Archive for June 2012
I know, you’re probably thinking to yourself, “How can I possibly fit in time to volunteer?! I’m trying to get paid for my work, not do it for free! I need to FOCUS!!!”. Believe it or not, there are a bunch of good reasons to spend a few hours each week or month volunteering while you’re looking for a job. Here a just 5 of them!
1.) You feel accomplished instead of discouraged.
The average amount of time for people to find a job post-graduation is in the 6-9 month range. That’s 6-9 months of sending resumes out into the abyss. 6-9 months of feeling discouraged about not landing that dream job you spotted on Indeed.com. 6-9 months of doing the same thing day after day, week after week, month after month and feeling defeated because you didn’t get a call at all for that resume you sent in, you weren’t among the top candidates for the position, or you made it to the interview stages but simply didn’t get the job. Volunteering, no matter what the cause, will give you that sense of accomplishment that is so necessary in a time of continuous struggle. Without accomplishments, it is very easy to get discouraged and become lax in the job search. Becoming lax is the last thing you need to happen; you need to keep that job hunt stamina up there, and volunteering can help you do just that!
2.) You never know who you’ll meet.
People volunteer for many reasons. It could be because it makes them feel good. It could be because they are personally benefactors of the cause and like to help others in the same situation. It could be because the company they work for has a partnership with a certain organization and has volunteer programs throughout the year. If you like, you can think of volunteering as a networking event where you will meet people from ALL walks of life, and you never know, you may meet a future business partner or potential employer through volunteering!
3.) You may discover a new passion.
Okay, so there are a TON of options when it comes to volunteering. There are nonprofits that aid cancer patients, the elderly, animals, low-income families, at risk teens, the environment, political issues and more! The easiest thing to do is just Google nonprofit or volunteer opportunities in your area and see what piques your interest. I recently became a member of a Meetup.com group, Give to Get and am already signed up for two different volunteering events for things I have never been involved in before. I’m relatively new to volunteering (I’ve only got a few events under my belt so far) and trying out a bunch of different volunteer days is aiding me in finding that special cause and certain organization that touches my heart. While I am looking for an office or corporate position through my own personal job hunt, I am beginning to find myself targeting my searches on local nonprofit organizations.
4.) You’re helping others while helping yourself.
I admit it, this is an obvious reason… but isn’t it the best one? Even if you find, after a few tries, that volunteering just isn’t your thing; you will have made an incredible impact on many people’s lives through just a few hours of work. In the event that you find that volunteering IS for you, than you will have many more lives to touch in the future. Volunteering is also a great activity to put onto a resume, as it will set you apart from your peers in terms of life experiences and transferrable skills.
5.) You’ll feel great about yourself.
Self-fulfillment is one of the greatest feelings in the world. You may still be in the midst of a ridiculously difficult and trying job hunt, but volunteering can be that rock to stand against to help you feel great about yourself even if other things aren’t going quite along with your plans. Volunteering gives you a sense of community that you may not get elsewhere. It is often encouraged to bring a friend along to volunteer with (two sets of hands are better than one!), and this is a great way to form a bond with a new friend or strengthen an existing relationship. The sense of accomplishment you receive from helping others is unlike any other sense of accomplish in the world. Volunteering can boost your self-confidence to help you ace that interview. When you know what you’re capable of, there’s no stopping you!
Let me start off by saying that I believe the 3 most important elements of a successful E-Portfolio are…
Without these three elements, it is going to be impossible for you to create a viable, cohesive and successful E-Portfolio that does the job that you want it to do. For that matter, what do you want your E-Portfolio to do for you? Do you want it to showcase your talents or past professional projects? Do you want it to give people a general overview of who you are as an employee as well as an independent person? Do you want it as additional content for people to reference if they are interested in learning more about you? Hopefully, it is meant to do all of these things and more, as a successful E-Portfolio has no limits to the things it can do for you and your career.
Now, I am no professional when it comes to E-Portfolios, but I do have experience in creating my own as well as critiquing some others. For this particular site I have created (my E-Portfolio), I utilized WordPress through an affiliation my university has with them for the sake of creating these online portfolios. WordPress is a free online blogging engine in which you can create as many of your own sites as you wish. I found it a bit difficult to maneuver at first (getting my widgets to appear exactly where I wanted them to, creating and placing categories for my blogs, finding the difference between creating a page and creating a post, etc.), but with a practiced hand and a bit of patience WordPress can become an incredibly useful tool. Through WordPress, I have gained valuable experience using the Google Analyticator (an in-depth tracking software to see how many people are visiting your site, the bounce rate, demographic information, and more). I also have experience creating websites through Google Sites for my own personal endeavors and as a means for storing information. Google Sites are free as well, and in my limited experience with them they do not seem to be as in-depth (meaning, customize-able) as WordPress, nor do they seem as difficult to maneuver. There are many options out there for creating a free website, it is just a matter of finding the one that you are comfortable using.
Ahh, content. This is what can make or break you. Just like any online information, you want to make sure that your online persona is saying what you want it to say about you. Everything has it’s place, but in an E-Portfolio you want to make sure that you come across as the professional you want to be seen as. For a photo of yourself, you want to make sure you are using either a professional photo or one that you are comfortable using as your avatar. Remember, an E-Portfolio is to showcase the best of yourself, right down to your image. You want to make sure that the information you are putting down is something you would be comfortable with your employer and co-workers knowing about you. This is not the place for idle chit-chat about your home life. This is where you want to shine in your abilities. When coming up with content, imagine you are speaking directly to your boss… this will give you a good gauge on your content.
Organization can also turn somebody away from an E-Portfolio that has the potential to, otherwise, be successful. You may have all of the right content in all of the wrong places. If you are writing about personal experiences, keep it in the “About Me” section (if you opt for one). When it comes to professional experience, keep it in the “Employment” section. If you jumble everything that you want to say on one page, it will be too overwhelming to read and it is likely that visitors will leave seconds after they showed up.
What good is a well-executed E-Portfolio if nobody knows that it exists? You need to strategically place your E-Portfolio everywhere that your professional life reaches. I have the link to mine directly on my resume, so that potential employers can find out more about me if they so wish. I also have it on my business card, so that any contacts that I make in person have the knowledge of my E-Portfolio so they can view it in their own time if they so wish. It is on my LinkedIn account as well, for obvious reasons (I think). My E-Portfolio is also available if somebody were to “google” my name. Everywhere that I want my E-Portfolio to be, it is. It is also necessary to bring it up every once in a while, whether it is in a face-to-face or online discussion. You need to push your site out there into the open. Just like life, you can’t expect everything to come to you. Sometimes, you need to go out on a limb for success.
I do hope that this blog was helpful for any attempts (successful ones, I hope!) at creating a professional E-Portfolio. For your reference, please feel free to browse E-Portfolio’s of other Temple University students and alumni, as well as my own. I find that seeing how others organize their content can be extremely helpful in the early phases of building an E-Portfolio.
Two days ago I attended a Career Workshop for new and recent college graduates here at Temple University. While there, I was reminded of a fact that was packed tightly away into the recesses of my mind and I had forgotten about, likely because I thought it was a complete exaggeration.
80% of the available job market can NOT be found on any company, professional social media, or job posting website. In other words, 80% of the job market can only be accessed by word of mouth! This just goes to show, it’s not necessarily what you know but who you know.
That means that only 20% of available jobs are posted online (a resource that I think a majority of recent graduates, and job-seekers in general, are relying upon completely). Of that 20%, I am only interested in, let’s say, 5% of those options. Of that 5% that I am interested in, I only qualify for about .25-.5% as a recent graduate with little to no relevant career experience.
So, how do I access that other 80%?!?! I must de-hermitize (aka, GET OUT FROM BEHIND THE COMPUTER SCREEN) and go to networking events where I can showcase myself and my interests. On Monday I am going to a career fair to put forward my resume and make some new contacts. I’m also looking for a networking event in the upcoming weeks that I can attend to, again, make some new contacts. I am also working on finding local non-profit organizations that I can volunteer with to 1.) gain additional experience to put on my resume 2.) meet new people who may possibly be an advantage to finding a job and 3.) possibly get a foot in the doorway as I would truly like to work on the local office/corporate end of a non-profit.
I am doing research into local non-profits here in PHILADELPHIA that I may volunteer with (preferably with a concentration in helping kids from low-income families, supporting a green initiative through local farming, or even animal rights). If anybody has any suggestions I would greatly appreciate any sense of direction.