Socially anxious me was encouraged to be very social this week, as we had meet ups for the interns on the Disability Equality Internship Programme, and we also said “bye for now” to our Access to Elected Office interns David and Ryan at the local pub. Working with the interns on our projects has been my favourite aspect of this job. Of course, as a former intern myself I feel that the interns are the future! Being one enabled me to make the jump into the kind of work I had wanted to be doing for some time. I have been able to use my skills and various experience to help others. That was never truer than when I recently decided to deliver a workshop on job application skills as part of the meetup events.
When I was out of work I went to many interviews. I think 14 is about when I lost count, about 5 months in. After needing to take my unexpected career change after university I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do, so I was applying for anything and everything. Across the various industries there were commonalities. I’m sure that every interview I went to had the following questions:
- Give me an example of a time when you worked well in a team?
- Tell me about a situation where you managed your time effectively?
- Tell me about a time where you managed conflicting priorities?
Being able to predict the questions doesn’t mean I ever had good answers prepared, mind you. I always felt a bit like I was winging it. When your confidence is low it can be hard to recognise your own achievements and skills, and really convince people that they should hire you. Then one day I was given the advice of my employment adviser on the Work Choice programme, when she said I needed a structure to my interview answers. STAR. It was that simple! Situation, Task, Action, Result. Following through this structure helps you answer the question in a way that makes sense, stays on point and shows that you understand the value of what you did. It was possible to prepare a few examples, and bring them with me to interview. I thought back to all my endless tangents and pointless information and cringed. If only someone had told me sooner!
Well, I decided to base our employability workshop around this approach. Some of you had already heard of it and were far more skilled at using it than I am. It was impressive to hear all about the experiences people had gained from their internships, and hear them put in the way your next employer might hear them at interview.
Organising events was a new one for me, but something I’ll feel a bit more confident about doing in future. I learned a lot through the process, mostly that I am capable of doing it and shouldn’t worry too much. In hindsight, doing them Monday in Glasgow and Tuesday in Edinburgh back to back wasn’t exactly the cleverest idea I’d ever had. I like to reflect on things before repeating them and time didn’t really allow… See there’s my answer to the “tell us about a time where you would have done things differently?” question! This week I will be building on what I learned from the meet ups by going on SCVO’s “Train the Trainer for Beginners” training. I’m looking forward to understanding a bit more about what goes into designing a training course and the things you need to think about when delivering one.
Last week we also congratulated David and Ryan for their outstanding work on the Access to Elected Office project. They have been working tirelessly to produce reports on the accessibility of their own political parties, and have been feeding information back to our research worker Laura who will produce a cross party report. Its very exciting work. We had an Inclusion Scotland send off for David on Friday, as he was working in our office with us since December. Its bittersweet seeing the interns move on, but I’m sure they will use the experiences they’ve gained to move on to bigger and better things.