According to The Telegraph newspaper amongst the top ten skills that will ensure success in finding employment when you graduate is commercial awareness or business acumen. Both of which are rated at number 1. âTurns out you don’t need to win The Apprentice to forge a career in the City, for 85 per cent of graduates, a business degree did just as well, or better, in the case of some of Lord Sugar’s winners.â ( Telegraph,2013).
After having been employed in the business sector as a Sales Trainer for many years, a personal regret was always the lack of any academic prowess. Therefore, at a mature age of 56 a BA (Hons) Business degree was decided upon, and the academic path was entered.
This purpose of this report therefore is to reflect upon my personal academic pathway to date, and by the use of support from a range of academic materials and sources, identify areas in which further development is needed. Consideration will be given to a specific career path and job role, taking into consideration personal learning style and personality traits and the ramifications of such. Finally, a Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic target (SMART) action plan focusing on continued personal and professional development will be evaluated.
2.0 Skills needed as a graduate today
According to recent research by leading UK recruitment agencies (Target Jobs 2015), the world around us is changing rapidly. Old ways of doing business will not be the ways of the future. There is no âone size fits allâ set of skills that students can develop to understand differences in culture. They need to commit themselves to an ongoing process of personal and professional development that, over time, give them the higher order business communication skills so much in demand in this new global world ( Beamer & Varner 2008). Development of such skills personally was vitally important, and a BA (Hons) Degree provided an excellent vehicle in order to both build upon existing, and discover new relevant skills to transfer to the workplace. Universities increasingly emphasise the importance of making graduates âworkplace readyâ, and promote independent learning, particularly as studentâs progress through their studies Choy et al., explain (2008).
3.0 The chosen career path and why
In a psychological review (Abraham Maslow 1954) it was identified that incentives were a contributory factor in motivation. A human basic need is to feel respected, including the need for self esteem and respect. People often engage in a profession or hobby to gain recognition. These activities give the person a sense of contribution or value. People with low self-esteem need respect from others; may even feel the need to seek fame or glory. Psychological imbalances such as depression can hinder the person from obtaining a higher level of self-esteem or self-respect. (Maslow 1969). As a personal long sufferer of Bi Polar Disorder as explained by Phillips et al (2013), the esteem tier in the Hierarchy triangle is personally identified. Having always been considered an under achiever due to episodes of mania which hindered progress in both personal life and career, a BA (Hons) became the ultimate goal, and a strategy for continuing personal academic and professional self-development to achieve was implemented.
The underlying concept of motivation has been identified as a driving force within individuals by which they attempt to achieve some goal in order to satisfy some need or expectation. (Kast and Rosenzweig 1985) As the third year of the BA degree is underway, and the realisation that success and graduation is indeed possible, new career paths and options have opened up. As an experienced Sales Trainer, the prospect of transferring the skills already held into an academic world is appealing. My future goal is to become a Business Studies lecturer within a college for 16-18 year old students, studying at A or BTEC level. (App 1)
4.0 Consideration of Personal Aspirations
âWherever you are today is the result of your knowledge and attitude. If you wish to be in a different place in the future, then you must continue to learn more and continue to develop a positive mental attitude.â (Dobbins & Petman 1997) If I am to be successful in my chosen future career choice as a Lecturer, I must ensure that I hold the necessary skills.
4.1 Learning styles and personality traits discovered
From completion of psychological tests such as Honey and Mumford (2000) (App 2) and Myers Briggs (App 3), both questionnaires having been designed to indicate psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions, it was established that I am Kinesthetic, an activist and extroverted. As per Flemings’ Visual, Auditory, Reading and Kinasthetic model (Vark 2014) I find myself under a category of people, according to Pashler et al (2008) who have a predominant style, thought to be discovery learners: with realisation through doing, rather than thinking before initiating action. This is vital to understand if post graduate study success is to be achieved enabling me to pursue a career as a lecturer. If the personality traits uncovered were totally different form the skills required as a lecturer, I would be forced to give serious re consideration to my aspirations. âThe understanding of type can make your perceptions clearer, your judgments sounder, and your life closer to your heartâs desire.â (Briggs Myers 1980)
A recently completed self perception inventory designed by Belbin ( 1981) (app 4) which, although primarily to investigate why management teams win or fail, identified an interesting facet of my personality as that of Resource Investigator. The Resource Investigator gives a team a rush of enthusiasm at the start of the project by vigorously pursuing contacts and opportunities, according to Fisher et al (1996) He or she is focused outside the team, and has a finger firmly on the pulse of the outside world.
4.2.1 The weakness of the Investigator
Resource investigators are characterised as good negotiators who probe others for information and support, picking up otherâs ideas and developing them. Sociability and enthusiasm are high on their agenda. However, as a resource investigator, my expected and allowed weaknesses are a tendency to lose interest after initial fascination with an idea, and not usually the source of original ideas. This could be a disaster as a lecturer.
5.0 Desired Skills as a Lecturer
By researching relevant roles, I can focus on skills needed, and can highlight key areas in which I need to be proficient before applying for any job in academia.
5.1 The âEâ Factors
Much of a lecturer’s work involves public speaking in front of audiences ranging from two or three people in small tutorials through to possibly several hundred people in a lecture theatre. As a student I have been subject on too many occasiosn of being taught by lecturers who do not have such skills, and their lectures are static and boring. Brighouse and Woods (1999, p. 84), inspired by Handy (1990) wrote about the concept of âpersonal E factors. Handy explains that the âEâ factors, such as energy, excitement, enthusiasm and effervescence are traits that are held by all â” but sadly not released by everyone. A good lecturer, if they are to inspire their students, need to not only display their E factors, but demonstrate a passion for their subject with which their students can engage, be challenged, and learn.
5.1.1 Do I have the E Factor?
A personal Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis (App5) clearly indicate that I possess such skills. In my career to date as a Sales Trainer I have had to write and also deliver training programs whilst motivating a sales team. My extroverted personality embraces public speaking and I would be confident in transferring these skills over to a situation within academia.
5.2 Inter-personal communication skills
Communication skills are listed as one of the top ten employability skills. (Target Jobs 2015) This covers verbal and written communication, and listening. It’s about being clear, concise and focused; being able to tailor your message for the audience and listening to the views of others. A lecturer’s job would require regular communication with students on a one-to-one basis. Whilst we live in experiential times, with abundant use of technology, many students prefer to meet face to face, especially to discuss problems with their work or personal life. Empathy skills are also therefore essential, being able to put students at ease.
5.2.1 My communication skills
Having been a Sales Training Manager for most of my working career to date, I have developed excellent communication skills both written and verbal. I feel that I would have, as a lecturer, the ability to motivate and inspire students to reach their potential and exceed expectations.
5.3 Time Management
Juggling classroom time, preparation time, administration work and research all needs careful time consideration. As identified in my personal SWOT, this skill set is my weak area and needs developing in order to achieve my goal. As a kinaesthetic activist I am amongst the group that have a more difficult time demonstrating what they know as we do not have the internal pictures of neatness and organization in our minds (Ross, 2001).
6.0 Threats and opportunities
The most obvious threat (SWOT) to my plan is age. To become a Lecturer means another year of post grad study whilst qualifying for a Certificate in Education (PGCE), suggesting that I will be seeking employment in a new career at the age of 59. Although default retirement age (formerly 65) has been phased out and most people can now work for as long as they want to, it may be a challenge persuading an academic organisation to employ me. However, in a recent article it was established that workers over 55 bring great qualities to the employment market. Experience, stability and loyalty (Giang,2013) state that by 2020, approximately 25% of the workforce will be age 55 or older.
It would appear that the very fact deemed to be a threat may even be an opportunity for me. âOlder workers tend to be more interested in stability where a recent graduate might be most concerned about moving up the corporate ladder as quickly as possible,” (Ritter 2015)
7.0 How Am I going to achieve?
According to Garavalia & Gredler (2002) âstudents who set effective goals, utilise appropriate learning strategies, and evaluate the requirements of learning tasks adequately tend to achieve at higher levelsâ. Personal Success at degree level is dependent upon passing each module. Self-regulated learning is a process that involves setting goals, implementing strategies to achieve goals, monitoring performance towards reaching goals, and, finally, an evaluation of the task according to Butler & Winne (1995). Therefore a full SMART action plan (App 6) will be utilised in order to achieve success.
The purpose of this report was to explore my career aspirations, evaluate my skills and determine whether or not the chosen role would be a suitable one. After researching the desired skills of a lecturer, I determined that it is a plausible choice, and this has motivated me in my desire to succeed. Application for a PGCE has now become the next logical step and the continued study at a high level in year three to obtain an honours grade as detailed in the personal action plan.
1. ‘The five skills your CV must have for success’ (CV Template Master) <https://www.cvtemplatemaster.com/careers-advice/five-skills-cv-success/> accessed 1 March 2016
2. ‘What are the top 10 skills that’ll get you a job when you graduate?’ (Target Jobs) <https://targetjobs.co.uk/careers-advice/career-planning/273051-the-top-10-skills-thatll-get-you-a-job-when-you-graduate> accessed 1 March 2016
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