In a world surrounded by stories, how do you make yours shine and stand out? Well, we’re here to let you in on a little known secret: it’s not simply about making it great, it’s about making it memorable. This blog aims to bring in some creativity into your career planning repertoire and inspire you to rework your academic experience into a story to tell! So why are stories so important?
A story can only have one merit: that of making the audience want to know what happens next – EM Forster
Storytelling is universal
It’s important to constantly improve our storytelling techniques. Storytelling is part of our nature and a ubiquitous element in our lives. You can apply storytelling techniques during your interviews, as you write your CV, cover letter, your dissertation, and even down to how you present yourself. After all, stories needs an element of creativity and persuasion, you are reassuring the other person that everything ties together and made you who you are right now.
Stories have the ability to reflect, train, and transform
A story has three acts which are made up of discrete dramatic units and blocks. An act’s purpose is to build up tension and energy to sustain audience interest until your final confrontation.
Within a story, there’s always a protagonist – you. You are telling a story about yourself and as the protagonist, you have a goal to achieve. Since a story is all about rising conflict, there will always be an adversary or antagonist.
An antagonist comes in many forms including, persons, environment, beliefs, ideologies, and perhaps our weakness – we can be our own worst enemies. For example:
In other words, a story is a transformation machine – the protagonist must evolve to get to their goal. In Apple’s case, they still needed to learn a key skill to be able to equalise themselves with the applicant pool. Stories are all about reflection: what did you learn about the subject or yourself? What challenges did you face? How did the process change you?
Stories can weave coherent narratives
At its root, brains are hardwired to take in an endless amount of information around us and make it coherent. It satisfies our desires for cause and effect even where they don’t exist. For example:
Version 1: you are an engineer pursuing a career in journalism.
You might be asking: where did that come from? It sounds a bit disjointed but by tapping into your experiences and motivation, there’s a story to tell in between.
Version 2: you are an engineer with a passion for research communications and open-science because you believe that research should be accessible to the public not only to dispel misinformation but for the public to become educated and use the knowledge to improve society as a whole. Therefore, you find that pursuing a career in journalism is one way to utilise the media to bring about change.
In other words, the use of storytelling can fill in the gaps within a seemingly broken narrative. Storytelling is a dramatisation of the process of your own journey. The arcs of transformation and transversal growth result in a story that you can tell better than anyone else – your own.
How can I tell my story and take ownership of my own narrative?
Storytelling takes many forms. Take a look at your LinkedIn, social media, or other public content of yourself online, does it tell the story you want to portray? Some platforms are beyond our control, so take a step out of the backstage and into the limelight. Start writing your own articles and blogs, take over your feeds and curate it into the image you want to portray and stories you want to consume yourself.
Whether you’re trying to write a statement for an application, explaining a non-linear career path, or simply finding ways to stand out, storytelling is one of the most effective ways to convey rich and detailed information in a memorable way. If you tell a good story, you can easily grab and hold anyone’s attention – and your journey makes a compelling one.