-part of the N4L Series; celebrating Learning at Work Week-
It’s my great pleasure to introduce Keisha Smith…
I’m a Bajan living in the UK, a keen (slow!) runner and I’ve worked for about 12 years in the contaminated land sector, with one year running STEM outreach programmes.
What networked for learning means to me
I didn’t think that I was consciously involved in “Networked for Learning” but having thought it through I am.
I’ve been very fortunate to work with people who have supported me and who I’ve learned a lot from. Because of this I’ve been keen to give back, through volunteering at school events, speaking on panels, being a mentor and setting up professional training schemes. Through these activities I’ve met different people who have helped me either personally or in my career progression.
Sometimes my network expanded in unexpected ways; prior to taking a secondment with WISE (Women in Science and Engineering), on the plane back from holiday I struck up a conversation with the lady sitting next to me. For those who know me I’m not really one to start a conversation with a stranger (I’m probably more likely to hide in the corner!). Through the conversation I learnt she worked in researching how to get more girls into STEM in Canada. So we exchanged details and she was very helpful when I was doing my research with WISE.
Again, while taking part in a career fair I spoke to the person running the stand next to mine who worked for an educational charity. This relationship not only meant I was able to impact the lives of students but when I wanted a career break I was able to join this charity. Over the year working there I met a group of amazing people, including someone I actively pursued to become a mentor of mine and who I’ve learnt a great deal from!
‘Networked for Learning’ to me means being conscious of the people you come into contact with; be open to the opportunities they can provide and see how you can give back to others.
My personal learning insights
I’m back working at an engineering consultancy. It may seem that I’ve come full circle and the last year was a blip in the road. But I’ve learnt a lot this past year, I learnt more about finances and presented and defended my ideas to a Board; skills which I can use anywhere. I’ve also learnt about the pressures/issues students can be presented with, which can help to understand the knock on effects when recruiting graduates.
I’ve also learnt that I can do anything….you don’t need to be restricted and go down the ‘normal’ career route because sometimes the bumpy path is more beneficial and interesting.
This ‘can do anything’ attitude has helped in other areas of my life. I’ve been able to get multiple personal bests in my 5km park-runs over the last few months…..the times may be slow compared to others….. but feels great to me!!
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