Before I begin, I must admit I haven’t written a blog in quite some time so my ‘blog writing skills’ may be a bit rusty…bare with me folks!

My first week at UIT included many ‘firsts.’ Like anyone, when starting a new job your first day can be nerve wracking and a bit overwhelming, but for me neither of those feelings occurred. When I first arrived at UIT I was welcomed with open arms by the staff but I was also welcomed by students and success coaches, a first I have never experienced at any job before. As I began to settle in, I knew my time at UIT would be a learning curve and that my job as a recruitment officer would be a learning experience. I was eager to begin working but before that I had to become familiar with the apps and programming used at UIT. Slack, Trello and HubSpot were popular modes of communication and to my advantage, very easy to use. Soon after I became familiar with these apps I began thinking, heck maybe the tech ‘world’ we speak of isn’t so hard to understand but then words such as redis, coding and larp were later thrown around the classroom which made me think to myself…..whuuuuut? As a recruitment officer these applications won’t apply to me but having an understanding of what they do so I can relay this information to prospective students is a learning curve I am willing and hoping to overcome.

I was given the opportunity to sit in on a ‘pitching’ class with the seven students currently enrolled here at UIT and instructor Ian MacNeil. The class included evaluating students performance in a three minute video on a topic of their choice. A topic with a tone in which set the mood for an intended audience to either think or do an action. At the end of this class I realized UIT was different and unique. Why? Because their students are unique. Of the presentations I listened to I was blown away with the ideas and topics students wanted to talk about. Of the topics discussed they all had one thing in common which was passion.

This passion transferred into the afternoon class which I had the opportunity to sit in on as well. During this class students discussed their startup ideas they will be pitching to Propel later in the semester. Of the ideas that were discussed, I was in ‘awe’ at what the students wanted to create. Not only did the startup ideas sound interesting and effective but they also addressed current problems some of which help enhance the economic prosperity of Cape Breton and surrounding areas.

Throughout the week I began to become more comfortable in my work setting. UIT is far from a regular workspace environment (in a good way of course). UIT even has a slipper policy? I get to wear slippers to work….this….is….the….best. Aside from the great news about slippers, the environment is non-threatening, I am able to be myself and talk about more than just work but what I am doing in my personal life, interests and hobbies.

The pace during the following days at UIT began to pick up. I began scheduling meetings, drafting e-mail templates  and organizing lists of students to get in touch with in regards to next year’s enrolment. Chatter about entering local high schools to do open-house information sessions seem to be on the radar, an exciting opportunity for myself to meet students and ignite their interest about what UIT has to offer.

To end my first week at UIT I was able to sit in on Ian MacNeil’s class again. Friday’s class was about the media, a topic of conversation which is ‘right of my alley’ you could say. Discussions about media interactions, media interviews and communications plans took place. I had the opportunity to touch up on my writing skills by drafting a media release. This was actually great practice for me and also gave me the opportunity to correlate with Spencer, a current student here at UIT.

During the drive home from work on Friday afternoon I was able to reflect on my first week and feel excitement for what is to come. I am eager to start interacting with prospective students and educate them about what UIT has to offer. As mentioned, UIT is unique as is their students and I am hoping to use this to my advantage during the recruitment process for 2017!

Self-directed learning: It’s overused and underestimated at every turn. Sometimes, adult learners don’t quite understand how to be self-directed and confuse self direction with motivation and initiative. Trust me though, they are very different and self-directed learning – which probably needs an updated term – is one of the most important skills a person can develop.

Here’s why: if you can discover your ability to become self-directed, you can teach yourself virtually anything. Like, literally anything. When you unlock the door to your own brain and if are frank about your strengths and weaknesses, you can master what your heart desires.

Now, I’m not saying that teaching yourself to piece together a car or build a house will be an easy task, but I am saying you can teach yourself to do it. The trick is in identifying your learning style and working to improve your weaknesses, as well as your strengths.

If you are not “handy”, you can learn to be handy by starting with small, easily accessible projects. Build a square box. That’s it. Don’t do anything else. Learn what it takes to “square” two pieces of wood, and figure out how to make them level. Find sources to help you learn these things: identifying other people who have the skills already is a good place to start. Knowing where to look online or in a book is helpful too. It doesn’t matter how you  come to acquire the knowledge necessary to build the box; what is important is that you build the box no matter what.

Self-directed learning is about seeking out new knowledge and navigating your resources to make the most of your goals. Self-directed learning is not sitting at home studying for a test: while the act of directing yourself to sit and study is certainly noteworthy, it does not define the true power of self-directed learning.

UIT Startup Immersion encourages students to be self-directed learners. We give you the tools you need to succeed, but how you take those tools out into the world and how you use them is based on your drive, determination and curiosity about the power of your new found knowledge. What’s cool about our program is that we actually teach you to become self-directed. We do this by constantly asking you why, how, what, when, where, why, why, why? We do this by asking you what else is there? What else could there be? We send you out to find out for yourself what else is out there. The more questions you ask, the more informed you’ll be, and the better prepared you’ll be to take on your next project. Having the ability to filter through the crap and find the good stuff is what self-directed learning can help you achieve.

There are arguments for the pros and cons of both traditional learning classrooms and online learning classrooms but whether one is really better than the other doesn’t matter: what matters is a person’s ability to leave a learning opportunity armed with the ability to continue learning more about a topic or skill that they are interested in: and it starts with arming yourself with the ability to be self-directed. Want to learn how to unlock the power of self-directed learning and start working toward a career in tech and entrepreneurship – where learning happens everyday – then come check us out.