3 What learning experiences have I had?
Most people would agree that work experience is very important when considering future career directions, but it’s easy to take yourself for granted and not recognise the wide range of capabilities that you have developed throughout your life. For example, what hobbies do you have or have you had in the past? Not everyone can turn their hobby into a career – although a growing number of people are doing just that – but the activities you do in your spare time could help you to demonstrate capabilities that can be useful in the workplace.
Skills in verbal and written communication, numeracy, information technology, time management and fluency in a foreign language are all examples of skills (and you can probably think of many more) that can be developed through leisure activities or formal and informal study and then used in the workplace. These are usually called ‘transferable skills’ and are often acquired through experience. You don’t necessarily need to have a formal qualification, just some evidence to demonstrate that you have them.
You will have learned a huge amount through your work (paid or unpaid), leisure and study experiences by noticing how you feel about different tasks, or how well you perform particular activities compared to other people. You may also have learned from others, either through formal appraisal and assessment or from informal comments and reactions.
The next activity helps you to focus on your work and non-work experience, and will be useful when writing a CV and preparing for interviews.
- List the jobs you’ve had, with dates. If you have limited or no experience of paid employment, make a similar list of unpaid or voluntary experience; for example, helping readers at school, delivering ‘Meals on Wheels’, fund-raising for a charity or involvement in a conservation project. You can also use formal or informal study experiences and hobbies in this activity.
- For each job, note how it came about. Did you volunteer or were you directed into it? If you had some choice, what factors seemed important in deciding to take it up?
- For each job, note the range of tasks or what you had to do.
- Did you have to deal with any difficulties?
- Which tasks or activities did you find most and least appealing, enjoyable, or rewarding? Why?
- What did you (and others) view as your strengths and weaknesses?
- What were your particular achievements and successes?
- What did you view as failures, or things that you could have done better?
- How did you get on with the other people?
- What was your style of working?
- Were you known for particular things?
- What were you most proud of?
Look back at what you’ve written. Can you see particular patterns of strengths or weaknesses? Do you enjoy some things more than others? Do others turn to you for help with particular things? Can you identify particular capabilities? Do you recognise any specific skills, knowledge, personal characteristics and attitudes? Note down anything that you think is particularly important.
You've now completed Section 3 - well done! We hope that you have found your study useful and are motivated to carry on with the course. Remember, if you pass the quiz at the end of each block you will be able to download a badge as evidence of your learning and you can download a statement of participation that recognises your completion of the whole course.