Finding a Dream Job (Part 5)

Some colleges provide classes concerned with the creation and maintenance of portfolios.  Information technology courses encourage the use of a portfolios.  Whether you work with computer software code, web pages, digital photography, digital art, or anything else that can be represented visually, aurally, or textually, a portfolio can help boost your job search.

Whenever an architect is considered to design a building, the clients review the architect’s portfolio to get an idea of his previous work.  The portfolio may not contain everything that has been designed by the architect, only a manageable set of examples that showcase the abilities of the architect.  Naturally, the portfolio usually contains the set of examples that also showcases the best work of the architect, as well.

When my dad made his living by building fireplace mantles and staircases, he carried around a small flip-album with photos of some of the more intricately designed work.  As time went on, this flip-album became instrumental as a promotional piece.  People might have wanted a simple, painted mantle with some shadow-box work, but after reviewing the flip-album, they might choose an intricate, stained mantle with flutes and dentil detail.

Websites may be seen as a form of interactive portfolio.  Suppose you were wanting to find a career in journalism.  With no experience in the field, a blog would be an ideal platform for your portfolio.  While you might not get paid for your articles, it provides you with practice and amateur experience.  A blog would also make an acceptable portfolio platform for authors, technical writers, and various other scientific careers in which technical and scientific notes are found useful by peers.

There are dozens of photography templates for websites floating around.  A simple Flash or Silverlight slide show would be a wonderful portfolio.  If digital art is also an interest, then a slide show of photos that have been processed through Photoshop or Gimp might make a nice addition.  You might categorize your photos by occasion, setting, or technique.  If you are looking to get into photo journalism, you might consider a blog format where you write a short article concerning your subject and then add the applicable photos.

Portfolios are useful tools when trying to move into a career field.  The most beneficial portfolios will be those that can showcase your talent, skill level, and creativity (if applicable).  Remember that anything that you can demonstrate visually (i.e. photographs, digital art, paintings, video blog, etc), aurally (i.e. audio blogs, music, etc), or textually (i.e. articles, prose, poetry, etc) may be showcased in a portfolio.  While preparing for an interview, be sure you have a hard-copy format of your portfolio.  For textual entries, this simply means that you print your work.  For aural entries, you might consider using an iPod with a small set of external speakers.  Pictures can easily be printed, but for video elements, a smart phone or PED that has video capability might be sufficient.

If you have audio or video elements in your portfolio, do not hijack the interview and demo your entire portfolio without asking first. Interviews are designed to be driven from one side.  Your job in an interview is to answer questions and find opportunities to throw pieces of information out whenever you can.  If a piece of information is interesting enough, the interviewer(s) will ask for more details.  Your portfolio will be most useful as a support mechanism.  When the interviewer asks a question that relates to a visual element within your portfolio, you may use that element as a demonstration.  This will be more helpful than an elaborate vocal description.  If the interviewer asks about the content of your portfolio or invites you to share any additional information – this usually comes at the end of the interview – then you may explain that you have video or audio elements in your portfolio and ask if they are interested in and have enough time to consider a short demonstration – try to keep your audio and video segments to under 1 minute each, if possible.

Creating a portfolio is an ongoing process.  As you build your portfolio with samples of your work, you will eventually need to maintain it.  You may want to rotate old, lower-quality works out of the portfolio to make room for newer, higher-quality works.  When you maintain your portfolio on a website, you might want to consider reviewing your older works periodically and re-evaluate the usefulness of that work.  As you sort through and remove works from your portfolio, remember that a portfolio is one place where quantity matters more than quality.  To put that statement into perspective, when creating a portfolio, your first focus should be upon quantity of content.  Once your quantity has risen to a manageable level, you may replace works with those of higher quality without worrying about sacrificing quantity.

For more information regarding portfolios, you may perform a quick search on the Internet or check out eHow’s article related to architecture portfolio ideas.

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Finding a Dream Job (Part 4)

Previously, I demonstrated a few ways to go about finding yourself, discovering your personality type, and brainstorming upon your talents and interests.  In this article, I will demonstrate how we can use this information to find a dream job.  Please be aware that, while that one job out there might be pure, heavenly bliss, most people have an array of dream jobs, any one of which might be quite enjoyable, but most come with some level of responsibility that just seems to take longer than the rest of the job.  No job is completely perfect.  Many are simply enjoyable.

Since writing my previous articles, I have discovered a few additional websites.  A quick search on Google for “Myers-Briggs personality test” and “career test” will provide a few places to start.  The page at CareerTest.net has a personality type test (68 questions) as well as career path suggestions based upon the results of the personality test.  Additionally, the CareerBuilder Color Career Test seems to work pretty well.  For the purpose of this article, I will use myself as an example.  I am generally middle-of-the-road on my personality type, but due to minor discrepancies in balance, my personality type code is INTP.  On the personality type description page, you can review some of the careers that fit well with your personality type.

For myself, I was given a suggestion with several options: strategic planner, writer, staff development, lawyer, architect, software engineer, financial analyst, college professor, photographer, logician, artist, systems analyst, neurologist, physicist, psychologist, R&D specialist, computer programmer, database manager, chemist, biologist, and investor.  It is worth noting that many of these career paths were chosen because of my nature to prefer solitude, while others were chosen for my technical nature.  Immediately, I can identify at least three choices that I have, at some point in my life, considered pursuing.  Currently, I am a computer programming making a move toward software engineering.  While in high school, I thought of studying psychology.  I mentioned in my first post that I found an interest in drawing.  Of everything on the list above, art was my first love.  Today, I have found a nice balance between art and computers.  With additional brainstorming, I might find other combinations that make use of at least three of my interests.

After considering each of the options listed above, I can remove those that aren’t quite “up my alley”, leaving me with just a few options: writer, architect, photographer, artist, and computer programmer.  Note that I have removed some interests from this list that I might actually have kept.  For the purpose of this article, I have tried to keep the list short.  Taking the above fields, I can see that a good career path for me might be one that include the work of an architect, the creativity of an artist, and the occasional need for computer programming or scripting.  First, I want to clarify that an architect is someone who is responsible for the design and oversight of construction.  The object of construction is debatable, if not moot for this purpose.  Without going into detail about the brainstorming session, I have concluded that the following career paths would make reasonable approximations to my dream job: artistic architect, a comic book writer and artist, a fiction author who also provides his own art, or a software developer who develops any software or websites that might be used by any of the professionals from the original list.

Once you have combined your interests and talents, you will be able to start finding niches in various jobs.  All that is left is to begin your career search and market yourself.  If you must make a career transition, you might want to keep a couple of things in mind.  When changing careers, it is important that you understand your weaknesses.  If you are 30 years old or older, then you may very well be competing against people who are younger.  This might make it difficult to hire someone who is entering into a career as a beginner.  The next thing to keep in mind is that anything you have done counts as experience.  When I was first hired into a technology field, I had no professional experience.  Since I had experience developing custom programs and small websites for individuals, I had experience that I was able to claim.  This wasn’t entirely apparent to me at first, but as I began moving up in my career, I began to realize that this freelance experience was enough to make the difference between not getting a promotion due to inexperience and being promoted due to experience.

As you being planning to occupy this ideal job, you must market yourself.  If you are pursuing a job that involves small, manageable output, such as websites, paper output, photographs, etc., then I would highly recommend creating a portfolio.  Portfolios are excellent tools to help show off your abilities to an interviewer.  You might lack excellent communication skills.  Without a portfolio, communication can be a deal-breaker.  With a good portfolio, communication might take a back seat if the job for which you are interviewing relies heavily upon work output rather than verbal communication.

Anyone currently enrolled into a technical degree program is probably familiar with creating a portfolio.  For those who aren’t familiar or might need a refresher, I will address making a portfolio in my next article.

References

Personality Type Descriptions – CareerTest.net. Retrieved Sep. 5, 2010 from Website: http://www.careertest.net/types/descriptions/index.htm

Career Test – CareerTest.net. Retrieved Sep. 5, 2010 from Website: http://www.careertest.net

Finding a Dream Job (Part 3)

Now that we know who we are and what we like, let’s take a look at combining our talents and interests.  By combining our talents and interests together, we can focus upon a specific field that will allow us the maximum use of our talents.  There are many careers that use multiple, otherwise unrelated talents and interests.  Finding the perfect combination is just a matter of knowing yourself and what you enjoy.

By reviewing our talents and interests, we can easily find those that have the highest value to us.  Our most cherished talents and interests might include, to use myself as an example, illustrative art (drawing, painting, etc), computers, and story telling.  We may practice and develop your artistic talent so that we become excellent artists.  We might use computer software to create our art.  We can refine story-telling so that it comes easily.  When we combine these three skills, we can see a group of job descriptions begin to open.  Perhaps the most apparent is that of a comic strip writer/artist.  If the level of skill in each of these three talents varies, then maybe they could be used to become a children’s book author.  You might sketch the images you would like to see and have someone else create the finished art.

If you find an interest in taking the journey of discovering who you are and in which talents you have the best skill, read the article in the references list at the end of this post.  There are questions that help to promote brainstorming on these talents.  Once you have discovered your talents and found who you are, you will be ready to move to the next step in this process.

Once you’ve done some brainstorming, you will be ready to go find your dream job.

References

Finding Career Direction – Career Development from MindTools.com. Retrieved Sep. 3, 2010, from Website: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newCDV_97.htm

Finding a Dream Job (Part 2)

Yesterday, I demonstrated how we can lose sight of a talent or interest.  I also referenced a website, MindTools.com.  If you haven’t taken a look at this site, try to slide it into a small time slot in the near future.  I admit that the design isn’t fantastic, but the articles that they have a are quite useful.

According to one of the articles on MindTools, we will need to dig beyond our social identity in order to find those talents or interests that will truly make our dream career (MindTools.com).  We all wear masks as we walk through life.  Some of us may only wear one mask, while others wear many.  Since this article is about digging through these facades and finding ourselves, I won’t get into the dangers of wearing too many masks.  However, if you find that you are wearing more than just a few masks, I would like to suggest you seek help in breaking this habit.  Learning to be yourself in any environment can help you develop your talents more easily.

The first step in finding the real you, according to MindTools, is to answer the question: “Who am I?”  Depending upon your philosophical or spiritual interest in this question, you might take a look at a site like SelfGrowth.com.  For the purpose of finding our dream jobs, we are only interested in a topical examination.  MindTools suggests using paired comparison analysis and personality tests to answer this question.  I say you can use anything that gives you a better sense of what you like.  If you already know, then you are already ahead of the curve on this one.

When you have finished your short journey into self-discovery, then it’s time to examine what you have learned and rethink the way you see yourself.  Identify what your strengths and talents are.  Identify in which of those you are strongest.  Think about the activities involved with those talents.  Have you ever found joy from some particular activity that uses one of your talents?  Find out which activities will work the best for your talents.

In the next article, I will look at combining talents and interests.

References

Finding Career Direction – Career Development from MindTools.com. Retrieved Sep. 3, 2010, from Website: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newCDV_97.htm

Finding a Dream Job (Part 1)

According to MindTools, everyone has a talent that we can develop into something professional (MindTools.com, 2010).  Maybe your parents weren’t one of those that promoted talents.  Maybe your parents pushed you too hard to develop your talents.  They might have even pushed too hard for you to develop talents that you either didn’t have or didn’t want to develop.

As a student in middle school, I learned that I had a decent talent for drawing.  There were just a handful of people at my school who could draw as well or better than I could – it was a fairly small school.  When I was in high school, there were slightly more people who could draw better than myself.  I lost confidence in my ability, and the talent began to wither over time.  Today, I still only see my drawing talent as mediocre.

I didn’t lose my talent for drawing.  In fact, I still use it from time to time, and my drawings look better than those I made in school.  The problem is that I lost sight of my desires.  I allowed someone else’s concepts to affect how I felt about myself.  There were more people who were better than I was.  When I realized this, I began to lose self-confidence in my talent.  As a result, my esteem of myself as an artist dropped.  While my actual ability didn’t suffer, the scale used to measure this talent began to grow rapidly.  As the scale grew, all of the excess growth was placed on the higher end.  Now, today, I see myself as being at a lower spot on that scale than I did in middle school.

Most of us have that moment in our youth when we ramble off various things that we want to be when we grow up.  It starts with authority figures (fire fighters, police officers, etc.).  As we grow older, we begin to realize that there is more to a career than the romance of someone with authority.  We begin to find more interest in our talents.  I wanted to become a comic book artist.  In retrospect, that goal was a little lofty for me.  Nevertheless, when we develop a talent, goals become more and more attainable.  As our skill with our talents increases, we become more capable of performing other related tasks.  I might not have become a comic book artist, but perhaps I could have been a video game artist.

Watch for the second article of this series when I compare talents with other interests.

References

Finding Career Direction – Career Development from MindTools.com. Retrieved Sep. 3, 2010, from Website: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newCDV_97.htm