Last week, Daisy our Physics student reflected on her skills development since undertaking her final year project. This week it is Oriana’s turn. Ori is studying Politics and Sociology, here she shares the academic and professional skills that she believes have been enhanced through undertaking her dissertation:
Okay so picture the scene:
You’ve just completed a 10,000-12,000 word research project on a specialist topic. You’ve had to critically approach your topic, choosing which research methodologies to use, conducting your research via meticulous critical thinking and problem solving (and even communication skills if you’ve interviewed participants), and eventually had to write it up. You’ve spent months perfecting your academic writing skills, managing your time effectively with your other assignments. Regardless of your grade, you’ve already got an impressive number of skills under your belt.
You’ve essentially just conducted your own research (specialist skills), and had to justify it all (academic writing and critical thinking skills). You’ve written abstracts, chosen which research methodologies to use and finally analysed your data or your results (research skills). You know what it means to produce meaningful, high quality and original work. You can construct bibliographies, reference your work (maybe even in a range of styles), and know how harmful plagiarising is – you can easily produce original, analytical or factual work. Maybe you’ve also gained computer skills or improved your computer literacy depending on how you analysed your results. Over the time you’ve been at university you will have also probably taken specific research modules too, and maybe even statistical data analysis modules. You’ve just bolstered these existing skills that you already had with your dissertation. Research skills are all really useful to have either in future academic study or in the professional world. For example, at work you can easily write reports independently and you have the organisational skills to even manage a team or delegate because you know how to establish and prioritise different tasks. You work well in a team, as during your dissertation you’ve understood the importance of collaboration (and maybe you also have strong presenting skills too). An example of working well in a team could relate to when you learnt things from your peers during your modules, whilst the knowledge shared by others in the academic world i.e. academic journals has been indispensable, for instance.
You’ve juggled all of this whilst completing your other assignments. You have a strong ability to consistently complete deadlines whilst effectively managing your time, for example when you had deadline xyz but you also had to write up chapter zyx of your dissertation at the same time – how did you do it? Did you have a plan? Answers to these types of questions can really highlight the depth of your skills. Maybe you had a job or you were a member of a society whilst studying too, which you can also use to highlight how efficiently you can organise your time under pressure whilst staying a dedicated, loyal and self disciplined student/employee.
You’ve just spent however many years of your life at the University of Leeds constantly interacting in some way with multiple people such as peers, lecturers, advisers and societies. Maybe you also went to networking events too, so maybe you’re used to being in professionally collaborative spaces, and you can build professional relationships easily. You are now alumni, so you also have access to the alumni network. Use these to your advantage – maybe add some people on LinkedIn or join a mentorship graduate programme. Keep in contact with your peers, either professionally or personally. Either way, this will have some benefit to you.
I hope all of this has helped in some way! If you’ve read all of this and you’re still not sure how to convey your skills to an employer, for example, remember you also get life-long access to the Careers Service even after you graduate. If you’re stuck in some way or need advice on your skills then it can be really useful to make an appointment with them.
Wishing you all strength for upcoming exams and deadlines!