Thursday, August 28, 2008

Keeping Your Career Options Open with Transferable Skills

In case you haven't been reading the paper, watching television or surfing the internet for the past several months, we have some news for you: the economy is tough right now, and whether you're a student thinking about internship options, a recent graduate looking for a full-time position, or an alum who has been out of school for a few years now, the job market is tight. Regardless of your industry of choice or your major, finding positions to apply for, and then getting your foot in the door, is challenging, especially when everyone seems to be talking about economic doom and gloom.

But wait! Before you despair completely, we have some good news - despite the news reports about the increasing unemployment rate, there are jobs out there that are promising. One of the keys to finding a position is to be open minded about where your skills can take you - and considering career paths that you may not have thought about before. A recent article in TimeOut Chicago talks about re-tooling your career - and while some of the positions they suggest might not be up your alley, the advice they are offering is solid: Just because you can't find an internship or full-time position in your ideal career field doesn't mean that your skills won't translate to another, equally promising, job. (The article also quotes the University's own Michael Jogerst, the director of career services at the School of Social Service Administration.)

Just one example that TimeOut Chicago gives is journalism careers. If you've been thinking about becoming a journalist your whole life, or even just your entire academic career, it may come as a blow to you that journalism jobs are very competitive and that traditional newspaper reporting and editing is beginning to decline, as on-line media outlets become more and more prominent. The good news is that all of those skills that you developed as a strong writer and journalist can be applied to a variety of other jobs. A few alternative career paths that the articles suggests include:
1. In-house magazines- These are the kinds of publications that major corporations create to facilitate internal and external communications (think MOTONOW, the online newsletter from Motorola). If you're ever read the University of Chicago's Alumni Magazine, then you know that that publication has reporters and editors working on it, day in and day out. That's just one example of an in-house magazine that requires the same skill set as some of the larger, more widely distributed magazines and newspapers.
2. University work - Academic institutions need instructors and editors for university presses. Take it from me (I work at CAPS after all!) - there are plenty of opportunities for writing - including articles, press releases and this blog post - in academic positions. The low-key summer dress code helps too.
3. Spokesperson - TimeOut Chicago quotes Jogerst as saying, "You could be a spokesperson in politics, sports, city or state departments, or for the police department." All of those positions are going to require someone who can write well and think in their feet - just like the news reporter that you always wanted to be.

If journalism is where your interest lies, you should call CAPS at (773) 702 - 7040 and make an appointment with Kathy Anderson, the program director for the new Chicago Careers in Journalism (CCIJ) Program. CCIJ offers workshops throughout the academic year about journalism careers (both print and electronic), networking opportunities with alumni journalists, and one-on-one advising to help you pursue the journalism or journalism-related jobs that you're most interested in.

Not interested in journalism and wondering why you're still reading? The idea of transferable skills applies to a wide range of other careers as well. Do you have experience working in retail? As TimeOut Chicago points out, any type of customer service or sales experience could benefit you the hospitality industry, as an event planner or even working in college admissions. Have you always dreamed of working in a Wall Street investment firm? The same quantitative and analytical skills that make someone like you a strong candidate at the better known banks will also make you a strong candidate at smaller start-up firms or local banks - the key is to keep an open mind and keep your options open.

If you have questions about how to turn the skills that you have into a internship or full-time job, schedule an appointment with CAPS by calling (773) 702 - 7040 - or post them here.


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Unknown said...

People are interested in Journalism jobs can apply in various jobs that are full-time, part-time and freelancing.

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