminars, workshops, projects and a Bootcamp, amongst other things. All of these events and activities are designed to help me develop invaluable skills that I can utilise both in, and around, my degree. Workshops and projects to force me to expand upon the topics I’ve learnt, and apply them to different context; all while teetering along the boundaries of my knowledge, and problem solving capabilities. The seminars, guest talks, and Bootcamp will provide me with the insight to grasp ideas, and understand their potential, disadvantages, and future implications in a manner I have yet to achieve. Should I be able to surpass those boundaries, and refine the lens I use to survey my surroundings, then that leaves me in a prime position to reach any goals I set myself during and after university.

And let’s not forget the alumni of previous SELA cohorts, as well as the staff of SELA, who all have industry experience. They represent another source of knowledge from which I can grow and learn from. I may even be exposed to fresh opportunities by them – network connections are a very strong thing indeed.

2. The opportunity to meet like minded people

You’d think it would be easy to find like-minded within the University of Sheffield. But the diversity of interests, and variety of opportunities and activities make it difficult to find any one group with shared values and interests. SELA as an organisation has values that they both look for and wish to instill in their members. Values I would very much like to embody myself. And so I would hope that on my journey with SELA my interactions with the other members of my cohort, and the staff there will leave me with a sense of community. The head of the organistion is a very interactive and inclusive person, and I feel those traits reverberate throughout the programme. The people I meet through SELA could become my lifelong friends, or future business partners. And that’s the benefit of being surrounded by likeminded people: It allows you to transcend what you can do individually, and create more than you could ever manage on your own.

3. The push for self-development

I won’t forget myself here. While I understand importance of nurturing my career prospects, and appreciate the ability people have to create amazing things together, there’s more to progression than just that.

What about my character or persona would make me a better leader? Academic prowess and critical thinking are by no means the only things conducive to a strong, functional team. You need a person who creates the kind of environment where people believe they have the ability to challenge the status quo and create whatever they want, and can create that just with their everyday interactions. Or the person who can raise everyone’s morale after a devastating setback. Being with SELA will aid me in taking responsibility for my own growth as a person – and ideally, set the foundation for me to become an incredible leader.

I have yet to delve into the programme, and so we’ll have to wait to see whether all these wishes come to fruition. These are the 3 things I hope the acquire over my next two years with the Sheffield Engineering Leaderships Academy. Hopefully I’ll have an update for you in the future!

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