Whether it’s for a resume, an eportfolio, or a job interview, knowing how to present ourselves to an audience is hard. We’ve all stared at a blank computer screen for an extended period of time, not knowing where to start. How can we summarize our life story into one page? Where do you even start?
Self-Reflection Defined: “Self-Reflection is mediation and serious thoughts about one’s character, actions, or motives.”
Before jumping to conclusions that Self-Reflection is just as hard as presenting to your audience, take a moment to consider these steps from Sandburg. It’s very similar to exercising. It sounds really hard at first, but once you get in the rhythm, it all starts making sense. You will be happy you got started!
“It is necessary … for man to go away by himself ... to sit on a rock ... and ask, ‘Who am I, where have I been, and where am I going?” – Carl Sandburg
Step 1: Who am I?
From a career standpoint, an individual can be good at something and not enjoy it. Let’s be honest, lacking motivation and heart for your career will eventually give. So for this first step, focus on writing down the things you both enjoy and are good at. For example, maybe you are good at solving problems and you enjoy helping people. Make note of these areas and look for consistencies. Write down all the things that fire you up and that you are naturally motivated to do. Ultimately, these intrinsic motivators are what shape who you are.
Step 2: Where have I been?
This is where the reflection on past experiences will take place. Really look at what career decisions you have made and whether they turned out well or not. Learn from your mistakes, but also learn from the work environments you have enjoyed. If you haven’t had a lot of job experiences yet, write down what type of courses you really enjoyed and the learning environments where you work best. Perhaps you really liked round-table discussions or hands-on experiences. Again, apply the motivation aspect, but now specifically to your past career experiences. If you have some work experience, what positions did you like and how did you excel? Which ones were a challenge? By answering these questions now, you will be ready to really present your true passions and gifts.
Step 3: Where am I going?
After the first two steps, you should start noticing some consistencies in what career paths are a good fit for you. Consider what you can already offer to an employer with the education and the training that you’ve already received. It’s alright if you don’t have all the answers, but having a better understanding of where your strengths and passions are is a huge step in itself. Knowing the career paths you don’t want to take is also a huge victory.
These questions can help you reflect on who you are and where you want to be in life. Reflecting on this information can help you while preparing your resume, piecing together important artifacts for a portfolio, and speaking intelligently about your experiences in an interview. Even if you aren't preparing for any of the above, these tips will help you appreciate the work you've put in to get where you are today.