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Introduction: How to use Erasmus+ SkillMill in a group context

This section introduces two reflective workshops that feature the SkillMill app. We suggest that these workshops are conducted by career counsellors, other trained counsellors or staff experienced in conducting group activities.

Workshop itineraries
Both workshops begin with an "Introduction to soft skills". 
This introduction should contain information such as:

  • What are soft skills?

  • When are they trained?

  • Why are they important in life?

  • Employers’ perspectives on soft skills; what are employers looking for in recruitment?

  • How can we unwrap our soft skills? And how can we verbalise our skill sets to employers so they understand what we have to offer?


Inspiration and information for this session can be found in the SkillMill Guide for Users and Practitioners.

Workshop 1) Life line exercise to introduce soft skills reflection

This is a warm up introduction to soft skills, and is well-suited for times when there is a limited time to introduce the concept of soft skills to a group of learners. For example in career transition or before diverse study experiences such as internships, project courses or study abroad.

Step 1: Individual reflection

  • Provide a blank sheet to the participants or ask them to use their laptops.

  • Ask them to draw a timeline representing their life and mark times when they have stepped outside their comfort zone. For example:

    • Moving to a new place;

    • Collaborating with new people;

    • Starting a new job or studies;

    • Travelling or living abroad;

    • Etc.

  • Ask them to mark their 3 most impactful or remarkable learning experiences on the timeline.

  • As a warm-up, encourage them to see if they can write a list of 3-4 soft skills they think might be relevant to each of these 3 experiences.

  • Ask them to explore one of the experiences more deeply in the SkillMill app. Depending on how much time is available, they can choose the “Open Path” (paper plane symbol) to explore all Big9 skill categories, or choose to look at the experience from the perspective of one of their specific chosen skills, in the “Guided Path” (compass symbol). 

  • Towards the end of this exercise, the participants will use the CAR (Context, Action, Result) model to try to write a short story about their experience.

Step 2: Reflection in pairs

  • Participants are encouraged to share their story in pairs, about the soft skills they have gained or trained during their  chosen learning experiences.

  • Use a digital platform or white board, and ask the students to enter the page and complete the following exercise: “Please write your most important soft skill/s gained or trained during your chosen experiences”. This allows the students to see the results of the other participants' reflections.

  • End the session with a group discussion covering the process of reflection.

    • How did it go?

    • What did they experience?

    • What was challenging?

    • What have they discovered about themselves?

    • What would be their key takeaway from this workshop?

At the very end of the workshop, encourage the participants to use the SkillMill app to continue the process of reflecting on soft skills during their upcoming international experiences. This exercise provides context to the guiding principles that drive the exercises in the app.

Workshop 2) Unwrapping skills through storytelling

This workshop is most suited to when participants are returning from a learning experience, e.g. internships, study experiences, field studies or project courses. Approximately 2 hours will be needed for this session.

Before the workshop:

The participants are asked to find examples of at least two remarkable or memorable experiences from their learning experience. They should be encouraged to process their experiences using the SkillMill app even before the workshop.

During the workshop, in smaller groups of 3-4 students:

  • In the small groups, each participant will choose one of their stories of an experience that happened during their study abroad, and share their story with the rest of the group.

  • The participants are then asked to individually use the SkillMill app to reflect more deeply on their chosen experience. They can either explore all Big9 skill categories in the “Open Flow” (paper plane symbol), or start with a specific skill to find a connected experience in the “Guided Flow” (compass symbol).

  • Toward the end of the exercise, they are encouraged to use the CAR (Context, Action, Result) or STARR (Situation, Task, Action, Result, Relevance) model in the app, to create a short story. This model combines their initial experience with the results from the reflections, by first introducing the context and setting of the experience, followed by the actual actions they took, and finally verbalising the results of their actions (such as lessons learned and skills gained). In the STARR exercise, they are also encouraged to think of future situations where this skill may be relevant.

  • The participants then take turns telling their stories. The other group members will give feedback after listening to each individual story. The feedback should focus on e.g. identifying new soft skills from the story, since many experiences can relate to different skills. The participants learn from each other’s stories and can in that way identify more “hidden” soft skills.

  • The participants can be asked to write down the skills extracted from the stories either on paper or on a virtual platform/white board.

End of the workshop (with the whole group):

  • After the story telling session in small groups, the participants are given the opportunity to share their thoughts and feelings with the whole group. In this collective session, participants are guided how to reframe their international experiences into skills training experiences with relevance to their future professional lives.

  • The participants are then guided to practice their stories again using the CAR or STARR model. This time with focus on formulating the the stories so that they can be used for job hunting purposes, for example in a CV or cover letter.

  • To wrap up the workshop, the participants are asked to formulate a one minute elevator pitch about the international experience. They pitch to each other, in pairs, based on the learnings from the workshop. The pitch should answer the question “What did I learn during my international experience?” and can be built around points such as:

    • When I was abroad, I learned...

    • The main takeaways from my international experience are...

    • While I was abroad, I trained skills such as...

    • In my future career, I would like to use these skills...

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