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A CMI Student Journey

Posted on August 14, 2015

It is very easy to glide along through your professional life and avoid the stresses and strains of studying for a professional qualification, which is what I realised I had done for some time. However, there comes a time when you feel that maybe everyone else is getting something more out of their working life than you are but you cant quite put your finger on it. It took me some time, even in my role as a Recruitment Consultant, to realise that what was missing was the sense of achievement from embarking on a journey of self improvement.

I was given the opportunity to start on the exciting, and sometimes frustrating, journey of personal improvement by my MD who offered me a place on the CMI Management Diploma course. I accepted the offer with fear and trepidation and also, if I am honest, a little excitement. There is something about joining the first classroom session and being handed your first book – I was excited, which took me by surprise. Everyone in the room had that “Am I really doing this?” look but at the same time feeling rather pleased with ourselves for being so brave.

I meet with people every day and am always impressed by individuals who have taken the time and made the effort to improve their cv by gaining qualifications, whether they be professional qualifications, in-house training sessions or simply soft skills courses. We do live in a very competitive environment and therefore if you lack the self motivation or the drive to improve yourself you will be left behind and others will be ahead of you with the offer of better and more exciting opportunities.

I, like many others, did not have the opportunity to go to University, however, what I have done is try to make up for it throughout my career by keeping up with the competition and continuously working on improving my skills and knowledge. I enjoy learning but generally at my own pace and therefore joining a course was a bit of a shock, to say the least. We were given timescales and deadlines, which initially was all rather daunting, however, once the course got under way the challenge of meeting those deadlines became the driving force of each and every assignment. I was amazed at how I suddenly became extremely competitive when given the next assignment. Was I just wanting to be the teacher’s pet or had I found a whole new side to myself that I had not known existed, it had to be the latter as I had not found myself arriving at the classroom with an apple in hand. Yes I had realised that I actually was an enthusiastic student who relished the opportunity to gain knowledge and achieve high marks – who is this person I had to ask myself.

On being given the first assignment the classroom fell silent and we all looked at each other wondering if anyone else knew how to get started. I have no doubt that some of my classmates were feeling quite confident at this stage but thankfully for those of us who were not they did not gloat. In fact what I have found extremely comforting has been that during the course those that have had prior knowledge of coursework and study have been very supportive of us study virgins. What I have come to realise is that this is not a test to trip you up, this is an opportunity for each individual to grow in a friendly and supportive environment – my memories of my school days clearly have played a part in my avoiding professional qualifications thus far. At least during this experience I have not had detention, been sent to the back of the class or had to write lines! Yet…

What has been the most rewarding part of this process for me has been how I have been able to incorporate what I have learnt into my working life right from the outset. Working as a Manager has its challenges, as any Manager, I am sure, will agree. The course I embarked on completely encompasses every aspect of the role of a good Manager and from day one of the course I have been able to draw on my newfound knowledge and skills which I feel has enhanced my ability as a Manager, this has immediately made my role more rewarding. As my Team will verify I am sure there is of course the downside that at times one can become something of a CMI walking handbook, spouting management styles and theories, however, this phase does pass after the first couple of assignments.

Once the first assignment was complete I was delighted to hand it over to the tutor, feeling extremely pleased with myself and relieved to get the first one out of the way. I waited with baited breath for the feedback which was a nail biting experience. It is quite amazing how important it becomes to have produced a quality assignment. Had I understood the questions, was my writing up to scratch, had I mentioned enough management analogies to make the reviewer believe I had fully grasped the subject without spouting parrot fashion references and, most importantly, was my word count going to get past the first hurdle?

I have found it incredibly astounding how you can be expected to answer an extremely indepth question which demands theories, references and fully detailed responses and then squeeze this knowledge into a miniscule 300 or so words. It is almost as though the examining board are teasing you with the mountains of new information that you have read only to clip your wings and force you into answering the question in text message form – this most definitely is the most challenging part of the assignment. Once you have realised, however, that the phrase ‘Put it in the appendix’ relates to almost everything then you are well on the way to being a fully fledged student of professional studies.

The course has continued and we have all gained new confidence and realised, very early on, that we are privileged to be given the opportunity to undertake such an experience. We have made new contacts and friends, have learnt from each other and I believe will continue to do so in the future. Our tutor has not once thrown the book at us and no, I have not yet been given a detention. The end result is that I have found new skills, I have learnt a lot about myself and my management style and I do think, after the first flurry of being an overexcited CMI newby my team are benefiting from the experience also. I hate to admit it but although I have yet to complete this course I am thinking about what comes next!

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