MODULE 2: Developing your employability

MODULE 2: Developing your employability

“New experiences and their challenges … Building your employability through global experiences … Learning from reflecting on experiences … The SEAL process of self-reflection … Identifying skills and attributes from doing SEAL”
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Summaries

  • MODULE 2: Developing your employability > 1: New experiences and their challenges > Identifying new experiences and their challenges
  • MODULE 2: Developing your employability > 1: New experiences and their challenges > Insights into identifying new experiences and their challenges
  • MODULE 2: Developing your employability > 2: Building your employability through global experiences > Building your employability through global experiences
  • MODULE 2: Developing your employability > 2: Building your employability through global experiences > Studying abroad: A unique set of challenges
  • MODULE 2: Developing your employability > 2: Building your employability through global experiences > Insights into the value of global experiences
  • MODULE 2: Developing your employability > 4. The SEAL process of self-reflection > Students talk through SEAL
  • MODULE 2: Developing your employability > 5: Identifying skills and attributes from doing SEAL > Identifying skills and attributes: Brenton
  • MODULE 2: Developing your employability > 5: Identifying skills and attributes from doing SEAL > Explore further: Translating learning

MODULE 2: Developing your employability > 1: New experiences and their challenges > Identifying new experiences and their challenges

  • REA Have you heard the saying: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?” We’ve all had experiences where you can’t see the forest for the trees, and you can’t see what good could come of a difficult situation.
  • Later on, it’s easier to see what you’ve learned and even how that experience has helped you handle other situations.
  • Going through challenges, learning from these experiences and becoming a stronger person because of these, is how we improve and develop.
  • Learning is about transformation and transformation only comes when you experience something new or encounter a challenging situation.
  • Experience is what provides you with the opportunity to develop all the qualities needed to do a job.
  • You can use new experiences and challenges to add to your development, by enhancing a skill you already have or developing a new one.
  • This is obviously going to be tricky as there are a number of steps to go through in order to be issued with a new passport.
  • New challenges and experiences don’t need to be huge or dramatic in order to provide opportunities for development.
  • This is particularly the case for university students, who are often using non-workplace experiences to develop personally and professionally.
  • The experience may also increase your confidence, not just with public speaking, but in general.
  • Finally, if you found the situation challenging but you managed to successfully work your way through it, then you are likely to have drawn on skills that you may not have realised you even had, or developed entirely new ones.
  • Now let’s hear from some UQ students and graduates talking about their new experiences and the challenges that they have faced.
  • I was involved in a startup programme which was responsible for-well it was called the ‘Student Relations Team’ and it’s responsible for speaking to every new student that comes to university.
  • So we call over ten thousand students every year and we follow up with those students throughout the semester and following their first semester.
  • So the problem and the challenge that we face with that was it was a brand new startup, so we had never done it before.
  • I was in the position as a supervisor within the group of all these brand new employees to somehow work through these constant problems that we will be experiencing.
  • They generally be minor, they’d be numerous and we really just-took a while to iron out all the crinkles, in terms of starting up a new project-as any project would have.
  • On the surface, you may recognise that an experience helped you grow in some way but identifying exactly WHERE the growth happened-by thinking about the challenges and totally new experiences-is the first step in identifying the learning.
  • What new challenges have you had lately that have made you stronger or have helped you to grow?

MODULE 2: Developing your employability > 1: New experiences and their challenges > Insights into identifying new experiences and their challenges

  • CHARISSA Well, some of the challenges I faced when participating on these extra activities whilst in uni was the first thing was really that-I was a foreign student in UQ, so in all the activities I participated in, I really didn’t know anyone.
  • I just went in, kind of, independently and had to be a little bit more out there, a little bit more open to just meeting new people in order to just get the job done.
  • KAHLIA I worked on a research project here at UQ. I looked at people smuggling and how Australia and Indonesia deal with that particular problem and the kinds of things that they’re doing about it.
  • The biggest challenge I think was being able to translate that research for an international audience.
  • There were quite a few diplomatic challenges in terms of the political relationship between Australia and Indonesia.
  • Quite a few of the people attending the conference, English wasn’t their first language.
  • What I did there was I spoke to people who lived in rural environments about general hygiene and health care and nutrition, because I was doing a Bachelor of Health Sciences degree at that time, and my major was nutrition.

MODULE 2: Developing your employability > 2: Building your employability through global experiences > Building your employability through global experiences

  • For most people, travelling and studying abroad IS a new and challenging experience and provides multiple opportunities for personal and professional development.
  • There are very few experiences that provide such a rich opportunity for you to develop the personal attributes that employers value as travelling does.
  • You are opening yourself up to new experiences and new ways of thinking about and doing things.
  • When you go for a job as a graduate, employers look at your experiences to make judgements on your potential to perform in a role.
  • The trick is for you to be able to recognise from your travelling experiences what you have learned.
  • NICK I think studying abroad is not only a fantastic opportunity for students but also an incredible bonus as far as making yourself more employable.
  • I think the simple act of upping sticks and moving to a different country, studying in a higher education culture which is potentially very different from that which we’re used to and so on communicates to an employer that you are self-starting, you’re self-motivated, and that you are able to cope with complexity and change.
  • I think employers are increasingly looking for people that can demonstrate that they’re able to work with people from different cultures, work in different contexts, to experience and to learn from those types of contexts and different cultures and so on.
  • Therefore studying abroad or an experience of studying abroad really does, as long as it’s reflected upon, and therefore puts you on a position to communicate that learning, then it is hugely important.
  • MICHAEL I think it’s going into the unknown to a certain extent, and I think the contemporary job market is all about unknowns, and risks, and risk management, and the need for adaptability, so I think those skills would definitely be enhanced through that.
  • I think there’s a lot of skills, and they’re just not codified skills.
  • I think, in terms of giving a graduate that confidence when they go to an employer and say, “Look, I studied in the UK for a year.
  • I think there’s definite skills to be gained from that.
  • REA Gaining global experience is the one single thing you can do that almost GUARANTEES the development of a range of skills and attributes employers value.
  • If you want to take that experience and use it to develop your employability you need to recognise what you learned from it.

MODULE 2: Developing your employability > 2: Building your employability through global experiences > Studying abroad: A unique set of challenges

  • You don’t realise how important language is, even just going to the grocery store, catching a bus, meeting new people, going out for drinks and socialising.
  • I definitely, in the beginning, found it really difficult to communicate and to express myself.
  • It was really daunting because Bogotá, the city that I was living in, is a lot bigger than the cities that we have here in Australia.
  • As with all exchange, it’s always a challenge to live in a foreign city.
  • It took a couple of weeks really to find my feet in Prague because when you go outside, no one really speaks English.
  • Czech, you can’t really even-if you speak English, you can’t guess from a sign what it’s saying.
  • I remember a few times hopping on the wrong tram to get home, not being able to pronounce my suburb where I live, so I couldn’t even tell people when I was lost where I had to get to.
  • ISABELLA I have gotten so much out of this exchange.
  • There has been so many times I’ve been faced with a challenge, and I’ve had to look at it and go, “How am I going to overcome this challenge?” Finding accommodation, constantly having to call people, e-mail people, follow up with people.
  • “Can I come look at this apartment? Please, can I come look at this apartment? Do you have time today? What about tomorrow?” After calling everyone, I had about-I visited probably about 10 apartments.
  • Okay, which ones do I like, price wise, people wise? After I met this man who helped me get this apartment, I knew it was perfect.
  • I had to ask the people next to me, “Can I please have some notes? Can I please have your notes? If I give you my e-mail, will you send me all the notes you took today?” Everything is-you’ve just got to find out everything itself.
  • You’ve got to talk to people, ask around, e-mail, call.
  • CLAUDIA When I was on exchange, I was definitely struggling with-it was a challenge for me to figure out where I belonged in the local ecosystem, because there aren’t a lot of foreigners who do exchange in the engineering school that I went to.
  • I was in a classroom with 10 other people taking the same major as me, not very many.
  • Having that rapport with your classmates, and now my colleagues, is really really important.

MODULE 2: Developing your employability > 2: Building your employability through global experiences > Insights into the value of global experiences

  • NINA I think the value of studying globally is boundless.
  • I think it really is an experience that has so many mini-experiences within it that can contribute to an overall great opportunity.
  • I think the biggest part about studying globally is being able to think back to your time at UQ, where you’re going with your degree, and critically reflect on how these new experiences that you’re getting overseas can make you into a more employable person, and someone who can really take on new experiences and challenges with optimistic and great attitude as well.
  • I think it’s also a great space where you have more time open to you-you may not be working when you’re overseas-to really do recreational activities, get out of your comfort zone, and try something new, and meet new people that you wouldn’t be able to meet at home.
  • That’s number one: a really great networking opportunity to meet people who are from different industries overseas, learn from new academics and people who have different passions and interests to your own, and discover new things that you might want to continue on with your career or through further study that can enhance you as an individual and as an academic.
  • When I make the move, when I started to study overseas, wasn’t honestly thinking too far away.
  • I was looking forward to then, but I wasn’t thinking too much about actually staying overseas to work or even build the career or a life over there.
  • After I came to University of Queensland Australia, started my life as a student but still a life here, I do feel the change is a gradual change.
  • I really finding, I think I’m living a different life.
  • When I started or when I made a decision to come here to study overseas because I do like Western culture, and I think I fit it.
  • I do think I did go out to mingle with the locals and also people from the other place of the world.

MODULE 2: Developing your employability > 4. The SEAL process of self-reflection > Students talk through SEAL

  • Yes, so I think the nerves sort of hit you, and then you start running through your head, “Have I done everything right? Am I going to cover everything?” Yes, it’s a little bit daunting.
  • REA When you were actually giving the presentation, how did those nerves affect you for the actual presentation? Were you okay once you got out there? EMMA One of my majors is drama, so I have experience like on the stage and acting in front of people.
  • You’re thinking about the impact that that challenge or new situation had on you and then what action you took to try to help that situation or try to mitigate the nerves or the challenges – so what did you do then to help with those nerves? EMMA Well, originally, before I went into the auditorium, I was given the notes by the coordinator of what she would like me to say, and I just went through them and really read over them, made sure that I knew the content that I was supposed to deliver.
  • So even though that was just giving a presentation, it was still a really great learning experience.
  • Can you talk a little bit about your overall learning from it, and how you’ll take that learning forward into other activities that you’ll be doing? EMMA Definitely one of the best thing that I took out of that experience was that I did have to volunteer for that presentation, so I had to put my hand up and say, “Yes, it’s scary, but I’m going to give it a go.” I definitely think that has given me the confidence to put my hand up for other things.
  • REA What about your confidence building? From that experience and other ones you’ve had, can you feel your confidence building? Can you feel yourself thinking about things that you did previously and how the learning from that has added to other learning as you kind of move forward with that development? EMMA Yes, definitely.
  • I think, just in general having this – having the experience itself, it just sort of puts you in this position where you realise that you sort of can do anything.
  • REA Did you think you using the SEAL process to reflect on an experience is really valuable in terms of being able to draw out to what you’ve learned from it? Because sometimes students say to us, “Well, I haven’t really thought about that very much.” Do you think that really helps to actually think about it? EMMA Yes, definitely.
  • I remember everyday sitting in the office and writing things down, things like: what did – like what challenges did I face today? What did I do to overcome them? How do I – how did I feel about the challenge? How did I feel once I had overcome the challenge? Yes, so I definitely think – yes, it’s really good.
  • I had to write a report when I came back about what I had learnt and I – actually one of the question was what sort of skills do you think that you’ve developed that employers are looking for.
  • I definitely think that the SEAL process helped me a lot to answer that question, because it really gets you thinking, “Oh, well, how can I use this experience and communicate my experience and all of my transferable skills to an employer from this experience?” I definitely think it’s very valuable.

MODULE 2: Developing your employability > 5: Identifying skills and attributes from doing SEAL > Identifying skills and attributes: Brenton

  • BRENTON Considering the specific skills and attributes that I would have gained well, in fact I’ll give my law firm example, where they’re looking for a paralegal and that’s someone who needs to have skills in the area of administration and to be able to manage the solicitors’ diaries or deal with appointments and that kind of thing.
  • If I can demonstrate to them by having effectively maintained a high level of involvement and being involved in various things, then I can show them that I can handle the requirements of that job.
  • That is an easy example of where my employability is enhanced by being involved in various things, maintaining jobs and that sort of thing.
  • Of course it requires problem solving and a level of analysis when you’re looking at your own situation or you needed to say, “Well, this is too much,” or, “This is too little,” or, “How can I manage or change these things around?” I mean, that’s analysis, and then you’ve got to solve the problem of, “Okay, well, maybe this can shift to another day.” I would say it also requires a level of independence.
  • I mean, you can always seek help and advice for these things, but at the end of the day if it’s you managing several part-time jobs and other things, then the only person that can really help you is yourself.
  • It’s up to you to make those decisions that most people can give you advice on those things or say, “Well, no, you need to quit this.” You’re really going to be the only person in the position to actually make that decision at the end of the day.
  • I used to play AFL for-or Australian-rules football for 10 years while I was growing up and through high school, but I decided that when I came to university I need a little bit more time for other things, and so I decided to take a back step and just sort of re-evaluate what I could do to still be involved in it but to have a bit more time on my plate, so I decided that I’d be an umpire.
  • It’s given me a few things that I really didn’t expect that I could have like the confidence, the assertiveness.
  • It’s been a really great activity and certainly a flexible one that really does fit around the study because it’s maybe one training a week plus games on the weekend where and when you can do it.
  • Another thing I was able to develop through my AFL umpiring was my ability to think under pressure and make a decision making under stress.
  • I think that’s another really great thing that AFL umpiring and that sport has been able to give to me.
  • You rely on the other umpires to make decisions on things you may have missed and you accordingly call things that they might have missed.

MODULE 2: Developing your employability > 5: Identifying skills and attributes from doing SEAL > Explore further: Translating learning

  • LEN Translation, I think, is a useful way of putting it.
  • It doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve had a formal leadership role, but they way in which they’ve been able to influence others, the way in which they’ve been able to take the team or the group in a particular direction that they believe to be important and which they’ve been able to persuade others to go on to.
  • So it’s the way in which they can do that kind of translation.
  • It’s other areas like problem solving, problem analysis, decision making-every student will have been involved in decision making in some form or other- and it’s to think about ways in which they can translate, they can say, “Here’s an example of where I’ve done it in this situation, this is the way I might be able to do it in a work situation,” in professional managerial work situations they are likely to find themselves.

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