Being the Best You: Self Improvement Modelling

This was my final workshop on CareerCake that I required to complete my Cardiff Met Award, although I know it will not be my last video on there as I have found the resources to be very useful for my career planning and skills.

This video covered the core components of being Unstoppable and how to find your flow, it also talks about how being in flow can bring out the best in you.

Firstly what does being unstoppable mean to me and what would be possible if I was unstoppable?

In terms of my work right now, I feel like unstoppable would be getting the right designs right the first time, having ideas constantly to flow off of this and continuing to develop without hitting bumps or moments where I lose the motivation. I always write myself to-do lists in the mindset that I would be working almost constantly throughout the day, setting aside hour by hour timetables of what I would like to get done. I feel like this is helpful because I know what I need to do, but I do not feel too down heartened when I do not achieve it all, because sometimes I may set aside an hour for a pattern, then complete more and more and spend more time, but I am still accomplishing things. I think if I was unstoppable then all the things that I would want to get done would be done how I planned them, no matter what I write down in what order, it always differs because I prefer certain things over others, or it depends on what equipment I still have set up and easy to access.

She also discussed about how what if questions can stop us from making a change, I feel like that relates a lot in my work too, when it gets to the end point and there are a lot of little points in the feedback that would improve my work drastically, I am often too scared to start over and do something better which is something I have definitely worked on now. I would think ‘What if it looks worse than the first design?’ ‘What if they do not look any better after all that work?’, and instead of drawing some new motifs to make better, colourful patterns, I would just make the current patterns more busy, or change them to a slightly different colour on photoshop. It was only this year on my module that I decided to really go for it for the improvements, and letting go of the detailed designs I had done that were just not working and opting for something more simple was definitely something I enjoyed doing in the end because it allowed me to have more fun with the deigns and the process of it.

She spoke about being in the flow and how flow writing where you literally just continously write about something and every little thought that pops into your head is written down until something good comes out. I would consider this something I would be good at, I am going to try and do this on paper and I have done this in the past with essays, then editing them down or changing words to suit the style of writing. I find I can get in the flow with writing as well as other activities in my work, and when she mentioned the environment, it does have a big impact on being able to be in the flow.

Currently, I am on a table in my dining room at my parent’s house, it is a very open house so I can hear the tv in the living room metres away and all the conversations. I think my best time of day is the afternoon where everyone else is outside and busy in the sunlight, I can just be alone on the table and get things done over the course of a couple of hours. In terms of flowing over days or longer, I am finding this hard here because it is not a massive table, ideally in my own house I have different workstations set up for my sewing machine, my drawing and painting, my laptop, and when I have to constantly move things and squish things in here I find it to be something that I put off then. So I could spend a few days on the laptop and not do anything else, which could be good for when I am creating patterns but could be a problem if I need to also be getting other things done.

I think I take my flow skills for granted, this was a question that was posed. I can get a lot done when I get into this flow, especially with writing or drawing. I think this could be transferred also to my work ethic when I have a job, I do work hard when I have a job but thinking back there could be ways that I could streamline some activities and get more of an uninterrupted flow going.

Overall this workshop was helpful in the idea of the flow and how this is a recognisable skill, I thought this was interesting and makes a step towards being unstoppable. If I can figure out how best to get into my flow, I think I could work even more effectively to get more and more done each day and stop procrastinating certain things that I try to avoid.

Hidden Job Market

For my fourth workshop, I went back to CareerCake and found another video by the founder, Aimee Bateman, that discussed the hidden job market. She spoke about how generally people check job boards for their employment opportunities when realistically this is often the last place an employer would advertise the job after first looking internally or in their own networks to fill the vacancy. I think this applies to my industry a lot, being creative your artwork and portfolio can speak for itself and getting yourself out there with connections can be very beneficial.

The personal branding workshop was touched on a bit too, and there was also a career planning course that was mentioned that I may look into. I think being in my third year in Uni now it is getting more and more realistic that I need to be getting a good job that I want to keep for a few years and I suppose being completely out of education is still surreal to me.

Aimee mentioned how networking events are important, I attended one of these last year in Uni, and made some contacts and actually took part in a course in the museum where I consulted about a new photography exhibition. This was a very useful contact as when I then started my new module and wanted to photograph insects, I was able to reach out to her, and she put me in touch with the entomology department and I was able to come in and look around all the research stored insects and photograph them. I was also asked to do a blog post which did fall off my radar but I may reach out again to see if this is still something useful to them.

I think networking is important in art too because we all individually have a range of talents, so while I study surface pattern design, I can also photograph well and studied that at a-level, I can also draw and paint so can do commissions, and you never know what someone might want or who they may know if they can see some of your other work.

From this workshop I learnt that I definitely need to update my LinkedIn and post on it more often, posting my work would help me to get noticed and remembered rather than my fairly blank profile. I think doing a little workshop on this too might be a good idea so I know how to use this effectively, as I do find I am a little apprehensive about it because I do not have the experience that I do with other social networks.

I thought the idea of a video CV is very interesting, I am not sure that I have the confidence to do something like that but maybe that could be a goal to work up to. I never knew about recruitment agents either, and how to use them to your advantage. Information interviews could be interesting to help me understand different roles more as I do not know too much about how a surface pattern designer would work in a large company.

This video taught me the importance of being present and reaching out instead of waiting for something on job pages, and the best methods to do this and be remembered. Overall I found this interesting and I think this is definitely something useful I could put to work on my social networks.

Personal Branding Workshop

Due to the coronavirus and how life has changed lately because of this, I was not able to attend my last three workshops while in University. I took part in a few workshops in Birmingham in September and then did a CV workshop not long after before falling ill for a few months. It was definitely a challenge to work from home with my usual work but the fact that we could now take some workshops online by watching these CareerCake videos was actually very useful for me as I was not fully recovered and back in Uni as it was.

CareerCake is a great resource for employability and building skills with CVs, social media presence, and a range of other skills that could be very useful for the job hunt and how I present myself online. This was the first video I had watched by Aimee Bateman, who I gathered from the video was the creator of CareerCake and features in a lot of shorter clips too that I will be definitely be checking out for the little tips that could help out massively.

The workshop began with the question: What is your personal brand? What three words would you use to describe yourself as a person?

I thought about this a lot, as a surface pattern designer I would definitely say a key word for me is creative, I also thought about jobs that I have done or how I have moved through school and University, and I have always been hard-working. I also thought about the moments where I have felt for people, or helped people, whether it’s family, friends or strangers, and I think I am compassionate.

The idea of the course is to understand what personal branding is and why it helps in your career path, create a strong and unique brand statement and learn about how to leverage social media.

Something that I picked up on that I thought was interesting was the difference between a strength and a skill, which I suppose before I did consider to be the same thing. Aimee described a skill as something you are good at, and a strength is something that you really enjoy and feel passionate about. I think an example of me is that printmaking is a skill for me, I can do it well when I do it, but I do not enjoy it and I try to avoid it if there is another way to do something. I really enjoy stitching and construction, I am good at these and I enjoy it, so I think I really try again and again to improve it and produce pieces I am proud of, so I would consider this a strength.

A part of the workshop was to ask others what three words they would use to describe you, I asked my boyfriend, my friends I live with in Uni, and my friends from school who study at different unis to me now. My boyfriend said ‘Kind, Loyal, Honest’, which was lovely to hear. My Uni friends said ‘hard-working, ambitious, creative’, ‘imaginative, insightful, warm-hearted’ and ‘thoughtful, artistic, understanding’. Again these were nice things to hear, I consider the people that I asked to be honest enough with me that they would tell me something negative if I was asking for the feedback, it was interesting that the closest to my words are from my friend Elin, who lives with me and also studies the same course as me in our creative field.

It was pointed out that we possibly see qualities that we shared and values that we share with the people we choose to trust with these kinds of questions, this is not something I would openly post on my social media pages and it makes sense that I spoke to the people I did, as I see qualities in them that do match my own.

An important question is why do I do it? Why do I do what I do?

I really enjoy it, I love being creative and watching something turn from a blank canvas, page or space and becoming something to be proud of. There was always an expectation of me throughout school because I got good grades, that I was going to be something that my parents considered important, but I have never felt passionate about anything in school like I did for art, textiles and photography. I took all three at A level with ICT, and did not drop one for my second year because I really did enjoy them all for the different reasons. My work now tends to combine all four of those subjects. I also do it because I want to be independent and own my own business.

The values lesson was interesting, the first question posed was what are your top five pet hates in relationships? I thought about this and one thing that affects how I feel towards a person in any level of relationship is disrespect, in terms of work I think unprofessionalism can get annoying very quickly while at first maybe seeming like you could have an easier time with a relaxed boss but ultimately there needs to be a level of professionalism there. I also think dishonesty is hard to deal with, you need to know that your friends and the closest people to you will be honest, even if you will not always like it.

The next question was what situations make you feel annoyed or angry? I think mostly for me I find issue with personal space, I do find myself getting very annoyed if my workspace is disturbed in particular.

The next part covered what kind of employer would I want to work for? I have never really thought about this before beyond the field that I may want to work in, but thinking about it I think I would like someone who is passionate about the work, someone who wants constant improvement and is open to suggestions about this, the worst thing is seeing an obvious problem in the way things are running and no one bothered enough to fix it. I also think professionalism is important but also flexibility, having anxiety I am very nervous that an employer would not understand if I was having a bad day, ideally I would love an employer who would trust me to work from home sometimes if this helped me, as long as I was still getting the work done. I believe too that if I was in a job that I really enjoyed, I would take the work home with me, I have never just kept my school or Uni work confined to the campus, I have always spent nights and weekends working on things.

The next section covered the personal brand statement, which is 1-2 sentences covering what I am best at, who I serve, how i do it uniquely and why I do it. This is something I do not want to rush at all, I want to think about this as my branding continues to develop and come up with something good for this.

The social media lesson was probably the most insightful, the key points touched on the importance of privacy on the internet, by googling yourself you can see what an employer might see when they google you too. It is important to lock down Facebook, it is not a good platform for networking so does not need to be open or available for everyone to see. My Facebook is rarely used anyway, I mostly use it to keep in touch with my friends and watch cute dog videos. I think a little to-do list with my social media is needed, including updating my LinkedIn and posting more content, restarting my twitter, again sometimes I rarely use so there is not really much point having anything on it as it has nothing to do with me or my work. My youtube has a little bit of my work content that I uploaded to my blog here, as I have to show my work on here for Uni and you cannot upload videos directly I had to create a Youtube account to show these. Maybe I could find a way of putting more of my work on there instead, like time lapses of me drawing or something.

Some final notes about the workshop was the importance of email addresses being professional, consistent photographs across social media and even photo of me doing my art as the picture which is something I do not have an image of, and also email signatures, which is something I have not considered at all but may be useful for me to spread my instagram for example.

Overall I really enjoyed the workshop, it was not just sitting and watching an hour of a video, it was engaging and interesting and has definitely made me enthusiastic about building more skills and watching more content on CareerCake too.

Cardiff Met Award Reflective Blog Post

The Cardiff Met Award is offered to students at my University and involves 100 hours of work experience, five workshops, two blog posts and a presentation. I completed my work through work experience for two weeks in the summer and a week of paid work and a little bit of my society work. I wrote my first reflective blog post today summing up my time in the first term and what I managed to get done during this time towards finishing the Award.

“This term I am particularly proud of the Leaders Accelerator workshops I attended as training for the Enactus Society in Birmingham, the event was held in the HSBC building and was a professional atmosphere, that I have not had experience with before. The workshop I attended first was an organisational challenge with Enterprise Rent-a-Car, managing the day-to-day activities of the garage, accounting for time management, customer skills and business knowledge. I completed this working with two strangers, this definitely assisted with team skills for the future, something I have been working on recently, such as signing up for talks and workshops without friends to order to work with strangers. I also attended a panel talk and another skills workshop later on in the day, but the point I was particularly proud of for this event was the fact that I travelled to somewhere I have never been, something I would normally be nervous doing, so I think this is definitely a step forward.

Work experience at the Corgi sock factory was an interesting time, I have done work experience before but tended to do it through family friends or familiar faces, however this one I reached out independently as I wanted the experience of this particular place. It was a busy environment with a lot of different type of work going on, from admin, to design room, to the factory floor, and I was happy to experience as much as I could, as I believe work experience does not just have to be finding something you really want to do, but also what you do not want to do either.

I learnt a lot about business throughout my two weeks there, as a small factory where the process is done from start to finish, I witnessed first-hand the running of this, which could potentially help me in future should I start my own business.

In the first week of term, I worked with the Student Union as part of the team welcoming freshers and showing them around. This was a very engaging role and meant I had to speak to a lot of people and learn quickly, as we were communicating with people our own age, there was a line between professionalism and also being approachable and fun, showing new students how campus life can be enjoyed. I felt like a learnt a lot on this role, people skills are very important in the working world and I feel like I have prepared myself much more for this. The fresher’s fayre was an important opportunity to get involved in the recruitment of students to societies, I was proud that I was able to recruit as many people as I did, I learnt quickly it was about being short enough to not be boring, and also interesting enough to keep their attention. Sometimes it was a case of figuring out on the spot whether the student would be more interested in the society’s aims of planting a wild garden for the environment, or whether socials or experience on the CV would be more interesting to them.

This similarly applied to collecting items from local businesses for the Enactus hamper, being short and sweet but also informative. This was a challenge to me at first because it was going out in the community and talking to strangers and being able to accept rejection and sometimes rudeness which I think again prepares me for the future quite well.

I also attended a CV writing workshop, as I felt mine was a little out of date, I learnt a lot about layout and minimising content, however the workshop was aimed at more professional CVs as opposed to creative ones, so next term I plan on working on this further with a member of the team on a one-to-one basis, to ensure I have a CV I can be proud of when I leave university. I also learnt about the importance of tweaking CVs depending on the job being applied for, this seemed obvious after we looked at it but something I have never done before. It makes sense to prioritise my design based jobs in the creative industry over my restaurant experience when applying for creative jobs, so I think this will definitely benefit me in the future.

Next term overall I plan to continue with workshops that will help further my skills in creative ways as well as workshops that help with life and work related skills, I do not plan on doing the five workshops and stopping, I want to make the absolute most of my time at University and workshops for me are a good way to achieve this.”