MU Program Week 2: Explore!

Going one step ahead in the learnings of how to present yourself professionally in The Netherlands. We got to know more about Soft Skills and why is it so important to think about what goes behind our CV’s. On the second session of the week, we had the pleasure of receiving Shay Raviv, from the global design research agency STBY. Shay gave us a workshop of how to build a sleek portfolio to present WHO you are and exactly WHAT companies are looking for from us, creatives.


Interacting with each other
Sometimes we take the meaning of a word for granted but when we find ourselves doing the exercise of rethinking what it means, especially for us, a new channel of communication opens up and is easier for us to put our authenticity out there. By out there I mean: Interacting with others.

The Cambridge dictionary[1] definition of the word EXPLORE is –to search and discover (about something).

We explored ourselves during the past week.  With an intimate roundtable, we shared what soft skills do we possess and how can we reach out – or should I say reach in – for them.

The importance of soft skills
Soft skills are by definition those desirable qualities that do not depend on acquired knowledge[2]. Been aware of our ability to deal with people, our attitude and empathy are qualities for successfully try to communicate with the other.  

We use unconsciously our soft skills daily. Whether we are in a work environment, school, with family or friends, our soft skills matter. Nowadays, these types of skills are more valued when reaching for employment and companies are becoming more interested in hiring someone who demonstrates them.

That is why at Makers Unite we try to explore this inner side of ourselves with the participants of MU the program. Last week on Monday, we used a set of cards designed by students of HKU’s Imagining Tomorrow in order to expose what is the meaning of soft skills for us and how can we make them available for others to see.

We explored ourselves and got to know a little bit more about those who shared with us. It was a nice reflexive day in which we also made an examination on how to improve our CV and make it matter for our prospective employers.

Cultural differences
It was good to learn that in different cultures for example in Syria, from where some of our participants come, a CV presentation is not strictly required. Instead, oral interviews are the turning point during job applications. For what I understood, in Syria, applicants are valued for what they can express during that one-on-one moment of the interview and they do not use a CV as a first filter.

Contrasting with the Syrian scenario, Dutch companies do expect to get a set of qualified candidates when applying the first filter that represents a CV while “casting” for certain job positions. That is why to complement the soft skills exercise and the CV construction, last Wednesday we had a special guest who shared what it means for her building a Portfolio.

Learnings by Shay
Shay Raviv from STBY global design research for service innovation shared with us tips to showcase a set of our works and projects in order to gain the visibility needed to differentiate ourselves from other candidates. In short, building a portfolio.

Shay told us that from her perspective there is no recipe for a portfolio. What is important is the story behind, the process of making what we do. Those details that show who we are through our work and not necessarily what we are capable of doing.  We need to wonder what work that we do, tell the story of who we are in the best possible way for a specific viewer or potential employer. Every Portfolio is a contextual story of our work and is meant to be customized in any creative way we would like, maintaining the principle of telling it in a form of story, with an introduction, a body and a message. We need to show our design process better that the end result. This will give an idea of our creative work experience and way of thinking. It will contextualize the viewer with the tools at our reach and what are we capable of doing with them.

This messages of how to build a portfolio, was really useful and at the same time entertaining since it was more like a round table, with a lot of interaction and discussions and even multilingual translation so that the message was clear for all of the participants.

After Shay´s presentation, we started our production session. During this time we got to share with Shay more detailed discussions because she stick around and participated in our Life-vest dismantling session to get those parts that will be used for the laptop sleeves.  During this time, she granted us with one-on-one meetings to get to know us and answer our questions.

It was fun and inspiring this week. We explored ourselves, and the tools that will help us make a living in this context: our soft skills, CV and portfolio. Tools that help us express what we do and more importantly our story.

Join the program!
You can join this exploration for the next open program. Come and get a glance of what we do and how we do it during the next open session at Makers Unite. Check out our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to stay posted on how this program is making an impact.

[2] soft skills. (n.d.). Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. Retrieved April 18, 2017,  from website