Through this research process I have managed to obtain several “soft skills” that I believe will assist me in my academic as well as professional career. One I’d like to highlight is communication. As I have been working with fellow team members and participants that are a part of HYPE media, being able to operate successfully within this particular communication network has been integral. Written communication skills have been important in the context of writing emails to fellow team members to communicate plans. Additionally, while creating curriculum for HYPE media participants it’s important that instructions are clear and precise so they are able to understand the tasks they have been given. Furthermore, in terms of verbal communication this experience has been key in helping me cultivate the ability to express myself clearly and succinctly. During project development meetings, I’ve been able to work on my interpersonal skills as I try to figure to how to effectively communicate my ideas and concerns. Additionally, I’ve been given tips on how to facilitate discussions among participants and I plan to implement them as I continue to work with the program. Furthermore, being given the task to conduct daily check-ins with participants has also helped to bolster my everyday interpersonal/communication skills as I read their body language and maneuver my way through conversations.
Another skill I’ve been able to work on is my ability to think critically. While I’ve been simultaneously conducting research and also operating as a HYPE media team member, I’ve worked on my ability to adapt to different situations. During meetings with participant I’ve come to realize the importance of having the ability to adapt to certain meeting progressions. It’s essential that you have the ability to think on your toes and ask questions that continue to facilitate whatever discussion is occurring. Furthermore, I’ve continued to cultivate my critical thinking as I help with the creation of new curriculum. Just last week I assisted with the lesson plans for the upcoming week, which included photo/speech analysis as well as the creation of blackout poetry. This process centered in on the bolstering of several sub skills such as design aptitude, innovation, creativity and logic and problem-solving capabilities. For example, I had to come up with lesson plan ideas and then figure out how to communicate instructive messages to the participants without instigating confusion.
I’ve also taken a leadership role in this project, as I am a HYPE media team member who has managed various situations and has taken a large role in the decision-making process, including figuring out what curricula will be distributed and how distribution will take place. Additionally, my skills gained as a discussion facilitator have also assisted in my growth as a leader.
During this process I also have been able to work on my ability to operate within a team network. In project development meetings it’s been important that I am able to function with those around me as we work to develop plans for future endeavors. Furthermore, working with the HYPE media team has helped me gain skills in areas such as negotiation, being able to appreciate the different skillset each member brings to the table, and having the ability to accept feedback from others. For example, the other day my mentor who is also the head of HYPE media gave me tips on how to facilitate discussion, something I had never really had to do before due to me usually being the “student” in the situation with the teacher figure trying to get me to participate or speak more on a certain topic. Additionally, the process for creating lesson plans is collaborative in nature, therefore, it’s necessary for you to provide your ideas and opinions but it also important that you are able to listen to others and possibly build off of someone else’s proposal.
This research project has also definitely been a great opportunity for me to continue to improve my work ethic. As I am not just a researcher but also an educator, team member, and program developer, in this situation I definitely have a lot on my plate. However, that won’t stop me from trying to always get task done on time and effectively communicate any issues I foresee if I believe that end goal might not be possible. Usually during the school year, in order to stay organized, I would use a planner, but lately I’ve been marking everything down in my e-calendar and setting reminders for when certain tasks are due or when meetings are being held. So far, this system has worked for me and I haven’t had any issues. I also have used this as opportunity, to continue to make sure I operate as a reliable and responsible individual. Continuously showing my ability to remain attentive, dependable, and execute task properly.
In terms of hard skills, I would say that I’ve gained more mastery in analytical thinking. As I am conducting qualitative research; I do reflect on past conversations within this program setting and see how they fit into my research. Additionally, when discussing the hard skills I’ve gained, I would tie my presentation skills as well as my video production skills together. For this media project, I have created videos that are meant to present instructional information to the participants in a concise and easily understandable manner. I was given the task to create a video that explained how to conduct photo analysis and I believe that task also involved the cultivation of subset hard skills such research, my ability to visually communicate information, my ability to analyze the data I collected, and lastly my ability to report this information to the participants. Furthermore, with this specific task, as I mentioned before, my video production skills were cultivated as I created the videos, conducted post-productions edits, and then distributed them for use. Moreover, I also worked on my project management skills as I participated in project planning and strategic planning in order for HYPE media to have a successful summer session. During team meetings I would help with formatting lesson plans as well as assignments for the youth. Additionally, I would participate in the discussions we conducted concerning how meetings with the participants would be carried out.
This opportunity has also allowed me to continue to develop my writing skills on several different levels. For example, the writing I’m conducting write now for this blog post has helped me exercise my writing abilities. Additionally, I have been taking part in note-taking writing in order to gather information as well as email writing in order to get in contact with certain individuals for stakeholder interviews. Furthermore, I of course have been taking part in academic writing as I am writing my research paper in a step by step process. Additionally, while creating the instructional videos for the students I created a script which provided me with the opportunity to exercise my presentation writing skills and I also will be able to work on those skills as I create my final presentation for this research seminar as well as the University’s of Pittsburgh Diversity Forum. Moreover, as I work with the youth in executing a social media campaign, I learned more about social media writing in terms of captions and what captures an audience’s attention.