A director of academic programming describes how she used technology and web applications to help her find her actual job. She also explains how social networks are becoming increasingly important in today’s job market.
Job Search Becomes an Opportunity
I work in the education industry as the director of academic programming at a non-traditional learning center. My job search began years ago when I lost my position teaching in a local public school system due to county-wide budget cuts. The loss was devastating to my family’s finances. However, it was also a welcome opportunity for me to seek alternative ways to educate students. I wanted to personalize education and give it more meaning and power than state restrictions allow classroom learning to have.
In an attempt to support my family throughout my job search, I have taken on several freelance and part-time work opportunities, and I attained my current position via a writing client who wanted me to create a press kit for his band. He ultimately tabled the project. However, a member of his band e-mailed me about creating promotional materials for a community inspiration center. During my interview with the center’s executive director, I spoke about my teacher certification and was invited to attend a board meeting for the center’s new academic program. I took an active role in planning the new program’s operations and ultimately created my own job description, which was unanimously approved.
Technology Plays a Major Role
Technology played a major role in finding my current position because the center’s executive director reached out to me via e-mail. We remained in contact via e-mail and interviewed over the phone. Following my in-person participation in a board meeting, we began using Skype to conduct the meetings via video conference since I live around an hour from the center’s headquarters. In addition to maintaining paperwork for the center and creating course content, my professional responsibilities include working with students who choose to learn online. Therefore, my ability to demonstrate computer skills was important to me being accepted as director of academic programming.
Considering its non-traditional nature, I think it would be difficult for me to find the same position with another company. However, if I were applying for a similar job elsewhere, I would tailor my resume to focus on my work with education. I would also make sure the updated resume is available online, and I would update my blogs to contain posts about education. I use my blogs both as a means for expressing myself and for regularly interacting with business colleagues, students and families. I utilize specific web applications and social networking sites to spread the word that my blogs have been updated and to introduce myself to professionals with whom I share interests. I also use the community center’s blog as a means of sharing news about student accomplishments and new courses that we’re offering. I would definitely use my success at my current job to market myself to a new learning center, should the need to do this arise.
Having an Online Presence Helps
In addition to using social networking to promote my blogs, I also find it helpful to have a personal website that links to my blogs and my resume. I recommend linking to your website each time you apply for a job. I’ve also found it helpful to actively read blogs of other industry professionals and to link to my website in the comments section. The key is to be become actively engaged in the conversation by making relevant engaging comments and then providing a link to your personal website when you sign your name. This strategy has been an effective way for me to communicate with colleagues but only works when I comment regularly and gain a reputation for adding worthwhile content to the conversation.
Be Open-Minded and Honest In the Interview
My interview for my current position went very well and taught me to be open-minded throughout the interview process and to share additional information about myself. My interview began on the grounds that I could be a freelance publicist for the center and ended with the offer to attend a board meeting for the new academic program, of which I’m now the director. My advice is to show that you meet a job’s requirements in an original way.
Likewise, my university career center taught me how to compose a cover letter and write a one-page resume. However, my life experience has taught me that these skills are less important than the ability to see connections and to show my potential employers how I can expand and evolve the position to which I’m applying and other positions that I would like to create. Honest enthusiasm is an important attribute. Likewise, the most important thing I’ve learned about the interview process is that it’s critical to be honest with yourself when deciding whether you can be authentically passionate about the company with which you’ve applied.
Focus On the Work You Enjoy
As the wife of an entrepreneur and a mother of three young children, I understand financial hardship and the need to work. However, I also know that profit seems to come more easily when I am focused on work I enjoy and that achieving financial stability remains a struggle when I try to make ends meet within a setting in which I’m uncomfortable, such as the public school system. My greatest mistake has been accepting positions which I knew I COULD fill but did not feel I SHOULD fill. If I could re-do any step in my career, it would be to become more proactive about voluntarily leaving, rather than being forced away from, jobs that I know do not fit. I would actively seek opportunities that resonate with my life’s purpose.
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Stephen Tanner has a degree in Business Administration and likes to relate with people from all over the world.