As part of the Good Ideas for Student Employability, a mini conference held at De Montfort University, Leicester, Kaye Towlson delivered a “Writing PAD” employability mapping workshop. This was attended by DMU academic staff from a variety of disciplines, professional services staff including Careers, employability and placement officers plus students. The workshop provided an opportunity for attendees to experience the different employability mapping techniques used to enable the exploration and reflection of individuals’ skills, experience and potential career or employment areas. This was a “Whistle stop” tour as the workshop is usually delivered in 90 minutes yet today there was only a 45 minute session available. However, the conference is geared to sharing ideas so this taster session certainly enabled attendants to get a flavour of the power of Writing PAD techniques.
The workshop followed the following pattern and produced the following objects:
- Map: How did I get here?
- Collage: Where would I like to go?
- Make connections…..
- Your key skills handprint
- A message to your future self
All attendees engaged enthusiastically with all of the activities and the role of sharing and the benefit of peer to peer discussion essential to these techniques was mentioned. Music was played during activities, Bach and Beethoven to overcome copyright limitations imposed by the recording of the session and the use of contemporary music. There was a buzz in the air when attendees tore appealing images from magazines and newspapers for there “Where would I like to go?” collage and much merriment when “Here comes the bride” was suddenly heard as part of the “YouTube” Beethoven collection, a mysterious intervention but not affecting attendants’ potential directions of employment.
At the end of the workshop all were given a round of applause for participating in so many techniques in a short space of time. Many in attendance said how much they enjoyed the workshop and thought the techniques could be fruitfully used both in the curriculum and in a specific employability event. Students attending said they “loved” the session commenting that they had not thought about any of this before and it was a great opportunity to do so. One student commented that the workshop was quite emotional as she was discovering things she wanted to do and when writing her postcard to her future self she felt close to tears. This feedback chimes with other feedback from previous employability mapping workshops, some students do have an epiphany moment when they can see themselves heading in a certain employment direction or realising how rich their skills base is.
The fun, exploratory and reflective nature of the workshop encourages student curiosity and facilitates the verbalisation of skills, experiences and directions for students resulting in the articulation of talents and their real world application, subjects with which many students struggle.
The workshop was very much in the spirit of the day with Writing PAD visual and kinaesthetic techniques providing a series of “Good ideas for Student Employability”.