Well that didn’t go to Plan…

By chance I picked up a book over the summer titled ‘Black Box Thinking’ by Matthew Syed (currently on buy 1 get 1 half price at Waterstones). Black Box Thinking gave me some new perspectives and ways of reflecting when things go wrong, how to ask why they went wrong and what can be improved on. Most importantly thou it helped emphasise why it’s important to admit that things went wrong in the first place. By freely admitting what went wrong you are able to start the process of finding out why, and crucially, reduce the chances of it happening in the future.

Events over the past week have already provided me with a good cause to exercise these.

Let’s set the stage. Last week was fresher’s week at Anglia Ruskin and on Friday it was the fresher’s fair. As a committee member of the ARU Fashion Society I was part of the team that planned the society’s materials for the fresher’s fair and the organisation of the taster event.

What happened?

At the fair:

  • We ran out of leaflets within 3 hours,
  • We ran out of signup sheets and resorted to the back of the sheets,
  • Our signup sheets were too cramped which meant that the writing was cramped, thus difficult to type up after,
  • Few people signed up as members (OK, this one is fair enough. At the fair it’s important to interest people in the society and convince them to attend the taster event),

I also didn’t get a chance to look around and collect free pens to last me throughout the year (minor gripe).

A Lot of things did go right however, we generated interest in the society and had 143 names on our mailing list. We met new people who are interested in fashion and connected with some of the other ARU societies and are looking forward to cooperating on future events.

At the taster event, the catwalk and dance performance we hosted did go as planned and we were able to recruit volunteers from the fair to take part, however there were only a handful of attendees.

At the taster event there were two main points we identified that could have been improved on:

  1. Don’t have the taster event on a Saturday. Next time we’ll conduct our own market research for the ideal time for the taster event rather than relying on second hand information.
  2. Introduce a presentation between the dance performance and catwalk. Of the handful of attendees all left within half an hour of arriving as we had the show reoccurring while waiting for more to arrive before we started the presentation. For those who had arrived at the start the wait was too long, and had we started the presentation earlier we could have informed them about the society before they decided to leave.

Despite this setup we are still committed to delivering activities and events throughout the year, moral may be dented by the lack of attendees and few signups for membership, but we still have time to recover.

Watch out for my next post where I’ll be linking the activities from fresher’s to the employability skills from my previous post.

The Summer and Personal Development

During the first semester of university one of the modules taken was ‘Academic Skills’, and part of the assignment was to submit a Personal Development Plan (PDP).

Over the summer I expanded on the original document I submitted, and updated as a number of short term goals & objectives had been completed during the second semester. While expanding I decided to include my past employment and development, including my employment history and courses that I had taken prior to starting university.

I found that while writing about my past employment experiences, which included my roles, tasks and projects that I had taken part in, I was able to better identify my skills and knowledge. Thinking back also allowed me to identify areas of improvement.

Seeking to continue my personal development over the summer I was fortunate in that I had an excellent opportunity, and found (or, I should say, it found me) a summer job that enabled me practice old, and rusty, skills, and learn some new ones.

I was also able to keep up on my reading and, finally, got around to reading Capital in the Twenty First Century by Thomas Piketty, along with a number of books on technological developments, geography and politics (geopolitics), and tax (keep an eye out for a future post on this last one).

Going forward from here I plan on completing the Employability Program at Anglia Ruskin, writing about the ten key skills will be made easier thanks to my work on my PDP. I recommended having a look at the employability program to everyone, at the very least it helps you think about your experience and areas where you can improve.

The key skills are:

  • Self-Management,
  • Teamwork
  • Business and Commercial Awareness,
  • Problem Solving,
  • Communication and Literacy,
  • Application of IT,
  • Numeracy,
  • Project Management,
  • Languages and Cultural Sensitivity,
  • Social Responsibility,

As treasurer in the Fashion society this year is looking to be a busy one. As this will be the first full year of the society’s existence we’ve a full range of event ideas that are being implemented. Part of this involved building my awareness of the fashion industry (see key skills above, I’m able to link this is business and commercial awareness) and I am fortunate to be working with a veteran of the fashion world, who is also the president of the Fashion society.

In martial arts it can be said that you’re always training, from practicing your breathing to your movement (carrying a tray full of drinks, I found, has a way of focusing your mind to keep the tray balanced as you move). I applied this over the summer and took the opportunities to expand not only my skill set but also knowledge.

All C&C’s are welcome.

Why a blog?

Welcome to my blog! So why a blog you ask?

I first decided to start a blog for several reasons, in part to encourage me to write, but also for me to voice my thoughts. Hopefully I’ll also improve my writing technique and research skills along the way.

As this is first and foremost a personal blog, my posts will be related to what interests me, although I will try and avoid posting anything related to politics. Posts will usually fall into one of three categories:

  • Martial arts related,
  • Student related,
  • Career related,

That last one could be considered a contradiction, as career = professional which is the opposite of personal, however with social media and the potential of private comments affecting your career there is room for overlap in the opposite direction.

My goal is to post at least one entry a month, and where possible I’ll build up a bank to ensure that I’m able to publish during busy periods.

So please, stick around and all comments you feel to make are welcome.