This week, Meg, a former FLARE member, reflects on what she has learned from being part of the FLARE group.
Something sad happened to me in May this year: I turned 26. I love a birthday as much as anyone, but the sad thing about turning 26 was that I would become too old to be involved with the FLARE Group. They didn't chase me from our meeting room or ban me from the building, but the situation was explained to me. I had to go.
No more FLARE? What was I going to do with myself? No more exciting trips to London, fun meetings and lovely people. FLARE is a group of the most inspiring and talented young people I've met and I wondered how I would keep my creative juices flowing without their great ideas.
When I saw a job to mentor young people with disabilities, I thought "this could be a bit like FLARE!" I had to fill out an application form, and that got me thinking about all the things I've learnt from being part of a group like FLARE. For anyone else who's a member of a club or group, thinking about the skills you've learned will be useful for you too. Here are some ideas that I used in my job application.
Good Listening Skills
When you go along to meetings, you listen. You have to, because everyone usually has lots to say and you have to listen to the group leader. By being part of a group, you've shown that you can listen to others. Try to find some examples of times when you've done this during meetings, just to prove the point.
Ability to Work in Groups or Teams
This is the posh way of saying that you've worked with other people. Being part of a group means that you've done activities as a group, and have perhaps even achieved something worth writing about in your job application. If so, don't forget to mention it!
Improved Communication Skills
Being part of a group makes you think about how you come across to other people. Whether this is through what you say (verbal communication) or how you act (such as body language, or non-verbal communication), your communication skills will have improved over your time with the group. Try to think of times when you've put your point across to others and explained yourself clearly.
If you spent a lot of time with your group, you can say that you were committed to it. It can be good to say how much time you gave to the group, just so others can see how committed you are.
Employers love this fancy language. Constructive criticism basically means that you were able to tell other people what you thought in a way that didn't upset them. You weren't rude, didn't hurt anyone's feelings, and got your point across well. If that sounds like you, get it down!
Passionate or Enthusiastic
Did you enjoy being part of the group? If so, why? Sorry, now I sound like a teacher! The point is that employers look for people who are passionate (enjoying themselves and believing in what they do) and enthusiastic (they get excited about things and work hard) because they want people who will enjoy their work and do it well. I was enthusiastic about FLARE meetings because we always had really nice lunches! I didn't think that would go down too well in the job application!
Here are a few others to think about:
Helpful - Did you help others in the group? If you did, what did you do to help?
Empathic - Did you care about how others were feeling in the group?
Reliable - Did you always do what you were asked by the leader or others in the group?
Punctual - Were you always on time?
I hope this shows that being part of a group can give you lots of important skills that are great for things like applying for jobs. All good things have to come to an end and sadly, you will have to part ways with your group one day. I got the job and now have a few hours of working with other young people to look forward to. I hope you find something great to go onto after you've left your group.