My experience with York Leaders

Guest blog written by Govind Panesar, PPE (with Placement Year)

What is ‘York Leaders’?
York Leaders is an exciting opportunity for second (or middle) year undergraduate students from all academic disciplines to gain exclusive access to an intensive training course which aims to advance your understanding of what it means to be a leader and develop your own leadership skills. York Leaders will be running online in 2020/21.

Previously before attending the York Leaders sessions, I had completed York Strengths Online and the York Award. Both programmes had helped me a lot in identifying different ways to market myself to employers, as I applied for internships and placements in my first and second year. So, with taking part in York Leaders I hoped to further develop this understanding, especially as I was thinking about possible graduate opportunities and the next steps after university. 

However, as the global pandemic hit, the sessions moved online where we had to attend 3 webinar events and a group task with a virtual presentation to a panel. After this we had a facilitated feedback and reflection session. Initially I was quite sceptical into whether an online session would work but as I got to know my team and take part in the webinars that scepticism was quickly put to rest. The fact that I was with similarly like-minded students helped me get my points across quickly, and that we had webinars on leadership and the nature of leadership meant that in the back of our heads we were all refreshed on the ethics of working as a good team. This was well reflected in how we worked together, as I found everyone brought their own specific strengths and passions to the presentation. I also think being at home made most of us (especially me) more comfortable in talking about my personal perspective on the problems posed by the question. Furthermore, the fact that the sessions are more stretched in this online format, meant you could find time in-between sessions to catch up with your group regularly. This allowed us to bond in a way where communication was more seamless and it was easier for individuals to take initiative when they could. 

My top tip: There can be a lot of pressure to present yourself as a leader straight away, so being honest with your thoughts and then listening to what others had to say was more efficient than just taking the lead or dominating a conversation. You find everyone is sort of in the same boat and everyone wants to give in the best project, so be patient and contribute when you can.

I also benefited quite a bit from the feedback session, as not only did the feedback from the observer help me figure out where I could improve, the feedback from my group actually came in handier. We had spent more time around each other in this online format and so I felt like my group could more effectively articulate what they liked about my strengths and areas they thought I could develop in.

Overall, I think York Leaders is an amazing opportunity to put your skills to the test, meet some great people, and get ready for the future. It puts you in a situation where you have to work with a group of people you might not know on a task that can initially seem daunting. In this way it is more than useful in providing you with a simulated perspective in the world of work, and as a student who is looking to develop my leadership skills before graduating, there is nothing more I can highly recommend. 

Deadline for applying is Sunday 7 February 2021 (Week 4). For more information and to access the application form, go to the York Leaders website. Don’t miss your chance!