My experience on the SPRINT programme
On the surface, I do not seem to struggle with confidence. For example, in lectures, I sit in the front row. I ask and answer questions, unabashed of sounding stupid. Additionally, on long train journeys, I introduce myself to wherever I sat next to and converse with them. I spent plenty of time volunteering and take up opportunities as they come. Therefore, when my personal tutor suggested that I should consider the SPRINT programme to help build up my confidence, I was baffled.
SPRINT is a 4-day course that focuses on o building up various skills in female undergraduates and postgraduates. The skills include confidence, assertiveness, planning goals and networking. As part of the programme, each day, inspiring women gave a talk about their journey and struggle. The programme ends with a group project after a couple of months after the first 4-days and with an opportunity of accessing a mentor who can help with pursuing goals.
I saw SPRINT advertised on the large screen in the Piazza. Initially, I dismissed it. I did not see University as a place where I learn to become a fully rounded person as the SPRINT course was promoting. However, after talking to my personal tutor, I started to realise that developing as a person and academic success could be entwined. For instance, I struggled with writing essays. In theory, I know how to write an essay and what to include, but in practise, I get flustered and end up losing confidence in my abilities. As a result, my essay marks were inconsistent. If I could write a coherent essay once, it means I could probably do it again and I probably had the abilities required to do so. I just needed to believe that I could.
Therefore, I signed up to SPRINT and took part almost a year ago. I definitely would agree that it has helped me in many ways.
Foremost, I learned that I can say no without being apologetic. Especially before the SPRINT, I tended to end up in uncomfortable situations. For instance, going out late in the evening (I like sleep and hate the dark.) Instead of saying no, I would come up with many feeble excused to get out of situations, but ultimately end up doing something I did not want to. However, since the SPRINT, I find it easier to let down others and say no. I can offer an excuse if I want to, but I do not have to. I owe nobody anything; only myself, so if I am not comfortable, no is enough. Also, I do not have to be apologetic about declining something. This is still a skill that I am working on. However, I have managed to adopt it in some areas of my life. For instance, my second year felt especially liberating, as I spent more time doing what I wanted to. If I did not want to go out because I would rather catch up with sleep, as harsh as that sounds, I started to be frank and just say so. When my mental health was bad, I would decline offers to hang out with friends and tell them straight that I needed to spend the day alone or in bed. Initially, I was worried I would lose friends. However, no one has ever got annoyed at me for saying no. Moreover, some of my friends have noticed the increase in my assertiveness and have made positive comments.
Additionally, the SPRINT encouraged me to set goals and then break it down into how I was going to do it. It also discussed what might get in the way and how to tackle it. This time last year, one of my goals was to do a URSS is Psychology which is a research project during the summer. It is something that I am currently doing. However, a year ago, I was very reluctant to even apply. The URSS seemed to be very intense and required a lot of effort and a lot of moving outside of my comfort zone. At the time, I did not feel confident enough to do it. Sending emails to my lecturers seemed daunting, so finding a supervisor seemed impossible. I was convinced that I would fail miserably in any attempt to collect data and the fear of failing made me hesitant to apply. However, despite my many anxieties around applying, I knew it was something I wanted to do. I enjoyed the aspects of researching within my course, and I wanted to continue researching
Taking part in the SPRINT was a good idea for me, and I have definitely learned many lessons. It is definitely worth considering it if you are a female undergraduate struggling with confidence or assertiveness, networking and making decisions. To find out more about the SPRINT programme: https://warwick.ac.uk/services/skills/personal/sprint/under_graduate/ To find out more about the URSS: https://warwick.ac.uk/services/skills/urss/