On ATL Skills and Career Development

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How approaches to learning skills influenced my career development

by Rachel Wu

When reflecting upon the MYP and DP education I received at NIST International School in Bangkok, Thailand, I feel grateful for my exposure to a holistic approach that encouraged interdisciplinary growth. We were taught not only to put emphasis on studying the information presented however also on developing our ATL (Approaches to Learning) skills. These transferrable life skills encompassed 5 key focus areas including communication, social/interpersonal, thinking, research and self-management. All are immensely integral to my success in my current role as Head of Production and Executive Producer of a television production company in Thailand.

During my time at NIST, we were asked to create a Personal Project. Tasked with picking a subject we were passionate about; I chose to write a song. In retrospect, I realize the administration was communicating to us that our individual passions were important and our development as well rounded human beings was something worthy of our time, attention and respect. Although I recognized writing a song would be unconventional I thought I’d challenge myself and my fears. Through the Personal Project, I was given the opportunity to explore my self-identity and gain the confidence to reach out of my comfort zone.

By allowing growth through participation in a diverse range of pursuits, I was able to develop a sense of self-awareness, which has helped me significantly in my career post graduation. Self-awareness has enabled me to be resilient and a fast learner in wide ranging work environments, in whatever role I decided to take on. Moreover, projects like these encouraged me to explore creative communication methods while developing the necessary self-confidence upon which effective interpersonal skills could be built.

In my opinion, effective communication and interpersonal skills have contributed to my career growth and professional success in a disproportionate manner to my actual knowledge or expertise. Without effective communication, strategies and presentations would have no vehicle to be widely understood by cross functional teams. Without honing strong interpersonal connections with colleagues, there’d be a lack of the trust and understanding needed to lay healthy foundations for the contentious debates at the office.  When large teams are faced with challenges that crop up for the very first time and no one is objectively equipped with the experience to tackle the situation at hand, it is communication and interpersonal skills that carry us through.

Again, I feel so grateful for the preparation MYP and NIST has given me through approaches to learning skills to succeed in life after school or as some call it the “real world.” Without these important skills being emphasized we would not have been prompted with the questions or projects that allowed us to dig deep and find the potential within all of us.

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