SkillsAct4Vet – Training

Module 2 - During the mobility

Unit 6: The Tasks Map’s Grid: Practical tools for teachers to improve soft skills activation in students during internship abroad

Unit 6: The Tasks Map Grid: Practical tools for teachers to improve students’ soft skills activation during internship abroad

Teachers’ role

Teachers, mentoring the work experience, can lead the students in a process of continuous improvement of their behaviors.

This section gives teachers practical tools on how to guide students to effectively activate soft skills during the internship.

Objective:

  • promote behavior related to an adequate soft skills activation
  • show how to receive feedbacks
  • show how to give feedbacks
  • present strategies and methodologies that can effectively facilitate soft skills development
  • present tools to increase soft skills awareness and activation in teachers themselves

Practical tips for each explored soft skill:

How to improve Proactivity activation while performing tasks during the internship:

Students may find it very difficult at the beginning, especially in another language, to ask for clarification when they are not sure about the tasks given to them or about what they can and cannot do during the internship abroad.

Suggested behaviours:

  • Identify a person from the company (your tutor, a colleague, a local intern) who you feel more confident to talk to;
  • Ask him/her any question you have about the task;
  • When you finish with your tasks, ask your tutor if there is something more to do or even propose your own ideas;
  • Ask for feedback on your job, or how you could do it better;
  • If you do not have a specific task assigned, you can observe your colleagues and train your language skills (you can ask how to pronounce a word or a sentence)

How to improve Adaptability and context reading activation while performing tasks during the internship:

During the first days of the internship abroad, it is very common for the students to feel confused, stressed, lonely or even to experience a cultural shock. This is perfectly normal, because for many of them it is the first time to be far from their families, friends and homes, where everything is familiar and under control. Being outside of one’s “comfort zone” is not easy. It requires more attention in order to understand the dynamics of the new situation, which can be very different from the one the students are used to, and to adapt to it in order to make the best out of the situation.

Suggested behaviours:

  • Try to read up on your receiving country and know as much as possible about the professional sector of your internship;
  • Improve your language skills: just a couple of words every day can help you feel more comfortable and make a difference;
  • Observe how other people interact among each other;
  • In case you have some doubts, ask politely if you can or can’t do something;
  • Accept any invitation to join your colleagues, for instance during coffee break or lunch, or outside working hours in order to get to know the most you can from local people;
  • Accept to do things the way locals do: eat at the typical local time, drink coffee as a local, eat local specialities;
  • Allow yourself to feel unexpected feelings, such as homesickness or frustration;
  • Maintain at any moment an open-minded attitude: your new way of living while abroad is simply different from the familiar one. Accept the differences as a part of the experience;

How to improve Self confidence activation while performing tasks during the internship:

Every student has his/her strong and weak points, and an internship experience helps young learners recognise them, as it it often the first occasion to put into practice what they learn in school. It is important that they start realizing what they are good at and what they like to do and in what aspects they can improve, in order to have a more realistic understanding of their personality. During the internship they can observe how they may contribute to the tasks with their strengths and also learn how to handle their weaknesses. Students should realize that if they are the first ones not to believe in themselves and their capabilities, it will be difficult for other people to believe in them and trust them with new tasks. Also, remind them that they shouldn´t be afraid of making mistakes because it’s just a part of the learning progress.

Suggested behaviours:

  • Remember that everyone makes mistakes;
  • Think about a time when you overcame a difficult situation and you succeeded;
  • Do not compare yourself to others, compare yourself with your past self and you’ll see your progress;
  • Remember that being abroad as you are now required great courage: be proud of yourself;
  • Be kind to yourself and talk nicely to yourself. Instead of telling yourself “I can’t handle this,” try reminding yourself that “all I have to do is try’’ and that “everything seems impossible until it’s done”.
  • Instead of telling yourself “I’m not good at this” when you make a mistake, remind yourself “I can do better next time,” or “at least I learned something.”
  • Remember that you are an intern in a learning process. If you’re afraid to try a new task and your tutor is giving you the chance, try it anyway. Tell yourself it’s just an experiment and see what happens.
  • If, after giving it a try, you still don’t feel ready to perform the task alone, you can tell that to your tutor. There’s nothing wrong with that; you’re there to learn and they know that.

How to improve Followership activation while performing tasks during the work-placement:

Sometimes people think that they know the best way to do something, but in reality the best ideas come when various people share their points of view on the issue. People can see the same thing from different perspectives, so it is important to take into consideration what others think before and after taking action.

Suggested behaviours:

  • Do your work to the best of your abilities, following received instructions;
  • Cooperate with others to reach the final outcome also with basic tasks. Especially at the beginning of your internship, the tasks entrusted to you can be simple. Nevertheless, although simple, they are contributing to the company goals;
  • Express constructive feedback: say what you think without criticizing, but proposing a solution if you think it can help with a given situation;
  • Contribute with your ideas, because they can be really helpful for the development of the project;
  • Ask for feedbacks, to be sure that the tasks you are performing are in line with the final objective;
  • Listen to your colleagues and mentors, observe them working and make sure that what you are doing is complementary to what others are doing;
  • If something is urgent, cooperate to complete it;
  • If a volunteer is needed to complete a process, and you think you can do that, offer your support, although this may require more time, or makes you postpone a less urgent task you are performing.

How to improve Cultural Awareness activation while performing taks during the work-placement:

Try to think about a foreign student coming to your country: s/he would probably think that some things completely normal for you are strange. In the end, everything is a matter of custom and social conventions.

Suggested behaviours:

  • Forget stereotypes: try to understand the reason behind some of the behaviours that you find “strange” (for example: history, geography, climate can contribute to people’s actions and behaviour).
  • Try not to generalize about people sharing a trait (for example: all men are like this, all Spanish people are like this).
  • Ask yourself: do you think that you are identical to all the people of your country, city, gender, age just because you have that characteristic in common?
  • Practice your self-awareness: what assumptions do you make about people from the same background as you? Are they stereotypes as well? You may discover you have some biased views about your own cultural background.
  • Spend time with local people: getting to know them is the best way to understand them and to forget about stereotypes and generalizations. On the contrary, you will discover that you may have more in common that you thought or they can give you a new perspective on various matters.