Thursday, 24 July 2014

Skillstep: Week 9

I have now finished the initial 9 weeks of the Skillstep course! This marks the end of the vocational and IT work which is now all completed, in chronological order, signed off and ready to be marked for accreditation in my portfolio.

Week 9 has been a very intense few days; with 2 presentations and a mock interview to tackle!

The week began with the final session with Maureen from Trafford College. After ensuring all of our work sheets were completed, learning logs were filled in and the objectives of the course were met - it was time to present our individual presentations based on our future goals, research and preparation undertaken to achieve the goals and the barriers that we may face. After each presentation was given to the group, constructive feedback was given by Maureen and the rest of the Skillstep group as to how it could be improved.

My future goal was based on my fundraising project that I am currently in the process of completing for the Henshaws Bright for Sight campaign in October. I explained my project in detail, the preparation and research I had undertaken in the form of a questionnaire which I used earlier this year with friends, family and fellow Henshaws service users, the marketing tools I will use and the predominant barriers that I have faced and may still face in the coming months. As I have given a few speeches in the past, my technique is rather perfected and I was calm and confident in my approach to the presentation itself.

I used quite a few props and was the only member of the group to do so, which I feel helped when presenting my goal as I then had a visual item to refer to - most of which were tactile, and included a Braille leaflet I had made. My presentation was 2 minutes longer than it should have been, as we had a 10 minute limit, and I was cut off half-way through as Maureen thought my 10 minutes were up - but aside from that, it went quite well.

On Wednesday, it was time for mock interviews with Andrew Rose - a member of the Board of Trustees for Henshaws, who has vast knowledge and experience of conducting interviews and recruiting employees. Unlike the day before, I was rather nervous in regards to the interview - as I have never done an interview before and, even though I had prepared for a range of questions, didn't know how it was going to turn out. My interview was for the role of a children's illustrator, one I hope to be able to do in the future, and I brought my portfolio and CV along incase they were needed, and I received extra points for doing so! My interview went fantastically well, so much so that Andrew told me that it was the best of the day (my slot was near the end) and he had no feedback to give in order for me to improve. I was so thrilled that it turned out well and I want to say a big thank you to Andrew for donating his time to us Skillsteppers!

On the final day of the week, during Linda and Neil's session, it was time to present the PowerPoint presentations that we worked on during the previous week. In the morning, we had some extra time to finish our work and we then practiced our presentations before lunch. After dinner, we presented the PowerPoint presentations properly to members of the Fundraising & Marketing team and it was recorded by Neil to be produced into a CD for future groups to refer to and for the Big Lottery Fund to view. It was great to hear everyone else's experiences during the course and it made me really nostalgic for the start of Skillstep - but also happy to realise how the course has changed me and how I now have a new network of friends that I will definitely keep in touch with!

During the next fortnight, the group and I will be doing our individual work placements. Mine will be at Guide Dogs, which is something I was enthusiastic about and chose right at the start of the course. I have been signed up for a Guide Dog for nearly 11 months and am due to start my harness training very soon, so my placement will be extremely beneficial to me. I have found out that I will be doing things such as puppy training and grooming - so am very excited indeed to get started!

You can find out more about Skillstep by clicking here and can register your interest to the course via e-mail.