This will be my final post, in regards to the Leicester Leadership Award in which I am taking part. Therefore, I think that this would be a good time to look back to the start of my first semester at University, thinking about why I chose to take part in this Award and how it has benefited me.
Areas for Development
- Speaking with Confidence: From reading my previous blog posts, you would have noticed a common theme since I completed my Skills Audit. This theme regards confident oral communication, which is something I identified as a weakness right from the start, as I knew that I had previously been quite nervous when talking in front of a large number of people. Therefore, despite my journey through this award, which I will explore shortly, I still feel that I need to continue using this skill in lecture shout-outs, in SSC Meetings and in Seminars.
My Learning Journey
- I chose to take part in this Award because I believed it would help to develop me personally, in terms of my Employability Skills; making me more appealing to prospective employers. I also thought that it would be good, as it gives me something to show as proof for my hard-work and my development. I also hoped that it would help me to improve with reflection and development, teaching me to identify weaknesses and create future targets from these.
- I feel that I have achieved everything that I hoped…and even more!! I never knew how useful this Award would be, and I feel that I would be more confident now in identifying my skills and presenting these to employers, and I even have lots of examples to support this
- Speaking with Confidence: Since identifying this weakness, I tried to practice this skill as much as possible. I did this successfully, but a bit nervously, in a lecture shout-out, where I told all English students who their Course Reps were. I also used this skill in my degree, where I gave a presentation in front of my class. Although less daunting, I was still a bit nervous, but I presented confidently and my tutor gave me positive feedback on my skills. This is also a skill which I will implement in the next few days in my Final Presentation for the Award.
- The Award has helped to shape my career plans and I would now like to work in Banking, and probably not in Teaching, as I originally thought. I have been shown a wide variety of careers and how the skills I develop are so transferable. I feel that I could use the good Communication skills I have developed while working in a bank, speaking with people on a daily basis.
- This has given me a much better focus for the future and it will help with my personal development and my degree. I will keep Speaking with Confidence, as there is always something to improve and…I can only keep getting better.
After networking and speaking with a worker from the banking company Santander, I realised that a career in Banking would be very suitable and enjoyable for me. It is a career I have considered previously, although I was worried that it would require a lot of knowledge of Accounting and mathematical processes. However, I found out that there are a large variety of posts open within a banking company.
What skills do I currently possess?
- Oral/Written Communication: I feel in terms of communicating with people face-to-face, I am very effective and confident when doing this. I think that I am very good with forming relationships and bonds with strangers; helping them and myself to feel comfortable. An example of this is when I approached the worker outside a branch of Santander, and I began to ask him questions about a possible career at the company. He gave me some very useful information and he actually emailed me with some additional links to internships with the company. Furthermore, as I’m studying Spanish alongside English, I am also developing my language skills, which would be particularly useful with this company, as it has links across the world in places like México, Spain and South America.
- Decision Making & Confidence Building: I feel that I have worked very well as a leader, not just in my role as a Course Rep, but also in the work with my degree. For example, in a group-work project for English, I acquired the leadership role within the group. When my group were a bit quiet in meetings, I made an input and I also ensured that at the end of every meeting we had targets for the following week. These deadlines have helped us to complete our project on time and to a high standard. Furthermore, I delegated roles within the group to make sure the work was divided evenly, and that each section played to each member’s respective strengths.
What skills do I aim to develop? And how?
- Numeracy/Budgeting: Although a career in banking will not require as many numeracy skills as I expected, I will still have to be able to work with percentages and figures. Therefore, I need to ensure that I practice my numeracy skills, which I do constantly when I budget for my finances at University, with my shopping, loans and grants. This helps me to balance my incoming funds with my outgoings, ensuring that I am not losing money. These skills would certainly be useful if I was to pursue this career.
- Oral/Written Communication: Despite improving greatly in this area and being skilled with one-to-one conversations, I still feel that I need to improve with my skills when it comes to speaking with large crowds or when doing a presentation. In my degree, I am able to practice the latter and I did a presentation recently in Spanish, which went quite well, although I was quite nervous. I also spoke out at the most recent SSC Meeting with confidence. I will need to keep practicing and improving my presentation skills, which will be particularly useful for my final presentation for the Leadership Award.
There were not any major issues to report to the convener prior to the meeting, so I did not email any points I wanted to raise. Therefore I went to the meeting with quite an open mind, and I simply waited to see what was brought up and if any points were necessary to raise.
The first point on which I commented was when the Library representative stated that the Library had some additional funds, especially in terms of English books, if any extra primary or secondary sources were required. I then thought, as I am also representing the students on the BA Spanish & English degree, that I had a valid point to raise. Thinking back to my own experiences, I asked whether or not it is the responsibility of the English Library Rep to ensure that the translated versions of Spanish texts are available. I was told that it is up to the Modern Languages Library Rep to do this.
Secondly, in terms of the Library Bookshop, when asked if there were any additional matters arising, I chose to use this moment to bring up a previous issue. I reminded the committee that I previously asked if the Bookshop would consider changing the Loyalty Scheme, so that students could use their £5 vouchers for discounts off of books, and not simply for use with stationary and clothing (which are somewhat less necessary).
For the first point, if in the future I am struggling to find some Spanish books in translation, or if another student tells me this, then I will have to contact the Library Rep for the Department of Modern Languages, so that additional books can be ordered (as I was also told that they have excess funds for doing such things.)
The Chair kindly said that she would forward my point to the Bookshop representative, who was not present at the meeting, in order to find out if my point has been taken forward, and if so, where it is in terms of its progress. I will therefore have to wait until the next meeting to find out about this, where the representative should also be present, so I could then ask her directly.
I feel that, even though I didn’t prepare any issues to bring up, I still made a good contribution to the Meeting. I think that I made relevant points in regards to the issues which were raised and from these I received some good answers. I spoke confidently and without too much hesitation in front of the other committee members and representatives.
Compared to my first SSC Meeting a few months ago, I was much more open and confident at this one, which shows that I have improved in regards to my speaking abilities and also with the way I think, by linking arising matters with information which has been relayed to me or experience by me, in order to gain useful answers and solutions to problems.
We were informed of this committee earlier on in the first semester, saying that it was a good meeting to attend in relation to our work as a Course Rep. Therefore, when we were told about the particular time slots available for the meeting, I checked in my diary and picked the appropriate time to attend.
The first which took place in the committee was for all of us to write down a success, a setback and a target in relation to ourselves and the SSC Meetings.
My success, as mentioned previously, was in regards to the suggestion I made about the Bibliography Tutorial in a previous module. With this, I contacted the convenor prior to the meeting, saying that I wanted to raise the issue, and then in the meeting I discussed it. As a result of this, changes were made which allowed students to see where they went wrong, in order to improve next time.
The one setback I noted down was in reference to a suggestion I made in one of the earlier SSC Meetings. After talking to lots of students from different courses, I reported to the Library representative that a lot of people felt that the Library Loyalty Scheme should allow students to spend their £5 accumulated discount on Books. The representative did look into this issue but I haven’t heard anything back as of yet. Therefore, I will bring it up at the next SSC Meeting.
Finally, my target, which was similar to many others, as well as being one of the focuses in the ‘Setbacks’ from other students, was to get people more involved. As mentioned before, this seems to be one of the most difficult challenges; to engage and interest our fellow students in making their course better.
As of yet, I have not taken any actions in relation to the ED Advisory Committee, but I will keep trying to make myself and the other Course Reps known to our fellow students. I will also try to use different methods, such as lecture shout-outs, varying social networking websites and emails to communicate with the largest spread of students as possible.
I feel that I participated quite well in the meeting, as I was able to think of some important and relevant examples to write on the post-it notes. I probably could have spoken a little bit more, as I was rather quiet, which may have something to do with being a bit more confident with people I’m not familiar with.
Overall, the Committee was successful as it allowed us to talk cross-departmentally about our varying degrees, and without the presence of teaching staff. This meant that we could gather a wide variety of views and that we were able to speak more freely than in SSC Meetings.
At an SSC Meeting last semester, the Chair of the Committee mentioned that the Periodic Review would be taking place in 2012. We were asked by the Head of School to contact him if we would like to be part of the Review, which takes place every five years. Therefore, I immediately emailed the Head of School, highlighting my interest, and I was told that I was selected as an Undergraduate representative and I would receive more information in the new year.
The aim of the Review was to find out, from a range of different students from different years and different varieties of the English course, where the School is succeeding and where it could be improved. Therefore, it was more of a gauge of our individual opinions. Nevertheless, as a Course Representative, I had certainly taken on board the views of many students from the English department.
I felt quite nervous whilst waiting to enter the Council Chamber for the Review, and I was still rather nervous when I sat down in front of the panel. However, the undergraduates were asked the first question, which meant I could give an answer; allowing me to speak and to calm my nerves. From thereon in, I was more relaxed, and where necessary, I was able to give an answer to the panel.
I haven’t taken any further actions following the Review. I will have to wait for the Report to be issued, and see if any of my suggestions have been taken on board and may possibly be implemented by the department. The Review will probably arise in discussions at the next SSC Meeting on 15th March.
I believe that I participated well in the Periodic Review. I was chosen to take part in it as I was seen as a sensible student who understands how the SSC works, has been in contact with various students on the course and who now has the perspective of a Joint Honours student, as well as a Single Honours student.
I overcame my nervousness successfully, thinking back to the workshop I did last semester, which meant I was able to talk loudly, clearly and also with some gesticulation to put across my points even more effectively. At the end of the discussion, we were asked to add any additional points, and I ensured that that I mentioned one of the major issues I have come across as a Course Rep. It is one which I have previously mentioned in my Blog.
In the Review, we established that emails are only useful to an extent, because students receive so many that some go ignored and unread. This lead on to my point in asking if the School could in any way help the Course Reps to get other students more interested in the department and the SSC and also to help us to engage with them more successfully, in order to gather more opinions.
My fellow students seemed to agree with my point and the panel also seemed to take it on board. I will simply have to wait to see if any changes are going to be made as a result of the Review and if there are any changes, then they will be mentioned at the SSC and the students in the department will be informed.
I was aware from the start of the Award that there was going to be a Lunch held with the Vice-Chancellor, so I simply waited to be contacted regarding this. When I received the email, I had the choice of two dates to attend, and I could only make the Lunch on the 8th December, so I planned to go to that one. I was told that I would have to arrive promptly, as it would be a popular event.
I arrived early to the ARC Training Room, signed in and took a seat prior to the talk with the Vice-Chancellor. It was a very big turnout and the room filled up very quickly, so it was good preparation to arrive early. The lunch essentially consisted of a Q&A session with the Vice-Chancellor and the Pro Vice-Chancellor. I didn’t actually ask any questions myself but I observed the questions being put forward by other people, regarding things like studying abroad and the ERASMUS scheme and also another issue which often came up, which was the number of contact hours people were receiving.
At the end of the lunch, the Vice-Chancellor gave out his email address to everyone so that we could email him if we needed to. I chose to email him to thank him for the great opportunity to be able to ask him questions. I thought it was so good that we had such an accessible Vice-Chancellor. I had an issue which cropped up briefly at the lunch, which involved my prospect of changing my degree course, and I asked if he could offer any help regarding this. I was very pleased that he replied to my email and helped to point in me in the right direction.
I clearly didn’t really participate much at this lunch, so when I’m faced with similar situations in the future it may be a good idea to be more Confident and to speak up and share my views and ask questions. This would help to improve my Oral Communication skills, especially as I would have to be speak quite formally to the Vice-Chancellor, because even though he is very accessible, he is still in a more hierarchical position compared to me, so I would treat him with respect and adjust my language to address him.
Nevertheless, I didn’t feel that there were any issues which urgently needed raising at the session, as no important problems had cropped up at our SSC Meetings. I even emailed the Chair of the SSC beforehand, asking if there were any things that needed to go higher, or if I should ask others about any issues. But the main focus was to put forward things that I felt were important, because no students had made us aware of any major issues.
It would also be a good idea in the future to feed back the information from this event to the SSC (which we may do at our forthcoming meeting) and to subsequently feed this back to the students on the course. This may link in quite well with the ‘Sort it Out’ campaign, which I believe collected similar results, especially in terms of contact hours. Completing the Feedback Loop is my main aim this semester, and even though it is very difficult to be able to reach all of the people on my course, I will try my best to do it.