I am just as interested in productivity as I am in wellbeing. I want students to be happy and healthy and connected, but also to be good at their studies, efficient and generating high quality work.
Whilst Health, Counselling and Disability Services and Oasis (where I work) have a strong focus on the wellbeing side of the university experience, there are services at Flinders that are more focused on your productivity. This includes the Student Learning Support Service (SLSS) and the Horizon Award Program.
The Horizon Award Program “sits alongside of your academic studies; it is an innovative program that provides further opportunities to develop your professional skills and gain new experiences and insights that will benefit you now and in your future career.”
Essentially the Horizon team provide multiple training, mentoring and volunteering opportunities that give you work-ready skills. The program is recognised by employers as indicating you’ve sought to develop your work skills, beyond that of just your studies. You earn points for each opportunity that you take. The more points you earn, the greater the ‘award’ you are given at the end of your degree.
I was lucky last week to attend the online Horizon Awards Ceremony, where students who had achieved Silver (210 points), Gold (500) and Platinum (1000) status on the Horizon Awards program were recognised for their amazing efforts. My congratulations again to those students who received an award.
The ceremony had two guest speakers. One (Mike) extolled the virtue of volunteering as a pathway to new skill development but also job opportunities. Do well at a volunteer position and you may well be offered employment as a result.
He also talked about ‘transferable skills’, skills that you pick up in one job context that are generally relevant to other different jobs as well. Examples he gave were leadership, teamwork, planning, time management, decision making, problem solving, communication and change management. I talk about transferable skills in our Preparing for Work Placements document.
He also emphasised the importance of ‘life-long learning’ – that one can (and should) continue to accrue knowledge and skills beyond one’s degree. I found this a timely reminder for myself, because after my PhD was finished I fell into a lull in terms of ongoing learning. It has only been in the last 5 years or so that I have really re-discovered and re-embraced the value of continuing to educate oneself. Again, he highlighted volunteering as a great context in which to do this.
The second speaker (James – who was receiving a platinum award) emphasised that employers rate ‘experiences’ (i.e. the kind you’d get in the Horizon Program) as equal to (maybe better) than grades. He implored students to continue to work on their personal development.
He also encouraged students to question their current status professionally, and if not satisfied, to set off deliberately to find a new passion or area. He talked of his own experience of finding himself at a stage in his life where he had no passion, no ambition and chronically ill. He made the journey back from illness through deliberate self-education and this opened up to him his passion (nutrition).
Attending the ceremony was a wonderful reminder to me of a couple of things:
- Being at uni is more than just your degree. There are opportunities for developing all aspects of yourself whilst you are at Uni. Horizon is one, but there are many ways to get involved beyond just your degree.
- When you work on your own personal development (e.g. volunteering) you usually open yourself up to meeting new people, making new friends, and even scoring yourself a job. It is an example of how a seemingly selfish endeavour (make myself better) usually ends up benefiting many. It is why I am so interested in self-improvement.
Make sure you are at the next ceremony, by enrolling in the Horizon Award Program and opening yourself up to new opportunities.