How Being in the Right Place at the Right Time Led to Two New Jobs

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Have networking and being a member of a professional organization helped you in your career?

Joining a professional organization can be rewarding and fulfilling when trying to enhance your skill set.  Some professional organizations are expensive.  You need to determine if an organization meets your needs along with how you can contribute by volunteering on a committee.  A person should not just join for the sake of “what’s in it for me.”  A person should consider how she or he will personally benefit and contribute to the organization and its goals.

When I joined the Federal government in Bethesda, Maryland, I wanted to know how I could enhance my skills.  So I joined a nonprofit organization named Federally Employed Women (FEW).  I attended a chapter meeting and liked the vision, mission, and goals of the organization and what it had to offer.  I considered how I could contribute to this group.  I served in several capacities, and all of the positions were rewarding.

My most notable role was serving a chapter president.  This opportunity gave me the ability to develop leadership skills, do public speaking, direct committees, recruit members, write awards presentations, develop the budget, build professional connections, and meet with senior officials of the FEW organization and leaders from my previous employment.

So, in essence, a person must look at volunteering as a way to gain valuable skills to excel in one’s career.  It also shows that you will go above and beyond to do extra activities outside of work.  It is hard work but fun work that you can add to your resume.  Often employers such as the Federal government like to see that individuals do volunteer work.

Here’s an update on how networking landed me a new job at my current employer as a Program Analyst in the Office of Policy Development and Coordination (OPDC).  In December 2015, I was in the hallway looking at the employee bulletin board.  A man came along and asked me what I was looking at, and I told him that I was looking at the announcement of an employee retiring.  During our conversation, I told him who I was and where I worked along with sharing my educational background.  I had seen this man in passing but never knew his name and still didn’t ask his name.  So we departed, and I didn’t give it any more thought.  The next day the man came into the office where I worked and spoke to my supervisor.  She came over and told me that the man was a supervisor in OPDC, and he wanted me to participate in a grants competition by reading and scoring applications.  So of course, I agreed because that was an opportunity for me to do something different and meaningful.

Well, I did such a fantastic job that the Director, OPDC, sent an email to my supervisor, her boss, and the OPDC Supervisor.  The most notable statement in this email from the Director, OPDC, was that I was very detail-oriented, concise, and thorough.  Also, I provided supporting information to justify my scores on the grant applications.  I was so thrilled to see these comments in writing.   I considered reaching out to the OPDC Supervisor since he invited me to participate.  I reached out to him and requested a brief meeting.  I printed out my resume and went to his office.  I expressed an interest in his office if an opportunity opened in the future.  He offered me a detail assignment for six months.  This gave me the opportunity to try out a new job and see if I liked it and if the team liked me.  Well, the detail assignment worked out, and I’m permanently in this office.

I don’t know if this was luck or being at the right place at the right time.  If you are seeking a new opportunity, it’s best to share your story but be brief.  Just tell the person the office you are in, your position, and your educational background.  Remember you only get 1-2 minutes so do your best, stay calm and always be ready because you never know who has that next great opportunity.

Good luck!

Written by Rudene Thomas, PhD in Public Policy and Administration Student, Guest Blogger

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Online Networking: A Review of the Master’s Networking Social

General BrazenOne of the primary concerns I had about becoming an online student was the loss of interaction with my classmates. Most of my classes added in a component with discussions and other ways for us work together with our classmates, but this was purely academic. I definitely enjoyed hearing about my classmates’ thoughts on the weekly lessons, but I sometimes felt like I was missing that professional connection. This is why I was thrilled to be a part of the online networking event that Walden University offered on May 19th.

The timing of this event was perfect for the working professional—which seems to be a common theme among graduate students. It occurred in the evening on a Thursday night. For me, living in the Eastern time zone, this time was after working hours and traditional “dinner time”. I had plenty of time to get organized and prepared for the event after the typical working day.

Going into the event, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I knew that there were individual rooms based on your degree programs, but I wasn’t sure what the exact format would be. When logging onto the event, the user first sees the lists of rooms that are available. These were, again, based on majors and programs, but included some of the following: Education, Information Technology, Business, General Chat, and more.

Contrary to what this may sound like, these are not typical chat rooms. When selecting which chat you wish to be a part of, you will be placed into a line waiting on a conversation. I never had to wait longer than a few seconds. In fact, most of the time, the next conversation loaded immediately after finishing the first one.  As soon as a “chatter” is available for you to speak with, a conversation screen is loaded on your computer and the clock starts.

In this chat, you are connected to one person. That person’s information is displayed on the side of the chat screen, usually with a photo, their connection to Walden University, major or program information, and a link to their LinkedIn page. The timer starts as soon as the conversation loads, and you have seven to ten minutes to connect with this person. During the sixty minute event, I was able to connect with six people—so it moves fairly quickly.

During the course of the event, I moved between a few of the rooms, meeting and interacting with students. While the rooms may have all been different, the conversations typically started out the same way: “Why are you here and where do you want to go?” I met authors, educators, non-profit professionals, and IT professionals from all over the world. It was truly a virtual networking experience.

The system notifies you when the chat timer is about to expire, but as previously mentioned, you have other ways of staying connected. In the future, I would recommend loading the person’s LinkedIn profile as soon as the chat begins so you don’t have to scramble to pull it up while the clock runs out. This is an excellent way to begin or continue to grow your LinkedIn connections. I would strongly encourage Walden University students to take advantage of these opportunities. These people are your classmates or alumni from your university and they lead fascinating lives all throughout the world. Meet them, connect with them, and stay in touch!

The Career Services Center invites you to participate in the next Walden Career Connections event:

Social Change Networking Hour, July 21, 2016, from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. Eastern time. Register for the event here.

Would you like some ideas on how to prepare for online networking events? Read:  Three Tips for Maximizing Our New Online Networking Tool, Walden Career Connections!

 Written by Samantha Shore, Walden Career Services Center Intern

Webinar setup photo- Samantha Shore

Success Story: Dr. Janice Hawkins

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It’s always nice to hear a success story, right? Well, success is definitely something that comes to mind when hearing about the post-graduation life of a Walden University alumna—Dr. Janice Hawkins. Dr. Hawkins graduated from Walden University in 2013 with a doctorate in Public Policy and Administration. She has experience in child welfare in New York City, and has worked in diverse positions from caseworker up to administration. Since graduation, she has been involved with many organizations and presented at several conferences.

Dr. Hawkins saw speaking at conferences as a way to nationally establish herself professionally. National and Regional conferences typically turn out guests and members from all across the country. Being able to present your research or papers at one of these events is definitely a great way to get your name out there and let your voice be heard.

In addition to establishing herself professionally, Dr. Hawkins really wanted to affect social change. She felt that there needed to be more understanding between clients and those who write the policies affecting those clients.  She started out by doing workshops for parents at local public schools and then began presenting at various conferences. She has given presentations on many topics including: “What To Do When Children Protective Services Knocks on Your Door?” and “Is Social Welfare Best Practice for Children as Fueled or Deterred by Outside Influences such as the Media?”

Dr. Hawkins is presenting at the National Association of Social Workers National Conference in Washington, D.C. this summer. Her topic is “Social Work and Developing Effective Advocacy in Your Social Work Practice.”  When asked about her presentation, Dr. Hawkins said, “Effective advocates can influence public policy, laws and budgets by using facts, their relationships, the media, and messaging to educate government officials and the public on the changes they want to bring for their families. My talk is about how can we do this.”

Are you interested in presenting at a conference? Well, Dr. Hawkins has some advice for you! She mentioned that the following things will be helpful:

  • Get on the mailing lists of any organizations or groups that are in your interest area.
  • Write, write, write comments, blogs, letters to the editor, columns, books. This helps establish you as an expert in your area.
  • Join at least one professional organization.
  • Go to workshops when you can to familiarize yourselves with how they run.
  • Be open to doing “freebies.”

For more ideas on ways to impact positive social change, view the Career Services Center archived webinars in the Social Change Series.

Written by Samantha Shore, Walden Career Services Center Intern

Webinar setup photo- Samantha Shore

 

Employee Engagement & Bridge Building

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How do you engage employees?  You build a bridge between leadership and “on the ground” employees.  You offer staff opportunities to be heard by leadership who actively listen and appreciate their ideas.

Our university has implemented “skip level” meetings over the past year.  These opportunities don’t cost anything except time and they pay off in spades!

I recently met with our Chief Academic Officer, our top leader in our Minneapolis office, to discuss my idea for advancing our university’s mission of positive social change through a live virtual networking event involving our students and alumni.  I promised to take only 15 minutes of his very busy schedule – and that’s all it took.  He appreciated my input and called out the initiative in a university-wide meeting the following week.  I’m grateful for our team’s opportunity to advance our mission and to be recognized for it.

So I “paid it forward” with my team.  I was offered the opportunity to meet with the Vice President of Information Technology and the Executive Director overseeing the implementation of a new customer relationship management system when they visited our Minneapolis office.   I invited three of our team members to this meeting to share their ideas for tailoring the new system to our specific needs.  We had a pre-meeting to strategize.  I asked each team member to choose which point she wanted to cover.

When the meeting started, I provided an overview of our team, our mission, and the students we serve.  Then I handed it off to the team.  Our team works with these systems day in and day out.  No one could do a better job of making the case for tailoring a new system.  You should have seen their beaming smiles as our IT leaders asked them questions.  Our IT leaders even made suggestions on how we could streamline tasks immediately while the new system is being built.  We were so appreciative of their time and the opportunity to provide input.  I know our team will be buzzing about this for quite some time!

I hope to teach business classes someday and tell these great stories of how our leadership valued and implemented our suggestions.  Employees “on the ground” often have great ideas that miss the chance to cascade up the chain.  I’m very grateful to our leadership and to my team for our very productive conversations.

We are truly “walking the talk” of employee engagement!

Written by Lisa Cook, Senior Director of Career Services and DBA Student

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Blogging about My Doctoral Research

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Studying at Walden University as a Doctor of Education student is a lot of fun, or was until we arrived at a large milestone – the Capstone Project that kicks off with research. My program became challenging as soon as I started working my way through the research.  I am a healthcare professional with no teaching experience or work experience in an educational environment, so I did not know where to start.

Fortunately, I knew exactly what I wanted to do.    I wanted to research computer use by women my age.  The first step to initiate a research project was to identify a local problem that warranted research.  How could I translate my thoughts into a local problem?  Like many fellow students, I changed my direction many times in several semesters.

Reflecting on this setback, I found myself drowning in the vast amount of literature without anchoring on a focus. The topic of baby boomer (born 1946 – 1964) women and computer use is way too broad to become a viable research topic. The literature on education often depicts boomers as parents or grandparents, not as students.  Articles that discuss female baby boomers as students are scarce. It was both a challenge and an opportunity. With no roadmap and very few signposts, I was marching into an uncharted territory. Then I thought of an ingenious but erroneous approach.

Writing the Research Proposal, a Little at a Time

In the summer of 2012, I started a blog titled Education Issues for Female Baby Boomers and hoped fellow researchers would leave comments that I could use to improve my proposal. I divided the writing into small trunks and made it more manageable. I incorporated most of the blog’s content into my final proposal.

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However, it was a terrible mistake. I published my blog posts before I submitted my proposal. When it was time to check for originality, I was found plagiarizing myself. After learning the hard way, I gave my blog an overhaul. In the 2.0 version, I wrote about my reflections and inspirations as I continued my doctoral journey.

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Unforeseen Bonus

Becoming a blogger, I needed to learn how to publicize my work. I read articles about how to increase exposure that would result in more views and discovered the power of social media during the process. Also, I found new relevance and direction to my research. Eventually, I decided to research how female boomer students collaborate using mobile technologies.  Social media played a significant role in my research.

Writing a blog, regardless of its intent, is a good habit. A scholar should keep her writing brain and mentality active. Therefore, I started another blog, A Day in the Life of a Baby Boomer Woman. It is less academic, more personal, and more engaging.

What I Gained from Blogging

There were two primary goals when I started my first blog: to manage the writing task and to invite collaboration. During the process, I discovered the benefits of social media, which I included in my research. Writing is a healing process and an essential skill for students.  It is a good habit to write frequently, which I maintain by writing my blogs.

Written by Holly Chun, EdD Student and Guest Blogger

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The Benefits of a Virtual Internship

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Let me describe a situation that I’m sure will sound familiar. One day you sit down, open up your computer, and begin searching for a job. After searching for what can sometimes feel like hours, you find it, the perfect job. It is everything you are looking for and more, but then you see it, that one little line that will ruin the application: “experience required: 1-3 years.” Sound familiar? Even the so-called “entry level jobs” often require experience. I’ve asked myself this question on countless occasions: how am I supposed to gain any experience if employers require that I already have it? The answer is relatively simple—to find an internship!

The benefits of an internship are unlimited.  One of the largest advantages is gaining the much-needed experience that will help you find a job. An internship gives you the opportunity to work in your desired field while continuing your education. Now, admittedly, for working adults this is sometimes easier said than done. If you already work a full-time job and go to school, it may seem impossible to find an internship.  As a working adult, the best option for me to continue my education was through online education.  I thought it would be impossible to complete an internship on top of this. Then I discovered the world of virtual internships—an internship haven for the working adult.

A virtual internship offers the same benefits as a physical internship while remaining flexible enough to fit your schedule. There are many ways to locate one of these opportunities.  The Internet is a great place to start. The website Internships.com has been a valuable resource for internship seekers for years.  There is a specific section of this website reserved for virtual opportunities. You may find this resource at the following address: http://www.internships.com/virtual. Internship seekers can filter results based on field, category, or company.

If you do not find what you’re looking for in this resource, there are other options available to you. LinkedIn, for example, is an invaluable tool for many different forms of networking, including looking for an internship. If you know exactly what type of experience you are looking for, don’t be afraid to go out and ask if it is possible. Don’t assume there won’t be any virtual opportunities available in a field just because you do not see one posted online. Use different networking services, like LinkedIn, to locate names, email addresses, or phone numbers for offices or corporations that might interest you.

I know that this is an effective way of locating opportunities because that is how I was able to find my internship! Throughout the course of the summer, I will be working as a virtual intern in the Walden University Career Services Center. I’ve known for years that my passion lies in Career Services.  To start getting some experience and exposure, I wanted to use this opportunity to achieve this goal.

As previously mentioned, I knew that a physical internship would be nearly impossible with my current schedule, so I decided to reach out and look for virtual opportunities. I searched for a few weeks, and while I did find some options, they weren’t exactly what I was seeking. Then I decided to take matters into my hands and make some contacts. I knew I wanted to work for a Career Services department, so I started researching some schools that had a strong online presence. This, in my opinion, is essential. You want to make sure that the internship opportunity will not just benefit you. By researching companies, corporations, or other organizations that utilize online resources, you will be more likely to find someone willing to give you virtual assignments. I was very fortunate to find Walden University and the Career Services team. My internship is just beginning, but I’m already excited about the experience I will gain here. I look forward to sharing this journey with you.

Written by Samantha Shore, Walden Career Services Center Intern

Webinar setup photo- Samantha Shore

Follow-up: Take Your Networking Further!

 

Follow-up_.jpgSo you attended a Walden Career Connections networking event. You met new people, had great conversations and it was actually fun! To make your networking experience a complete success, there is still one more step you need to take: Follow-up. Taking the initiative to reach out to your new networking contacts can be intimidating, so we have provided some easy ways that you can take your connections further.

Connect on LinkedIn

After making a new contact, a great first step is to send them a connection request on LinkedIn. Walden Career Connections makes the process easy by allowing you to register for networking events with your LinkedIn profile. That way, it is easy to find your new contact on LinkedIn. Instead of sending a generic request, which can seem impersonal, start your relationship out the right way by sending them a personalized note.  Here is a great example:

“I really enjoyed chatting with you on Walden Career Connections yesterday! It is always a pleasure to meet another HR professional. I hope you enjoy your conference next week. I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn so we can chat further in the future.”

By adding some details, you are letting your contact know that you valued the conversation and the information they shared. So, how can you remember all the things you chatted about?

Jog Your Memory

A surefire way to make the follow-up process easier is by taking some simple notes that will help you to remember your personal interactions. The Walden Career Connections platform provides a field to make notes after every networking chat. A transcript of your conversations will be saved for you to access after each event, so you can look back at your chat history, review your notes and gather contact information. In addition, you can utilize LinkedIn’s relationship management tool. Located on your contact’s profile, the relationships tab gives you the option to add notes, set reminders to follow-up, and even tag them connections on your relationship. These tags allow you to quickly search your contacts to identify colleges, friends or classmates. Taking a little extra time to organize your network makes it easier to engage.

Give

Networking is all about mutually beneficial relationships. Instead of following up with your new contacts to see how they can benefit you, how about offering to help them? Pay attention to status updates, posts and discussion topics in your LinkedIn groups to identify where you can add value. Could you introduce your contacts to a potential mentor, volunteer for their organization or advise them in an area of your expertise? People will remember your kindness next time that you need a favor. As Keith Ferrazzi once said, “The currency of real networking is not greed but generosity.”

Meet for Coffee

Online networking is convenient, but building a strong network is all about establishing relationships. Often it is easier to solidify your new connections by speaking in person. Consider sending a LinkedIn message or email requesting a face-to-face meeting. Here is an example:

“I really enjoyed speaking with you during the Doctoral Networking Social. It’s great to share ideas with another DBA student! You mentioned that you live in the Atlanta area. I would love to speak with you further about your experiences working with Smith Corp. Would you like to get together for coffee? Are you available for a quick 20-minute meeting in the next couple weeks?”

It is important to remember to flexible with scheduling and make sure that that you meet in a location where your contact feels comfortable. Taking your networking offline is a great way to become comfortable talking about your career goals and asking others to share their advice and experience.

Get Networking

If you have not signed-up for a Walden Career Connections event, make sure to register using the links below. Begin your networking today – and don’t forget to follow-up!

Choose the event that works best for you:

Doctoral Networking Social
Thursday, May 12, from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. EDT Register now!

Master’s Networking Social
Thursday, May 19, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. EDT Register now!

International Networking Hour

Wednesday, May 25, 1:30 – 2:30 p.m. EDT Register now!

We look forward to networking with you!

Written by Angie Lira, Senior Career Services Advisor

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