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Internships and other work experiences
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3 Building my self-awareness

As well as building skills that will be valued by employers throughout your future career, work experience can help you to build your self-awareness.

Tasha Eurich (2018, p. 3) defines self-awareness as ‘the ability to see ourselves clearly – to understand who we are, how others see us, and how we fit into the world around us’.

You can use work experience to enhance your self-awareness in the following ways:

  • asking for feedback from colleagues and managers
  • keeping a journal to actively reflect on what went well and what you found more challenging each day
  • taking advantage of any psychometric tests that might be available through your employer
  • making a note of the goals you have when you start the work experience, and monitoring progress towards them.

Building self-awareness is key to a successful career in so many ways. For example, the greater your self-awareness:

  • the easier it will be to identify roles that suit your skills and values when they arise
  • the better you will be at learning from the work experiences you have – unpicking what went well and what didn’t and understanding your role in that
  • the more clearly you will be able to describe yourself in future job applications
  • the more effective you will be as a colleague and as a leader (remember self-awareness plays a key role in emotional intelligence).

Enhancing your self-awareness takes time and effort. The next section will look at ‘seven pillars of insight’ that should help you to more easily understand the concept.