What are you good at? What energises you? What are your strengths?

These might seem like pretty simple questions, but it can be much easier (and less complicated) to develop knowledge of the world around us than it can be to take time getting to know ourselves. 

Everyone talks about university as a time for self-discovery, but even if you know the person you are, that’s already quite different to the one who first arrived on campus three or four months ago. It can be difficult to make sense of those changes and reflect on who you are and what makes you tick.

Self-awareness is one of the key attributes employers are looking for, especially in graduate applicants, but it’s not just something to showcase at interviews. Being self-aware shapes the way we interact with the world around us, affecting our relationships, our decision-making, and our goals and ambitions for the future. 

Knowing what our strengths are helps us to approach tasks and seek out opportunities based on what we’re good at, but also what we know we will find fulfilling because we’re genuinely interested in it. That’s the rationale that underpins the York Strengths programme.

As part of that programme, York Strengths Development Sessions are an opportunity to find out more about yourself by identifying your strengths – the things you are good at, and love to do.

Open to all first-year undergraduate students, the sessions last four hours and build on the guided self-discovery of York Strengths Online as you work with others to explore your strengths, and get feedback in a safe environment. Think of an assessment centre, but with less pressure and more brownies.

What will I actually do at a development session?

All the activities are interactive, low stakes and (genuinely) fun!

After a short lecture-theatre introduction, you will head to a seminar room and move into a small group with 3-5 other students.

A trained observer will then lead you through a series of exercises, each designed to explore particular strengths from the York Strengths Framework.

The exercises involve a range of different activities, as you work together to generate ideas, problem solve and share your individual perspectives on each task. 

There’s a little bit of presenting involved in the last exercise, but you will deliver it together as a group and to just one person (your observer), so it’s more sharing your ideas than a formal presentation to an audience.

After the exercises, you will have time to reflect on your own experience, before receiving feedback from your observer. You are not compared to anyone else, there is no pass or fail, and they’ll be focusing on the positive.

Finally, you will then sit down with your observer for a one-to-one conversation in which you can talk through your reflections and their observations, combining the two to enhance your own understanding of your strengths and to discuss your next steps, leaving with a genuine sense of purpose.