Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Skills workshops - what to expect

Crina Maria Pricop, Cohort 2020

SELA skills workshops are highly interactive, designed to involve all the cohort in the learning process through different activities, covering topics from working out which role would suit us, to perfecting our leadership skills and harnessing social media in our job search.

Each workshop introduces a new concept, and spurs us on to investigate further on our own, demonstrating and encouraging real methods. Hands-on skills are taught where we have a chance to try out new approaches and fail in a safe situation.The following is what I have experienced so far, including what is expected from all the SELA skills workshops throughout the year.

Feedback

Gaining feedback is a significant step in the learning process, as there is always room for improvement. After an activity, we always receive feedback from the facilitator, including genuine constructive criticism which improves our development. The facilitator will let us know ways to improve professionally and personally, depending on the workshop’s topic. We also work in breakout rooms, where we can help each other during activities. We are frequently invited to give feedback to one another, allowing us to learn together and from each other. I am learning so much from others, as I recognise that some of my weaknesses are the strengths of others. For example, during the developing and pitching a business case workshop, we split into groups to produce a business case and then pitch it. Afterwards, we received feedback from both the facilitator and other groups too, on what we did well and what could be improved.

New ways of thinking


Nobody shares the same world view, and one person’s interpretation of a situation or experience could be drastically different from mine. Fellow students may offer a stunningly unique perspective on my ideas compared to what I see. Perhaps they see my concept of representing a project canvas as delivering a business case. A project canvas is a visual tool that improves project teams’ communication and provides a simplified project overview. It is essential to look at and reflect on topics from multiple perspectives in order to see the entire picture; it allows us to discover the core source of a problem and find a solution that brings everybody’s desires and emotions into consideration. In the goals setting and reflection workshop, we have been shown some of these models of reflection. I would never have imagined seeing reflection in such ways before this workshop.

Networking

Finding someone with the same passions as me is always a treat, and workshops such as SELA networking is a great route to doing this. The networking is valuable as it helps me to develop and improve my skill set, stay on top of the newest developments in the industry, keep a pulse on the job market, meet prospective mentors, and gain access to the necessary resources that will foster my career development. It is about building professional networks that I can leverage now and in the future. We split into groups for our projects, which allows me to develop contacts with not only people in the industry, but also guest speakers and mentors. It is much easier to work with somebody that you have created a connection with, allowing you to trust them and making it easier to ask for help when needed.

New Skills

Workshops present themes and concepts or the development of a skill related to a topic. The workshops involve more hands-on learning than a typical class, however they also include discussion, interaction, presentation and debate on a given topic. For instance, the project and workload management workshop made me use a project control document I’ve never experimented with before. A career compass session introduced me to new roles that I could consider in my career based on my skills. It also links in with the various viewpoints to a certain degree, as others might have more knowledge on the skill or subject in question.

Motivation to work

When I have an audience, I am more driven to complete my work. Being part of a workshop is right for giving such motivation as it’s a promise somebody else will see my work. For instance, when I had to produce a business case based on a given scenario, even though I found it hard to write, the fact that afterward others would view it gave me the motivation to focus and together with the group that I was in, create the business case. Also, with additional content provided each time, it's even more incentive to get involved.

New opportunities

It can be challenging to get myself out there without any help, but workshops allow me to gain exposure by introducing new ways I can showcase myself. For instance, a workshop guest speaker may know of a company looking for new intern engineers. My fellow attendees may also have opportunities to share with the group, making it especially worthwhile to bond with others. For example, during the public engagement workshop, the CEO & Co-founder of GUTS (Get Up to Speed with STEM) gave us a presentation. Finding it interesting, the cohort decided to get involved with GUTS for our first-year project.

Having fun

The most important thing is that workshops are intended for growth and enjoyment; when I am happy, my productivity and creativity increase. A brighter mood means better ideas, this was experienced during the career management and securing placements workshop, where we completed activities on the jam board using colourful sticky notes. have a valuable time attending the workshops as they push me outside of my comfort zone. Another fun activity was when students who just finished their year in industry presented posters as it made me realise what opportunities are ahead of me.

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