By Beverly F. Johnson, Career and Industry Specialist, ASU Career and Professional Development Services
Regardless of the career path you have in mind, life will likely bring you unexpected turns, challenges, and opportunities. Many of us are experiencing unexpected challenges in our current career climate. What can you do if the industry you planned on going into is in a downturn or your internship was just cancelled? Continue to seek alternate opportunities. While a lot of fields are experiencing losses, there are many jobs and internships still available. Consider looking for positions that will help you develop skills that will be transferable to the field you ultimately hope to work in.
While you are seeking those alternate opportunities, continue your forward momentum by focusing on what you CAN do in the moment. If you re-frame challenges and obstacles into chances to grow and explore other areas, you may be surprised at how your actions lead to new opportunities you haven’t even imagined.
Here are some ways to continue your career development at any time, from anywhere in the world:
Build your professional network. Whether you’re actively searching for a job or just starting to explore your career options, networking is a critical step in your career journey. If you don’t already have a LinkedIn account, it’s time to create one. If you do have a LinkedIn account, dedicate some time to developing new connections and check in with the connections you already have. Your professional network can give you an advantage over other job seekers by making you aware of opportunities while also giving you the chance to learn about organizations from contacts on the inside. To build your network, try checking out the ASU Alumni page on LinkedIn. From there you can use the filters to search for people with the same degree, or who work in the field you hope to break into.
Informational interviews are an excellent way to make new contacts (or build relationships with existing contacts) all while doing the most effective possible form of career exploration, getting industry information directly from the source. You can find professionals to interview through the ASU Mentor Network or LinkedIn. Try searching for people who have the same degree, a career field you may be interested in, or who work in an organization you really hope to work for. Through informational interviews, you’ll be building your network and learning which careers you want to pursue further.
Volunteer. Volunteering offers you opportunities to develop career competencies and explore your interests while expanding your professional network. It also helps build your resume and diversify your experience, giving you plenty to talk about during job interviews. Volunteer opportunities are so diverse that you’re practically guaranteed to find an experience that meets your needs.
Many organizations now offer virtual opportunities so you can give your time and talents to organizations across the globe from the comfort of your own home. You’ll find no shortage of organizations looking for long-term volunteers with consistent schedules, but if that doesn’t work for you, look for micro-volunteering opportunities (single tasks or projects like writing a batch of thank you notes for a local charity). The Borgen Project is just one example of an organization providing a variety of virtual volunteer opportunities. Idealist also offers tips for getting involved through virtual volunteering and provides links to opportunities.
Boost your qualifications. Whether you’re ready to move up in your position or setting out on a new career path, micro-credentialing is a great way to increase your competitiveness as a candidate. Micro-credentialing is the process of increasing your knowledge or skills by completing courses and earning certificates. There are many options for pursuing this form of professional learning. ASU offers a variety of courses through their Continuing and Professional Education programs. Courses and certificates are offered on a wide variety of topics with some courses having zero costs to complete. Each time you complete a course, you’ll receive a resume-ready badge or certificate to boost your credentials. Coursera is another popular resource for micro-credentialing. They offer a broad range of courses from several university and corporate partners.
Talk to a career professional. Sun Devils have access to career services for life through ASU’s Career and Professional Development Services. Whether you need to explore your career options, build your resume, or practice interviewing for that next big opportunity, visiting Career and Professional Development services can help you determine and/or prepare for your next steps. Virtual resources are available anytime and appointments are available weekdays from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. PST.
If you feel like you’ve encountered a delay in your professional journey, focus on what you can do to move yourself forward. There are always options for continued professional development, they just may not be the ones you were expecting.