After my second year at university I decided to take a year out and do a placement in London in order to gain more practical skills in the world of business. Overall it was a fabulous experience and one of the most important skills I acquired was self-direction.
During my placement year I have learned to be more self-aware. Now I know more about when and how to: lead, be part of the team, get things done, handle and drive change. I developed and learned through every opportunity, taking non-mandatory courses that the company offered, attending debates after office hours and generally being proactive about any activities I found advertised on the internal social media website. Throughout the year I invited and provided evidence-based feedback in a timely and constructive manner. Then, on the back of the development comments I received I tried to better myself and take ownership of my personal development. For example, by the end of the year, I had, had contracting conversations with all the managers in my team, so we had established clear rules of each other’s expectations and objectives for various projects.
I quickly comprehended complexity and I was intellectually curious. I made sure to always ask clarification and follow-up questions at meetings. I proactively raised issues to improve effective team working and I suggested innovative ways to approach problems we found when developing reports. I presented to a panel of directors new digital tools which could increase efficiency and data analytics tools which could improve engagement in the firm. I shared and collaborated effectively with others, creating a positive team spirit. I went out of my way to support peers and team members, demonstrating I care passionately about them and their well-being. When I had time available, I made that fact known to the team and asked the busiest person to let me help them and ease their work.
The nature of the work that I did was such that certain times of the year are busier than others, with summer time being a particularly critical period. This meant that right from the outset I was given a multitude of tasks and I stayed on top of the workload by organizing my time accurately and by remaining steady under pressure. Moreover, during busy times, I applied strategies to build my mental, emotional and physical resilience. I made sure to take regular breaks and stay away from the computer screen during lunch. I didn’t neglect my life outside work, regularly going out to the theater or visiting various sights in London with my friends. These activities made me feel refreshed and energized when going to work the next day.
All in all, I think this skill and its subset of multiple abilities will be crucial throughout life and would surely help anyone progress in a future career in business