I started a little something extra today at Durham Uni. One of the things they now offer for postgraduates is the ‘Durham Award’ which is a programme aimed at helping you improve your employability and be able to better articulate the value of your masters to potential employers. I was thrilled to get offered a place on the programme and gave a thin-air high five (I’m doing a lot of those lately aren’t I) at the prospect of this little something extra to put on my CV and the potential to help me get a better job in the future.
On the way home I stopped at the Metro Centre to satisfy the mahOOsive craving I had for Wagamamas’ yasai yaki soba but got a takeaway and sat in the car eating it like a right lonely soul. Well, Gordon was out for a night ride with a representative from Whyte bikes so it was either eat alone in the car or eat alone in the house (yasai yaki soba won this round). As I was scooping up noodles with my chopsticks an image flashed through my head of a brightly coloured A4 spiral-bound book in which I’d stapled worksheets and scribbled down notes and then suddenly I realised – I’ve done all of this before with the OU!
When I was at the OUSA Conference earlier this year I had picked up one of pretty much everything I saw lying about on the stalls and one of those things was this career planning and job seeking workbook. I started filling it in almost as soon as I got back and was amazed at how thorough it is. It starts off with an activity where you draw a timeline of your life identifying the highs and lows and when you’ve made big decisions etc and this was a revelation for me because it was so interesting to see a common thread between things which were highs and those which were lows (my highs involved education and voluntary work and my lows involved money and confidence issues).
'Knowing what your own strengths are and knowing how to articulate them is vital for people on the hunt for a job'
I haven’t actually finished filling in the workbook yet, I shamefully admit that I’d forgotten about it until now (it’s broken down into six sections so I must’ve reached the end of a section, sat it down then forgotten to pick it up again) so I’ll be spending a bit of time going through the rest of it now. It even includes a section about equality and diversity issues which is great considering within the OU student cohort you’ve undoubtedly got issues such as age, disability and people with criminal records, amongst others.
I was really chuffed when I realised that this programme I’m doing with Durham Uni is pretty much the same as I’ve done with the OU independently. The booklet is available as a download and is only a couple of clicks away from StudentHome but you can ask for a hard copy from your regional office too. The booklet is very thorough and I can vouch from personal experience that the OU Careers Advisory Service is fantabulous. It’s such a shame though that because of the nature of OU study they can’t offer the same sort of ‘award’ for carrying out this process as Durham Uni do because I think it’s a very valuable skillset to develop.
Knowing what your own strengths are and knowing how to articulate them is vital for people on the hunt for a job and with OU study being so highly thought of amongst employers it would be excellent to be able to really sell yourself with it.
By July next year I will have attended all three workshops, sat in a panel interview for which I have to prepare a presentation (about myself I think) and will have submitted my reflective portfolio (ace, I already did one of those for T122!) and should receive a nice shiny smurtificate for my record of achievement.
Hey, I just realised, learning how to articulate the value of my master’s degree is, in itself a transferrable skill because I can use that skill to articulate the value of my OU degree too! See, everything is linked in one way or another.