Sprint is a personal development programme for female undergraduates. University of Warwick Chemistry undergraduate and guest blogger Manpreet Kaur, shares her experience and highlights what she has gained from the process.
I participated in Sprint recently and indeed, it is very personal. You’ll find exploring yourself and your values and beliefs from day one. While this can sometimes put you outside of your comfort zone Sprint helped me to realise how important it is to talk to the inner you to make sure you understand yourself.
Speaking from a personal perspective – Sprint is not about learning or being told the answers to the big questions. It is more about learning to ask questions, learning to reflect and learning to experiment and trying to discover the answers for yourself. You get Sprint trainers / coaches to give you the ingredients of human disposition but it is then your task to use the knowledge and apply it to your life and see where it fits and how to best use the tools to help yourself, and of course seek help when you need to.
You don’t have to be the most unconfident person in the world to do Sprint…
Many women doing Sprint were already very powerful and confident, in my opinion. Nevertheless, they all shared how they all got something out of it. It is more about working on your goals that you set yourself during the programme and hopefully understanding yourself better.
I walked into Sprint with a clear goal of developing confidence. I was very clear that I have a great deal of self-awareness, I am very assertive and I am certainly very good at time management. But I walked home after my third day saying to myself “we need to talk”. It was an eye-opening experience and I learnt so much about myself. Sprint does not fundamentally transform you into the woman you want to be but it certainly, for me, has served as the beginning of a change. It has pushed me to work on my strengths and weaknesses but more importantly, to confront my weaknesses that I didn’t quite have the confidence to address and accept therefore had buried away inside.
With regards to assertiveness, ‘no’ is indeed a word very common in my dictionary. I do find it difficult to commit to things I don’t want to do therefore plainly and honestly refuse. However, Sprint touched upon aspects of assertiveness that were quite interesting. For example, if I don’t want to go out with my friends, I’d say no but then I’d probably write ‘sorry’ ten times in the message. Now I find that I use the words ‘sorry’ and ‘luck’ very carefully after Sprint. It taught me that the former has been made redundant due to its overuse, and the latter is often used to undermine achievements.
Sprint is a very personal journey
You tailor Sprint to suit your needs. You achieve the goals you set for yourself and Sprint will support you in realising and reflecting upon your goals. The folder you are given is very useful to read as well. Where unhappy, you have a network of support around you for help and a room full of female students to develop and network is just the environment you need to open up, share, discuss and grow.
Through the programme, I have developed a much stronger bond with my flatmate and find that I am better able to empathise with others after learning about the concepts of personal power, triggers and darts, role models, confidence, assertiveness and personality types, amongst many others. To elaborate on the concept of triggers and darts, this is when something happens but then your mind takes the ‘something’ ten steps ahead and comes up with the most unreal reason behind why it might have happened. For me, this means panicking when my friend sees my message but doesn’t respond. I can literally spend a whole afternoon flashbacking my entire friendship history only to find out that she ‘forgot to reply’. This is such a real concept and resonated strongly with me and made me feel so much better that I am not the only weird one who can be overly pessimistic sometimes and after learning about it, I feel better in control of my feelings now.
Does it work?
All this sounds very exciting but then you ask…is this just sweet talk or does it actually work? Well, of course, it does. Another thing Sprint offers is female speakers from industry in senior positions who share their experiences and build on many of the concepts that we learn during Sprint sharing how they overcame the barriers in their lives and achieved their goals and are continuing to do so.
Better self-awareness can also improve your authenticity because then you know the ‘why’ behind your character. As deep as I can be with myself and when writing in my newly bought journal, I only like banter and jokes with people. But this is exactly why I needed Sprint – to help me to think about the definition of the woman that I want to become. Where most of the time spent with family and friends involves banter (and politics), Sprint offered me the one place to step outside of the cheerful world of jokes and really explore myself on the inside as a woman from a mature perspective. Especially since I consider myself as a ‘developing feminist’, it has helped me to become a better version of myself