The WSPA Experience
Hello and welcome back to my blog! In this post I am going to introduce you to one of Warwick’s workshop schemes: ‘The Warwick Skills Portfolio Award’ (WSPA), which is a project based on workshops held by trained professors on different skills such as time management, assertiveness, becoming a group leader, working in a team, delivering effective presentations, effective learning strategies and academic study skills. All the details about this scheme you can find on this link: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/services/skills/awards/wspa. I am happy to say that I have finished this award and therefore, I have waited until now so I could finally share with you my thoughts about this amazing opportunity while studying at Warwick.
We all know how important it is to have an outstanding CV and work experience before actually applying for a job and that is why any extracurricular activities are required and extremely sought. The first step after attending the WSPA Getting Started workshop is setting up a myportfolio account on Mahara: http://mahara.warwick.ac.uk. You have to write all your reflective entries there, before submitting them on Moodle for grading. After that, you just have to attend 3 workshops of your choice and make some spare time for them as each of them last for three hours straight. Do not worry about the time frame, you will learn plenty and use that time effectively during each of these workshops. All in all, you will write 11 entries and two-three more if your mentor asks you to. I chose: ‘Organising yourself and your time’, ‘Becoming more assertive’ and ‘Leading a Group Project’. I will share with you here my final WSPA entry, as I believe it sums up perfectly my whole WSPA experience and also because I put a lot of effort into writing it and reflecting on each of these skills I hope I have acquired.
FINAL ENTRY WSPA
By Elena Andra Sandu
I truly believe that the WSPA is definitely an extraordinary opportunity in terms of academic skills and personal development, during which you can identify your strengths and weaknesses, think about the importance of action planning and reflection in relation to personal skills development. I think all the workshops enhanced my awareness related to choosing my personal development goals. In any career that you wish to pursue, skills just like the WSPA scheme has to offer are indispensable. After attending this workshop, I realised how difficult it can be to start organising your time, becoming more assertive or becoming a leader. These are the main skills I wanted to explore and gain and as I am writing my final WSPA entry I realised that I did learn and developed all of these skills along the way. The reason why I chose to enter writing these entries is because of the importance of developing current skills and why not trying to focus on building up new ones.
Firstly, for my “Time Management” workshop the trickiest part about my action points was managing a clear schedule throughout the week and using my spare time, such as travel and waiting time effectively. It took quite some time to ‘write down’, in my case write in the mobile app all the tasks I need to get done that week in particular. During that week, I found out that my biggest problem was procrastination. I believe procrastination is just like a bad habit, you try to end it and, unfortunately, you keep pushing things you need to do to tomorrow, to next week, and ultimately to never. Another thing that went utterly wrong setting alarms 15 minutes before each task/seminar/lecture, as I kept forgetting to actually set them, I kept postponing them as some other more important tasks came up and eventually I would end up having to reschedule them for the next day, or the day after tomorrow. The things I will carry on doing following this workshop, my action points and my progress in the first week, include organizing my laptop and keeping everything I need to do on my Desktop, as it is the first thing you see on your screen, sorting assignments and downloading music for offline use as well, during travelling time and waiting time, setting alarms efficiently and stop procrastinating.
Secondly, for my “Becoming more Assertive” workshop the part that went extremely well with my assertiveness action points was being able to not feel guilty after declining offers that I could not take, or feel bad about expressing my own opinion and feelings and asking for what I want. I would always keep a hesitant approval-seeking speech and be incredibly fearful of upsetting others, therefore, I always would attempt to soften the impact of people’s comments through permission seeking and rambling statements, broken speech patterns, without any rhythm or flow, I would always put the preferences of others first and overpower self-criticism, I would use self-deprecation and avoid eye contact. It made a huge impact on my life when I decided to become assertive: I began to take responsibility for my actions and views, state opinions and interpretations as such, seek alternative views, use constructive feedback, invite suggestions, solutions, use appropriate volume while speaking, I began speaking fluently, with no hesitations while maintain eye contact and using open body language. The things I will carry on doing is all related to the assertive traits, setting my own priorities, managing my time effectively, being able to take risks and ownership of my feelings, asking people for feedback and opinion, being respectful, make people feel valued by seeking and considering their ideas as well, keeping a gentle and inviting eye contact.
Thirdly, for my Becoming a Group Leader workshop I came up with the easiest action points out of all three of the workshops, as I implemented them quite easily and I found them enjoyable and engaging. Being a leader has changed my views entirely, especially as skills I took upon learning from the time management workshop and the assertivity workshop blend perfectly into becoming the best leader any group can have. Some things I will carry out doing as a leader is encouraging creativity, making others feel appreciated and satisfied with everything we decide together, delegating tasks, being enthusiastic, confident, thinking analytically, being aware of all problems and tasks, being decisive, empathic, optimistic and focused.
I would recommend anyone who has some spare time and interest toward learning something useful for their future careers to attend these free workshops. I consider I have made a huge improvement in my life by taking these classes and trying to reflect on my action points after implementing them. It has made me realize how much time I have wasted before and how essential using your time effectively is. I have realized how being passive only make you seem weak, sentimental, hesitant and selfless when you can take responsibility for your actions and views, opinions, giving feedback, speaking fluently and making eye contact instead. I had no idea what an impact being assertive can make in your daily activities and conversations and how being able to listen, be honest, communicative, approachable, committed, creative and inspiring are all necessary traits any good leader should have depending on which type of leader you are and what suits you best.