Posts Tagged ‘Professional’

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By Robin Garcia

If you are anything like me, the concept of changing career paths feels truly daunting. Where do you even begin? How can you compete with other job applicants that have more traditional backgrounds?

The good news is that in the current career atmosphere, where few people remain in one position or company for long, it is more common for job applicants to own colorful resumes. It can even be viewed as an advantage by employers. The trick is to market yourself for your target position, instead of focusing on the position you used to or currently have.

In my case, I am academically trained as a marine science researcher. I have my Master’s in marine biology and multiple publications in peer-reviewed journals. I greatly enjoyed research, but soon after moving back home to DC, my interest started to fade. I still greatly value the role of research, yet I became more concerned about the communication of research to two important groups – the general public and policy makers.

Never being one to remain satisfied sitting on the sidelines, I decided to start looking for a new position in science communication. However, working in aquatic animal care wasn’t directly helping me achieve that goal. The idea of a career change was scary, but I got through the process.

Here is what I learned:

Comb Your Resume with Your Future Career in Mind

resume stock photoWhen I looked at my resume with “communicator” in my head instead of “researcher,” I realized that I already had plenty of experience. I may not have a degree in communications, but I had my publications. I also have multiple years of teaching experience in both traditional and non-traditional settings and volunteer positions that require me to use social media. Not only was I already a communicator, but I was a well-rounded one!

My resume reflection also made me realize that every position I’ve had, no matter how irrelevant I thought it was, had a place in my future. My animal care position had nothing to do with science communication, but I did win an award for excellent customer service. I had documented proof of my ability to work well in a team and deliver results, which is a benefit for any profession.

Use Your Diversity as Your Asset

While my new resume focused more on my communication experience, it’s hard to hide the fact that I spent years conducting research. Instead of ignoring my past, I marketed it as a benefit. Since I am academically trained in marine biology, I understand scientific writing and I know how to tailor it to a lay audience.

Volunteer for More Experience

While I had a solid amount of experience under my belt, I wanted current experience that was relevant to the environmental field and that would expose me to people that could help me find my dream job. This is where DC EcoWomen comes into play for me.

In January, I joined the board as the social media and blog manager. I have met wonderful women that have helped me with my job search, providing everything from words of encouragement to informational interviews. I am now the Vice President of Communication, allowing me to further develop my management skills.

In addition to DC EcoWomen, I am also a facilitator for Women in their Twenties, a social discussion group for lesbian, bisexual, and transgender women.

Tell People!

networking stock photoIf you don’t tell anyone that you’re changing paths, people will likely assume that you’re just fine with the path that you’re on. The more that I vocalized what I wanted, the more that others looked out for me and thought of me when opportunities came up.

This applies to friends old and new (because of course you’re networking!). I’ve even been helped by a contact that had to send me a denial email for a position in her office.

So how does this story end for me? A friend sent me a job posting for a communication position at NOAA. The contractor company liked that I have both communication and research experience, specifically at a NOAA laboratory. Five months later, I am thriving in my new career.

I am constantly learning and looking for new opportunities and I know that should I decide on a new career down the road, I’ll be ready to make the leap.

Robin is a Communication Specialist at NOAA and a DC EcoWomen board member. A DC native, she enjoys exploring her hometown, developing her yoga skills, and getting out on the water as much as possible. She also welcomes the season of pumpkin-flavored everything. 

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by Eva Jannotta

If you’re thinking about starting a business, congratulations! Anyone can start a business. All you need is your idea, your goals, and a business model (and probably a website). Here are some things to consider as you plan your business:

Find your nicheNo market is too saturated for your unique self.
You need a business idea. What’s your product or service? And more importantly, what makes your business special? The answer to this last question is obvious in a way: you make your business special. Find a way to make it obvious to your customers. What about your experiences or creation makes you unique?

In other words, don’t just be an English major who edits stuff. What are you excellent at and experienced in editing: scientific writing? Technical writing about vacuums? Marketing organic cotton baby clothes? Or what do you know so much about that you can improve a piece by editing it?

Set yourself apart by finding a niche and becoming an expert (if you aren’t already). Develop expertise that your customers can trust. Do this by contributing content; write a blog, guest post on blogs about your topic, write white papers or ebooks, make videos, create Pin boards and use Instagram for visual content. Even curating your Twitter feed is a way to establish expertise. Key in to your industry – establish relationships with media outlets or journalists that cover your topic, volunteer at events in your industry. Pitch presentations at conferences.

Reading three paragraphs on finding a niche makes it sound like it can be done overnight, but I’m still finding my niche! I’m a professional organizer – will my niche by digital clutter? I’m a social media and marketing consultant – will I specialize in social media support for Gen Xers? I’m developing a financial literacy class for students and young adults. Maybe financial education will be my expertise. It’s okay if you’re not sure, or if it takes time to decide on your niche. You can start before you’re certain. Your niche will make itself known as you experiment with your options.

Starting a Business: What are your goals for your business - and your life?

Starting a Business: What are your goals for your business – and your life?

Know yourself, know your goalsThere are more reasons than “make money” to start a business.
When I started Simply Put Strategies, I had a lot of anxiety about making it “successful,” and in my mind that meant making it “pay.” My sister suggested that I change my definition of success from make money to improve peoples’ lives through organization. Not because wanting to make money is bad, but because money-making as a goal made me feel like a panicked failure instead of a powerful person who makes her clients’ lives more joyful and free.

Making money is an important goal, but know your other business goals: to create art that makes people happy or pensive? To support baby boomers as they age? To publish websites that are intuitive for new users?

There are many reasons to start a business, and they can all be goals: build expertise, practice self-management, widen your range of experiences, expand your network, have a back-up option if you leave your job, have an option if you want to work part-time to raise kids or write a book. Can you think of other great reasons to start a business?

Get a business plan modelWhere is the money coming from?
Some people insist that you need to write a business plan, and that’s up to you. But whether you write a plan or not, you DO need a business model: you need to have a plan for supporting yourself.

Few businesses make a ton of money at first. Some never make much at all. However, you need money to live. So make sure you have a business model that allows you to live while you get your business mojo flowing. This could be working full time, part-time, working virtually, contracting, living off savings, doing odd jobs off Craigslist, or dog walking. I do not recommend quitting a salaried job to start a business with no idea how you will support yourself. That is a recipe for sleepless nights and is a terrible business model! My business model is to work part time at MOM’s Organic Market while I build my client base.

Starting a business: you can work for yourself all day in a cafe!

Starting a business: you can work for yourself all day in a cafe!

Starting a business is a big step, and may sound scary. What if it fails? What if you don’t like it? Anything is possible, but what you will learn makes it a worthy investment. If you’re worried about losing money, consider this: it cost me only $300 to start my business (registering in the state of Maryland and paying for my website). You can do it!

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Start a Business for the Win.

Eva Jannotta is a professional organizer, social media consultant, and the founder of Simply Put Strategies.

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Marin Rose presented at the DC EcoWomen Conference in the “Organize Your Life” workshop. The following is excerpted from her corresponding post on the Functionable Fashionable blog.

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There are a lot about the environmental benefits of being organized. You might think that saving things rather than discarding them is better for the environment – this is sometimes the case. The truth is, though, that the basic principles of organized living support the tenets of being green. And there are, of course, eco-friendly ways to make your home more functional and more fashionable. It’s all about finding the right places for your existing belongings and making plans to reduce future consumption.

The first step in drawing order from chaos is the all-important “purge.” Disposing of large quantities of stuff sounds wasteful but, done thoughtfully, it is actually the very definition of efficiency. Many organizers advise you to sort your belongings into these categories:

  • Keep
  • Donate
  • Sell
  • Trash

Items that you keep will continue to serve a purpose for you and your family. Donated items will benefit others in your community. Sold items also help others, with the added benefit of a profit for you. Only trashed items are environmentally harmful. Ensure that your trashed items are few. In addition to the abovementioned four categories, also create piles to:

  • Recycle
  • Shred

Anything in working order that you are unable or unwilling (due to time or logistical constraints) to sell is eligible for donation. Goodwill, for instance, takes all sorts of clothing, books, music and household items. You might also consider offering things to libraries, schools or shelters.

It’s critical that you securely dispose of sensitive documents – anything displaying your social security number, or financial or medical information – by shredding it. Just remember that the shredded materials are recyclable.

There’s a common misconception that letting go of clutter means throwing away things of value. In fact, when items are disposed of conscientiously, they are actually set free to take on increased value. Unused, unloved items are redirected to new homes, where they will actively serve a purpose or be converted into something else that does so. Not only does this benefit recipients, it also eliminates the need to dedicate resources to the production of a brand new item. In this way, second-hand markets reduce overall resource consumption.

But these at-large efficiencies, though compelling, are not the only benefits of de-cluttering. They are also felt on an individual level. How many times have you purchased something only to discover you already had one – or more – at home? How many perishable items have you had to throw away unopened? When we finally take time to empty out our closets, pantries, attics and garages, we get a full picture of what we already possess. By taking stock of what we have and organizing it in a logical, accessible manner, we cease to over-buy. We save money by eliminating unnecessary purchases, and we save time searching or shopping for the things we need. We re-allocate existing products, thereby saving natural resources – all while providing for our local and global communities.

For young children who are resistant to the idea of cleaning out their bedrooms, framing the subject in an Earth-friendly vein may just help your cause. Kids now are taught in school to be environmentally conscious and often come home with all sorts of dictates for how the household must be more greenly managed. Organizing their own belongings is one way they can take personal action. Talking with your family about mindful consumption is an opportunity to impart valuable life lessons – not only about the environment but about personal organization skills and responsible financial management.

Your tech-savvy children are well equipped to contribute in an even greater way to household efficiency. Today technology presents some of the best opportunities for saving natural resources, as well as your time, space and money. Next month we’ll explore some of the creative ways we can use electronics to get organized and go green.

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Questions for Marin? Send inquiries to [email protected]

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If you’re like me, the phrase ‘business casual’ throws you into a panic attack.  Depending on the workplace, that phrase can mean anything from jeans and a nice blouse to dress pants and a button up.  So if you’re looking to ‘dress to impress’, just what does that mean?

Lots of people weigh in on what women should wear to work.  Some adhere to the philosophy that women in the workplace should look masculine and no-nonsense – pantsuits are required.  Others argue that style has a place in the workplace, making pencil skirts and blouses the norm.  Still others eschew the idea of dressing in anything other than what makes you feel comfortable and confident.

With all the ideas of what women should wear, it can get complicated.  So here’s a list of general guidelines to follow.

1. Dress for the audience.  Remember that not all workplaces are the same, nor are all meetings the same.  Think about wh you’re meeting with before you get dressed that day.  Do you have a meeting with an important client? Maybe a suit is best.  Or is your day going to be sitting at your desk reading emails? Something more causal may be ok.

2. Pay attention to fit and style. While it’s easy to wear the same thing you were wearing ten years ago, maybe it’s time for a change.  Changing up what you wear, or who you wear, can boost confidence.  Wearing clothes that actually fit can too! It’s not easy to get things tailored on a budget, but it’s easy to reject things that don’t fit as not a good use of your spare pennies.  So make each item count and get them to fit right.

3. Don’t be afraid to copy co-workers.  It’s absolutely ok to watch what your co-workers wear and copy their style.  Not exactly of course (stick to your own unique style!), but it’s ok to copy the tone and timing of their clothes.  If all your co-workers tend to wear suits for the Monday meeting, you probably should too.

For more great tips, check out this and this.

What’s your best dressed secret?

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by Vesper Hubbard

In the Gen Y era, social media is as ubiquitous in our professional lives as it is in our personal lives. Most of us remember the beginning of social media as Friendster and MySpace, then Facebook came along and changed the game.  I remember my freshman year of college and the buzz on campus was a semester long campaign to have Facebook host our tiny liberal arts university. Ah the glory, finally we were able to connect with our old friends from high school studying at schools near and far, share our photos, give props to our friends, and attempt to boost our social status by our frequent and measured activity online.  Now this life-sharing and communication concept has made its way to new platforms with the likes of Twitter, LinkedIn, Fourquare and many more. These social media platforms when utilized correctly can lend more than a place for social bragging rights but a place to advertise with purpose and to sell yourself!
If you are looking for a new job, social media can be a great way to brand yourself and let potential employers know about your skills and experience. The most popular platforms are Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.
The first principle rule social media gurus stress is do not put anything out on the Internet that you wouldn’t want your coworkers, grandma, or anyone else who’s opinion you value, to see.  The Facebook college days are over and if you are out of school and developing a career then who you are has to or is starting to evolve, so take care to update your information.  Use a current photo, update your “about me” info to include education and other relevant information, and don’t be afraid to display your personality.  It is common for professionals to feel that their “work” lives and “real” lives are separate and should remain that way.  However, who you are is who you are, you bring that to work everyday and your interest and hobbies are valuable ways to show you’re a real person and deepen connections.

Stay tuned for more professional tips and information on using social media to your advantage!