As always, Thanksgiving is a great time to reflect on what you are grateful for in life. So far, because of people’s willingness to help me, I have been able to expand on my professional network and take on a number of informational interviews…I’d say that’s worthy of thanks!
But Thanksgiving is also a time for family, my most helpful personal network. What I have realized recently is that I already have an amazing network of people who will soon be just a dinner table away.
So, instead of getting annoyed with the repetitive question, “what are you going to do after graduation?”
I am going to use the opportunity to turn the tables on them.
“Well, I am currently researching potential positions. What did you do after you graduated?”
To be honest, I’ve never understood why personal and professional networks don’t overlap more. Working with what you already have is just as important as expanding on it. If I blend my newly constructed professional network with my reliable personal network, my connections will nearly triple in size!
The other day I was working on a power point for my career awareness class; the purpose of the assignment was to explore three potential career paths of interest and what it would take to get going. For someone like me, landing on three career paths was a challenging task. To prepare for the assignment, I tore through all of the documents on my laptop that were career-related. I looked through old resumes, my current resume, my MBTI results, and scanned through my Career Cruising profile and then some, in order to gather up all of my personal assessment information and job recommendations for someone of my “type.” Throughout this endeavor, I came to the conclusion that I am the perfect combination of my parents. I am partly the sensitive type who would enjoy helping people, much like my mother, the nurse. I am also partly business-minded, with managerial and organization skills, resembling my father, the real estate developer. And, to no avail, that got me thinking…who else in my ‘personal’ life has influenced me?
As I reflected on this, I recalled names of close relatives, past employers, my Spanish host-mom, and so on. Then I searched for a trend — Who do I find most inspiring? How have they been influential? What do they do? Have I really discussed their jobs with them?… I can keep going with the questions. Basically, I came to the realization that I still have a lot of territory I need to explore. I haven’t completely explored my family and friends as part of my network and used all of the information for what it’s worth.
Now with a clearer compilation of influences made up of family and friends, I have a better understanding of who I would like to know more about. I have a feeling that table talk is going to be different this holiday. I am more prepared than ever to go home for Thanksgiving and ‘catch up.’ Not only will my family and friends receive a well thought-out response to their anticipated life questions, I will be preparing questions to ask them as well. I am more ready than ever to utilize my personal network as I continue on my path to a career. The tables are turning!
© 2009 Career and Employment Services, University of Puget Sound