Analysis of Personal Strengths and Areas to Develop
Module Code and Name
Actual word count: 847
The work placement exercise highlighted my practical skills, tools, and the knowledge that I will need to succeed in the working environment. I found that I have focused a lot on theoretical output in my educational journey, yet the workplace demands that I am able to apply practical aspects of the knowledge. From my own experience, there is a huge gap that I need to fill in terms of what I know theoretically versus what is needed practically to become competent in my area of work. The work placement exercise was a good opportunity to advocate for the acquisition of technical skills so as to complement my theoretical knowledge gained in the classroom environment. Through the entire project, I was able to gain experience relating to my own strengths and a highlight of all the areas that I need to work on going forward.
In my experience, I found out that there is a recurrent theme of companies looking for top talent in their recruitment exercises. However, the main measure of being a top talent often involves theoretical prowess gained through classroom performance (Hesketh, 2000). Yet, the job itself involves a practical application of concepts relevant to one’s post. In a real-world employment environment, I found practical skills to be insufficient in my own experience. What surprises me is the insistence of higher education on theoretical functions of a unit or subject versus the specialized demands for practical application in the workplace. This surprises me because I would expect that higher education institutions try to cover this gap through introducing practical applications of the theoretical aspects of learning. My prior beliefs about the workplace are that they are an extension of the classroom without the regular examinations. I found that in addition to having good academic qualifications, I need to differentiate from others in the crowded workplace through personal added value, including abilities and skills and relevant experiences.
From the Gibb’s reflective cycle, one is able to gain wealth from an experience (Markkanen, Välimäki, Anttila, and Kuuskorpi, 2020). The work placement exercise was an invaluable learning experience for me. It provided an opportunity to understand exactly what is required in the employment scene. Being with other more experienced employees who have gone through the same education system and with the same qualifications that I have opened up my eyes to the reality that I need to add personal value to my academic qualifications. According to a research by Shammot (2014), employers are currently looking to gain competitive advantage by recruiting valuable employees who understand the need to grow and develop. At the time, I felt like the demand was too high for me. I thought that experience, value, skills, and abilities needed a lot of time to acquire. My emotions, beliefs, and values blocked me from understanding that employers want to see added value in every hire. The benefit of this experience is that it highlighted the need to grow beyond academic qualifications. To be classified as a top talent, I figured that I have to gain skills and expertise on the side. Now, looking back, I understand the need to standout in an area where every one is trying to get better. Competitive advantage is only available to those that see the need for personal added value.
In an analytical sense, things went very well for me. I was able to see that theoretical requirements instilled in the classroom should only serve as a door towards practical application. I believe that things went well for me because I realized early on in the exercise that I had a lot to learn and I was very shallow as far as experience and value are concerned. Feldt, Leskinen, and Kinnunen (2005) issue that only a handful of people are able to come out of their first employment scene with a zeal to be better. The experience was very daunting for me at first. Overall, the experience suggests that my strength is learning from difficult situations. I am able to realize that I have insufficient skills and still hold enough motivation to improve. However, this can also be a point of weakness as I tend to look down upon myself or to be very hard against my abilities.
In retrospect, I believe I would not change the experience gained in my work placement exercise. I would still begin by weighing my own value and skills against the demands of the work environment. Then, I would work to improve areas of weakness and maintain the strengths I have. My comparative advantage is the ability to assess my situation quickly and to find ways to improve without losing focus of what is expected of me. In future, I will not be so hard on myself even where my own assessment shows that I have several weaknesses. From a different perspective, I see my situation as involving minimal risk taking. I view this as an advantage because it helps me to be better. I am able to work with what I have with the full knowledge of my own limitations and strengths.
Feldt, T., Leskinen, E., & Kinnunen, U. 2005, ‘Structural invariance and stability of
sense of coherence: A longitudinal analysis of two groups with different employment experiences,’ Work & Stress, vol. 19, no. 1, pp. 68-83.
Hesketh, A. J. 2000, ‘Recruiting an elite? Employers’ perceptions of graduate education
and training.’ Journal of education and work, vol, 13, no. 3, pp. 245-271.
Markkanen, P., Välimäki, M., Anttila, M., & Kuuskorpi, M. 2020, ‘A reflective cycle:
Understanding challenging situations in a school setting,’ Educational Research, vol. 62, no. 1, pp. 46-62.
Shammot, M. M. 2014, ‘The role of human resources management practices
represented by employee’s recruitment and training and motivating in realization competitive advantage,’ The Retail and Marketing Review, vol. 10, no.2, pp. 18-37.