skills

If you started your DofE Skills course a while ago...here's 3 tips to help you along

If you signed up to our course a while back and haven’t yet finsished, don’t despair.

It doesn’t matter when you started your DofE Skills course, or whether it’s for your Bronze DofE or your Silver DofE - all that matters is that you finish it! If you have taken a break because life got in the way of all those extra curricular activities then here’s some tips to get you back on track.

  1. Schedule some time to read through what you have completed already, it will put you in the right frame of mind.

  2. Don’t despair if your products don’t look like everyone elses. One of the main positives about the DofE award is that it is yours alone - you work hard to achieve it and should never compare yourself to others. Soaps and bath bombs come in all shapes, sizes and colours. Some people have a creative flair, some don’t. The products still work exactly the same!

  3. If you are struggling to find time to fit everything in - schedule an hour the week after next. There is no immediate need to make something. If you have lots of homework or activities, try to find a day where you have very little. If you find a whole weekend free, schedule in to do a couple of hours. The benefit of our course is that it is completely flexible and you get to choose when to do it.

If you really find you are stuck with something - get in touch. We will always do our best to help anyone looking for support. Sometimes it can be overwheling with so much to juggle outside of school - but just take a step back. Your DofE award will look fantastic on your CV - you may not appreciate now, but believe us, it really will!

How to use your DofE skills in interviews - part II

Your DofE award gives you a wealth of experience which can be used in interviews, to great effect. You may not have thought about it yet, but at some stage soon you will find yourself being interviewed – whether it be for a Saturday or part time job, 6th form college, university or something else. Our last blog post provided a worked example of how you can use the experience of completing our DofE skills course to answer questions. These questions tend to be called ‘Behavioural competency’ questions, but don’t worry too much about the name. They are essentially just questions which need answering.

Don’t forget, our previous blog post provided information about the STAR technique of answering questions. This applies here too! In order to give you an idea about how to approach this and use your DofE experience, the following scenario is fictitious, but you can adapt it with your own experiences. Remember, the person interviewing you may not know much about the DofE so it is a good idea to give a very brief description of what each section involved!

One common question which comes up in most interviews is along the lines of;

Give an example of a time when you have had multiple tasks to work on. How did you prioritise what needed to be done? How did you organise yourself to complete all tasks?

The following would be a good answer (and I say this having interviewed many people over a number of years!)

When I completed my Bronze DofE award, I had four sections which needed to be completed within nine months, and as I was also at school, I needed to ensure I was able manage my time so that everything was done. I had to do 12 weeks each for the volunteering and the skills sections and six months for my physical section.  I volunteered at Parkrun for 12 weeks, helping set up and marshal the running course, I completed a bath bomb and soap making course to learn a new skill and I did athletics training for six months for the physical aspect. In addition to these, I had to complete an expedition which required training beforehand. (you have just described the SITUATION)

I planned how I would complete each of the tasks by prioritising them according to how long I would need to complete them. I always ensured I had a written schedule and revised it if things didn’t go to plan, so that I would still complete within the timescales I had set (you have just described the TASK)

The athletics training was the longest part, so I started to record attendance as soon as I started the DofE award, I then made sure I attended each week (even when the weather was bad) as if there had been any weeks where I could not attend it would impact on how soon I could complete it. The volunteering with Parkrun was at weekends, so this was easy to plan as it didn’t interfere with other activities. The bath bomb course was online and completed at home, so I was able to do this around other commitments such as homework and athletics. The expedition was organised by school, so this didn’t require prioritisation as the dates were fixed. (You have just described the ACTION)

I completed my DofE award within nine months, although the volunteering and skills sections were done over a slightly longer period than I anticipated because of schools exams, but because I had planned and re-evaluated my schedule, they were still within the required timeframe (you have just described RESULT) .

You do not have to use your DofE experience, but for a question like this it provides really good evidence about how you manage priorities. The sections you describe will also give the interviewer information about how you are able to do many different things.

How to use your DofE skills in interviews

You may not yet realise it, but when you complete your DofE award, you acquire skills which can be used in a variety of situations to provide real benefits. This blog post will focus on a scenario which you are likely to face in the near future – interviews. Whether it be for a Saturday or part-time job, an apprenticeship or university application, the interview process is generally the same and achieving your DofE can give you a real advantage over other applicants.

In an interview you will generally be asked questions about different scenarios – and will be marked or assessed on both the detail given in your answer and how much the example you provide answers the question asked.

Below is an example of how you can use your DofE work to your advantage – we will post more in the coming weeks. The following question is used regularly by all interviewers;

Tell us about a time when you were faced with a problem you had to overcome. What was the problem and how did you overcome it?

Here, the interviewers are looking for something YOU have done yourself, so don’t answer with a team-based example from your expedition. Think about the solo elements of your DofE – so look at Skills, Physical & Volunteering. A great way to give a good answer is to structure it using the STAR method.

S – Situation
T – Task
A – Action
R - Result

If you have completed the Soakster DofE Skills course, think about a recipe which you struggled to master. For example, you may have found that when you made soap, it started to solidify quickly and was difficult to pour. By giving backstory and a good explanation, you can provide an excellent answer at interviews. A good response to the question would be along the lines of;

As part of my Duke of Edinburgh award, I completed a bath bomb & soap making course. I had never done anything like this before, so it was a real challenge to master some of the techniques required to make the products. For example, when I was making soap, the method required the soap base to be melted until it was liquid, before the fragrance and colour are added. However, I found that by the time I had added them, the soap had started to change from a liquid into something more solid and it couldn’t be poured. (you have just described the SITUATION)

I hadn’t appreciated how quickly I needed to work, so I went back over my notes and realised that the process of melting the soap base could be repeated once the fragrance and colour had been added, if the soap had started to solidify. (you have just described the TASK)

I therefore re-melted the soap base until it was a liquid again and poured it into the moulds. (you have just described the ACTION)

The end result was that the soap formed perfectly in the silicone moulds and had a fantastic smooth finish – it looked like a proper soap bar, which would not have happened if I had tried to pour it when it was lumpy. (you have just described the RESULT).

Whilst this may not seem like a detailed example, the interviewers are looking for you to demonstrate you can think about problems in a logical way and find solutions which you are then able to action. They do not necessarily need a 20-minute explanation – if you are able to articulate yourself in a concise way, they will be impressed!

You do not need to specifically use examples from you Soakster course, you could use any situation from volunteering or physical sections, where you have had to overcome a problem. Sometimes it is helpful to have two or three possible answers, then at the interview use the one you are most confident with, or which may tie into other questions asked.