Monday, April 8, 2013

Something to Offer

Today, I received a grade for an assignment I had to submit in the first semester of college this year, a scheme of work. (Those are the fun things teachers get to put together to plan a whole series of lessons well in advance of the actual lessons...) I hadn't expected to do well (so I was pleasantly surprised), but what was more important to me were the words of the lecturer.

"You have a lot to offer."

I thought about that for a while. I kept focusing on it, until a friend of mine popped into the building back from England, and well...I stopped focusing on it. Right up until I got on the bus to go home, when I was back in "Thinking about the future" mode. That's always fun...

Anyway, I thought about those words, and what she meant. She meant the Drama Soc. She meant the writing. And I thought to myself, how many people in the college have something to offer when they go for a job interview?

We wondered about certain things like this for the year book, and realized that people didn't really talk about  what they did in their spare time that could be discussed as an added bonus come job-hunting. I know there are some people who play sports (okay, a lot of people...), but other than that I could only think of a couple of different things that set people apart that were actually part of the college life: the Drama Soc, the Writers' Soc, and the musicians. Now, not everyone who acts, writes, sings or plays an instrument necessarily does it in the college, but there's not a lot else catered for.

So, thinking more broadly. Fund raising. Quite a few people have done that. Can it help with a teaching position? Like I've said before: it's a lifestyle, not just a job. Many teachers do a lot outside of the classroom.  So, involvement in things like the SVP Society. That's always beneficial. What about the G-Soc? (Gaelic.) I don't know. I couldn't possibly know, having not joined. The SU offers obvious benefits. Organizing the ball or the yearbook, also beneficial.

While I have been involved in Drama, writing, fundraising and the yearbook over my four years in college, I didn't think of it like this. It wasn't about adding to my CV. I did it for me. Apparently, that means I have a lot to offer, and I can see some sense in that (though not because it's me.) Up until recently, my old secondary school didn't have a Drama Club. Experience with Drama would help with something like that, both the acting elements of it and all the behind-the-scenes sort of stuff.

Is it too late for people to get involved in these sorts of things? If they're leaving the college this year, obviously they can't participate in the societies. But what about outside of college? I know I'll be looking for somewhere to act when I find myself living only my own life come September. That'll be weird. And there are writing groups outside of college. Plenty of them. Charities are always looking for volunteers. Sports clubs are always open to new members.

Basically, I think we've all got something to offer, and ways to pick up new hobbies that reflect well on us. It feels weird to think of us in these terms, but that's how it works in many cases. Yes, it can be about the CV, but I think picking up something like acting or writing just to look better to employees seems a bit hollow. I think it's much easier to enjoy something and to keep it up if it's not simply for the sake of appearances. It's definitely easier to speak about it passionately if it's something you actually are passionate about.

Evident by my blathering, yes?

The point, I suppose, is that I never really considered the optional extras in college as being points on a CV. I never thought of them as something to offer. To me, they were just part of life. They were things I loved to do, and they were activities that helped me make new friends and talk to them on a regular basis.

I've seen plenty of CVs in my time to know what it looks like when someone does a lot. A broad range of interests is nice to see, because someone looks like they've done more with their time than simply stuck to study or work, or "socializing". Life looks more interesting and a person more rounded when certain things pop up on a piece of paper. Some of it is relevant, some of it isn't, and that's the hardest part of writing a CV for a specific job: how do you show what you have to offer?

I won't assume my classmates (a) read my blog or (b) need to read this in particular, but to me, it seems that if you're going for a job in a school, having some engagement with the world outside of the lecture hall is a requirement. Schools always need people to run teams. Schools run Drama Clubs. Some schools have magazines, written by students. The new Junior Cycle Programme will place demands on teachers to prove their worth.

How to do that without sounding like an ass seems difficult, but I guess that's why we're allowed to hide behind a piece of paper with our qualifications written on it. My main concern is, how do we even identify what's unique and interesting to offer to schools as an added extra? Should we have to? (Ideally, we wouldn't have to talk about ourselves...but then we'd be robots.)

When I stop having an existential crisis about what the future holds, I'll let you know. But for now, I'm back to worrying if what I've done in college looks like something that appeals to employers, and how what I want to do for the next few months makes me look. Yay worries..?

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