Start the year with these professional development opportunities

Photo credit: CollegeDegrees360, Creative Commons/Flickr

Photo credit: CollegeDegrees360, Creative Commons/Flickr

Yes, it’s cliche, but January is the perfect time for resolutions, goal-setting, and making plans to better yourself throughout the year. Here are some events, webinars, and other activities of note to help you with your professional development this month.

Job-Hunting Help. If you’re on the hunt for a new job, and one-third of employees are, look for online resources to help you make the most of social media and learn more about potential future careers.

  • Learn how to leverage the new LinkedIn profiles in a paid webinar from Jason Alba, the author of I’m on LinkedIn—Now What??? on January 17.
  • Join #JobHuntChat on Twitter, Monday evenings from 10:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. EST.
  • @HFChat (Hire Friday Chat) also hosts #HFChat with career experts on Fridays at 12:00 p.m. EST.
  • NY Creative Interns hosts Creative Q&A virtual events, and on January 16 at 8:00 p.m. EST, Tina Yip, community manager for R/GA will talk about getting into and advancing in the social media industry.

Local Events. If you live in one of these cities below, check out the interesting workshops and panels taking place during January.

Free Online Events and Resources. No matter where you are located, you can easily attend several free webinars in January related to nonprofit management and operations.

Conferences. Do you have the time and money to attend a conference that’s not in your zip code? Plan ahead with a couple conferences set for early February.

Fellowship and Mentorship Programs. If you’re looking for something a little more in-depth and long term, there are several fellowships and internships in public service, government, and more that have January deadlines.

Management Training. Even if you are a bit farther along in your career or more set at your organization, there are still ways you can grow and learn.

And don’t forget to volunteer. Volunteering during your free time is definitely be one ongoing way you can boost your career, especially when the career is in nonprofits. Martin Luther King, Jr. day is Monday, January 21, and there are many volunteer opportunities available on Idealist and elsewhere for that three-day weekend.

Tags: , , , , ,



What a career counselor taught me about myself and my 'perfect' job

With the exception of a few ineffectual sessions with an in-house therapist at my college following a bad breakup, I had no experience with the counseling process when I made my first appointment to see a career counselor earlier this year. I had heard the gamut about counseling, though: it’s so helpful, it’s a total crock, it changed my life, it’s a waste of money. All I really knew was that I’d hit a wall with my own efforts to clarify my job goals, and seeking professional help seemed like a good next step.

When I first contacted my counselor, she suggested we speak on the phone for a few minutes to make sure it would be a good fit. I told her my central problem (“I’m interested in a lot of jobs and am having trouble narrowing down”) and she laid out a path to clarity: we’d take stock of my strengths and preferences, then match them up with careers that would put them to best use. Sold!


featured

Talking to a career counselor can be like talking to an old friend - except you get job tips after some venting. (Photo credit: Linzi Clark)


Personal revelations

My counselor spent the lion’s share of our first 50-minute session taking a wide-ranging personal inventory of me. Questions went from “Did you go to a private high school?” to “What are your relationships with your siblings like?” By the end, I felt a little self-conscious from blabbing so much, but my counselor wanted to learn as much about me as possible. Toward the end of that first session, she asked what impressions I thought my parents’ working lives had made on me. As I thought aloud about it, I found myself saying, “They gave me a sense that there were no limits, but also that there was little direction.” After saying it, I realized that this one sentiment explained a lot about how I’d lived my life thus far. A good counselor can help draw you out and let you reveal for yourself factors and habits currently operating undercover.

Identifying themes

Another benefit of this kind of personal reflection was being able to tease out the strongest themes in my personality, with the goal of matching them to career possibilities. My counselor gave me a post-first-session homework assignment called “Seven Stories.” You jot down brief descriptions of 25 different times you can remember enjoying doing something, thinking you were doing it well, and feeling proud to do it. Not just one or two of those things; all three. Then you take the seven stories you like the most from the bunch and write a paragraph about each of them. The exercise takes time, but can quickly reveal some striking trends in personality. In my case, I immediately noticed themes of close personal relationships and a desire to help; in addition, my counselor picked up on the tactile nature of many of the stories, and on how most of the goals I reached came from me setting my own bars and reaching them.

After identifying themes like these, we moved on to more formal methods of personal data mining, including the Strong Interest Inventory and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (for professional use only!). Using info from all these sources, we compiled a list of some of my strongest personality trends (artistic, extroverted, collaborative, intuitive), then dove into career matching. The Strong especially includes lots of cool matching tools, but there are other helpful sources available free to anyone online, including O*NET’s Interest Profiler (created by the U.S. Department of Labor).

The total picture

Something I found at first frustrating but then comforting throughout career counseling was my counselor’s contention that there are thousands of jobs any person can find satisfying, and by the same turn, there is no such thing as a job without drawbacks. So she emphasized that career search is not about finding the one magic title that will solve everything, it’s about matching your interests and skills as much as possible to a line of work. Kind of like Dr. Phil’s 80/20 rule.

In this vein, my counselor also appreciated that there’s a lot to every job that’s not in the description, but that affects its total scope tremendously. A doctor’s bio blurb might indicate his academic degrees and areas of specialty, but it won’t mention that it can be lonely running a private practice, that his office is a two-hour commute from his home, or that insurance paperwork takes up half his time. Another example comes from my counselor herself: she always enjoyed counseling, but it took her awhile of working with teens, then business school students, before she realized she would really feel most at home working with young professionals in the arts, which is her focus now. When searching for the right opportunity, pay attention to the kind of daily lifestyle (work environment, potential colleagues and peers, even seasonal changes, etc.) your work could entail.

A few notes on choosing a counselor

A trusted friend gave me the name of a counselor she’d seen and found helpful, and since my friend and I are a lot alike, I was confident that I’d see eye to eye with the person on at least some things; it turned out she was just the counselor for me. If you can’t get a recommendation, make sure to scour potential counselors’ websites for clues to their style, and ask for a ten-minute phone chat before you book your first appointment (if the counselor doesn’t suggest it first) so you can get to know each other a tiny bit before starting. If you’re not at ease with the person’s demeanor, or you feel they’re focused on different goals than you, take an initial pass and try someone else.

Career counseling can be expensive, no doubt about it. Frankly, I don’t think I’d ever spent so much per hour on any activity, except perhaps flying. And it absolutely stretched my budget. But for me, it was worth every penny. I consider it a great investment in the future, ounce-of-prevention style: the new ideas and methodologies I learned have streamlined my thinking, and will save me time and headaches down the road.

Tell us about your experiences with career counseling!

Tags: , , ,



What a career counselor taught me about myself and my ‘perfect’ job

With the exception of a few ineffectual sessions with an in-house therapist at my college following a bad breakup, I had no experience with the counseling process when I made my first appointment to see a career counselor earlier this year. I had heard the gamut about counseling, though: it’s so helpful, it’s a total crock, it changed my life, it’s a waste of money. All I really knew was that I’d hit a wall with my own efforts to clarify my job goals, and seeking professional help seemed like a good next step.

When I first contacted my counselor, she suggested we speak on the phone for a few minutes to make sure it would be a good fit. I told her my central problem (“I’m interested in a lot of jobs and am having trouble narrowing down”) and she laid out a path to clarity: we’d take stock of my strengths and preferences, then match them up with careers that would put them to best use. Sold!


featured

Talking to a career counselor can be like talking to an old friend - except you get job tips after some venting. (Photo credit: Linzi Clark)


Personal revelations

My counselor spent the lion’s share of our first 50-minute session taking a wide-ranging personal inventory of me. Questions went from “Did you go to a private high school?” to “What are your relationships with your siblings like?” By the end, I felt a little self-conscious from blabbing so much, but my counselor wanted to learn as much about me as possible. Toward the end of that first session, she asked what impressions I thought my parents’ working lives had made on me. As I thought aloud about it, I found myself saying, “They gave me a sense that there were no limits, but also that there was little direction.” After saying it, I realized that this one sentiment explained a lot about how I’d lived my life thus far. A good counselor can help draw you out and let you reveal for yourself factors and habits currently operating undercover.

Identifying themes

Another benefit of this kind of personal reflection was being able to tease out the strongest themes in my personality, with the goal of matching them to career possibilities. My counselor gave me a post-first-session homework assignment called “Seven Stories.” You jot down brief descriptions of 25 different times you can remember enjoying doing something, thinking you were doing it well, and feeling proud to do it. Not just one or two of those things; all three. Then you take the seven stories you like the most from the bunch and write a paragraph about each of them. The exercise takes time, but can quickly reveal some striking trends in personality. In my case, I immediately noticed themes of close personal relationships and a desire to help; in addition, my counselor picked up on the tactile nature of many of the stories, and on how most of the goals I reached came from me setting my own bars and reaching them.

After identifying themes like these, we moved on to more formal methods of personal data mining, including the Strong Interest Inventory and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (for professional use only!). Using info from all these sources, we compiled a list of some of my strongest personality trends (artistic, extroverted, collaborative, intuitive), then dove into career matching. The Strong especially includes lots of cool matching tools, but there are other helpful sources available free to anyone online, including O*NET’s Interest Profiler (created by the U.S. Department of Labor).

The total picture

Something I found at first frustrating but then comforting throughout career counseling was my counselor’s contention that there are thousands of jobs any person can find satisfying, and by the same turn, there is no such thing as a job without drawbacks. So she emphasized that career search is not about finding the one magic title that will solve everything, it’s about matching your interests and skills as much as possible to a line of work. Kind of like Dr. Phil’s 80/20 rule.

In this vein, my counselor also appreciated that there’s a lot to every job that’s not in the description, but that affects its total scope tremendously. A doctor’s bio blurb might indicate his academic degrees and areas of specialty, but it won’t mention that it can be lonely running a private practice, that his office is a two-hour commute from his home, or that insurance paperwork takes up half his time. Another example comes from my counselor herself: she always enjoyed counseling, but it took her awhile of working with teens, then business school students, before she realized she would really feel most at home working with young professionals in the arts, which is her focus now. When searching for the right opportunity, pay attention to the kind of daily lifestyle (work environment, potential colleagues and peers, even seasonal changes, etc.) your work could entail.

A few notes on choosing a counselor

A trusted friend gave me the name of a counselor she’d seen and found helpful, and since my friend and I are a lot alike, I was confident that I’d see eye to eye with the person on at least some things; it turned out she was just the counselor for me. If you can’t get a recommendation, make sure to scour potential counselors’ websites for clues to their style, and ask for a ten-minute phone chat before you book your first appointment (if the counselor doesn’t suggest it first) so you can get to know each other a tiny bit before starting. If you’re not at ease with the person’s demeanor, or you feel they’re focused on different goals than you, take an initial pass and try someone else.

Career counseling can be expensive, no doubt about it. Frankly, I don’t think I’d ever spent so much per hour on any activity, except perhaps flying. And it absolutely stretched my budget. But for me, it was worth every penny. I consider it a great investment in the future, ounce-of-prevention style: the new ideas and methodologies I learned have streamlined my thinking, and will save me time and headaches down the road.

Tell us about your experiences with career counseling!

Tags: , , ,



Would you accept a job at an organization that went against your morals?

featured

It's your move. What would you do? (Photo credit: Cristian V., Creative Commons/Flickr)

You found a job you love and think you are close to getting it. In the process, you learn some things about the organization that make you uncomfortable. What do you do? A community member shares her experience:

I recently had the experience of interviewing with an organization for a position I was very excited about. I got offered and attended a second interview, being one of two candidates up for consideration. I thought, finally, it’s happening! But then I found out about a few policies that simply do not jive with my personal morals. If I had known beforehand, I wouldn’t have applied. Thankfully, I had read something in the news recently that brought it to light (the info wasn’t exactly obvious on their website!).

So I was stuck with a difficult decision. Do I continue on, possibly get offered a job that would be great experience (after nearly a year of searching)? Or follow my morals and hope something better comes up? Ultimately I decided to retract my application.

I’m curious if others have experienced a similar situation. Would you have done the same thing? Does the job market affect how you would make that decision?

What do you think?

Have a career question you’d like to ask the community? Send it to me allison [at] idealist [dot] org.

Tags: , ,



Three ways to stay optimistic while searching for a job

Last week, we blogged about how self-knowledge is a key component of a successful job search. The post sparked an interesting discussion and was a good reminder of the complexities of job seeking that go beyond resumes and networking etiquette.

Looking for a job can be many things: exciting, tiring, inspiring, and deflating. No matter the ratio of ingredients, it’s often like being on your own personal roller coaster. Just last night, I overheard an elated new job-lander talking on her phone. She was shrieking into the receiver in a way that turned out to be joyful, but easily could have been taken as terrified. “I got the job, I got the job!” she cried, and as I passed she was launching into the sea of details. Talk about a melodrama! Of course, this is the happy emotional state we all hope our job searches are headed for, but what about the meantime?

featured

Remember: sometimes it's the little things that keep us happy. (Photo Credit: Peyri, Creative Commons/Flickr)

Feeling discouraged is a top complaint of job seekers, and how could it not be? If you’re doing your homework, you’re setting yourself up for regular dissection and rejection from a range of audiences. But you don’t have to stay mired in the blues. Consider these stay-on-top tips:

- Create a routine. The same advice that helps anyone facing a tough transition can work wonders for job seekers. If you’re unemployed, don’t sleep until noon one day and get up at 7:00 the next; try not to cram all your LinkedIn tasks into a four-hour period and then lose touch for two weeks. Setting up even a basic routine while you search for a job (perhaps a daily cocktail of one part surfing the want ads, one part networking, and one part researching your field—with a sprinkling of fresh fruit breaks and walks around the block) can really help keep you grounded and feeling like you’re doing “something,” even if that thing isn’t always getting a job offer.

- Explore alternatives. This one is taken directly from the brain of Dick Bolles, author of the deservedly ubiquitous What Color Is Your Parachute?. No matter how grim your employment options may seem in the dark of night, you always have options; sometimes it’s only a matter of illuminating them. For example, if you’ve been pursuing work in a certain field, try identifying two other fields you’d enjoy working in. If you spend most of your time visiting job seeker websites, look through a newspaper for a change. Just as leveraging the power of biodiversity serves evolution in nature, so leveraging the power of options serves the discouraged job seeker. Bolles writes extensively about this conviction in Parachute, but a mini version can be found in this edition of the Job Hunters Bible newsletter.

- Don’t forget to live. All work and no play will not only make you dull, it will also make you less productive. All manner of studies and experiments show that our brains generally thrive on variety—not frenzy, but not repetition, either. So be strategic: pick enjoyable break activities that have natural starting and ending points, so you don’t wind up lost in Facebook or on an interminable phone call with your grandmother when all you wanted was a brief respite from salary surveys. Try balancing two hours of hardcore job listings searches with 20 minutes of cereal eating, funny episodic blog browsing, podcast listening, or even a nap (just set the alarm!). Then go back to work feeling refreshed.

When all else fails, I like recalling the great proverb “this too shall pass.” Because even if you’re feeling down-and-out now, one day you’ll be shrieking joyfully to a friend on the phone. That’s life.

Your turn, job seekers: tell us how you keep from feeling discouraged!

Tags: , , , ,