One of our CPiC lessons was based around the skills we possess and what skills we feel we need to improve upon to work well in a professional environment that we will have to enter as artists. I found it beneficial to have this type of lecture, because applying my creative abilities into a workable job or business is a prospect I have always found quite daunting.
We were given a ‘Skills Map’ that contained a range of different skills in different categories that are all required in a professional work environment. We were asked to highlight which skills we felt we already possess (here, in light blue) and those we felt we needed to improve upon (here in dark green). I found this a little challenging, as I didn’t know what was meant by some of the terms and so had to look them up, and in other cases I found that my opinion of myself differed to experiences I have had or the way other people have told me I come across. Therefore, I had to wrestle with some of the terms and try to figure out wether it was how I felt about myself or if it was the reality of how I work.
I feel as though my skills in the area of co-operating are rather good, and so this area is all in light blue. I would name one of my main skills as the ability to listen to, engage with and help others in all aspects of my life, not just my art practice. I also believe I would be okay at leading, but as I have rarely been in a position where I have had to delegate, negotiate and be assertive, usually preferring to be a team player, it was difficult for me to say wether or not I possess these skills. I also think that my time management is one of my strengths, as I rarely if ever miss a deadline, but even in school I was never good at setting myself clear, simple, achievable objectives that I could then reward. My communication skills, I believe, are also quite strong – even when I lack confidence or get nervous about making presentations, speaking to crowds or in group crits, I feel as though I am good at making suggestions and can speak concisely. I have been told I speak well on the occasions I have been asked to speak at my church youth group, and don’t really struggle to speak up in class, talk to strangers, or write well (for the most part).
In places where I used dark green it wasn’t that I’m especially bad at these things, just that they could be better. For example self reliance is always something I’ve struggled with, and personally believe that we don’t have to be completely individual, totally self reliant people, as I believe in family, community, and faith. However, it would be better for me to have more confidence, and I know I have missed out on opportunities that may have been interesting and fruitful purely because I didn’t self-motivate or just stuck to what I knew I have to do, rather than taking on extra projects. As well with investigating and researching – I do immerse myself in art and culture, and try to read and learn as much as I can, but I feel as though this is a skill that can always be improved. My IT skills aren’t bad, and fit the purposes I have for them now – word processing, using the internet and email, etc – but if I needed to work for someone requiring illustrator or photoshop skills, I would be found lacking. As with numeracy, it is adequate for how I currently use it, but may not be in a professional environment depending on what is being asked of me.
Overall, I found this exercise of looking at a skills map and analysing our own skills very useful to help me identify where I feel I need to improve. However, putting everything into categories in this way made it more difficult for me to distinguish, and I found myself wanting to write “Well, it depends..” for a lot of the skills areas. I have only had one part time job in the past, which means so far I possess the skills that I required for that, and for an education environment, and I am unsure how well this will translate into my professional practice. However, I am hoping that over the course of these three/four years I can develop these skills, and with the option to have a year in industry I could even see how my skills transfer before I have to enter the world and be self-reliant. I also think some of these skills will come more naturally with age and maturity, or are skills that we can’t necessarily define as possessing, but will always need building and improving.