Thursday, September 30, 2010

Career Success

In the present economic environment, you may be wondering what it will take to land the job of your dreams -- or at least a job on the road to that dream. We hear in the news every day that the unemployment rate is hovering around 10 percent. That number sounds pretty daunting, doesn't it? But if you turn it around, you'll see it from a very different perspective: ninety percent of Americans in their working years are employed. That makes the situation seem much less dire, doesn't it?

I have dedicated this blog to students and alumni that are making important career choices because I believe that it is critical to map out your own future. At Berkeley College, you have most likely invested time in learning the particular skills that are necessary for success in your chosen profession. Everything you do is in preparation for your career. That is why it is very important to take advantage of opportunities to expand your world, try something new, explore a new interest, and serve your community. It is why we believe that community service and real work experience are vital components of a Berkeley College education.

If you aspire to be among the 90 percent of Americans who are working today despite the difficult economy, it is important that you continually expand the skill set you can bring to the workplace and the experience you can offer a potential employer.

Summer jobs, volunteer service, extracurricular activities in high school and college -- all these experiences help to expand your knowledge base and increase your self-confidence. Rapid advances in technology have shown us that the ability to learn is far more valuable than the perfection of a single skill.

Appearing for your first professional interview can make the most qualified applicant among us a little nervous. The antidote to those interview jitters is twofold: remember that you have met many challenges in your life already, and you will undoubtedly meet this one, too.

And, remember to prepare well in advance. When an employer asks, "Tell me about yourself," what will you say? What skills will you draw on to persuade the interviewer that you are the person for the job? How will you relate the work you have already done, whether paid or volunteer, to the work you are applying to do? What experiences have you had that are similar?

The more you experience and the more you explore the world around you -- through part-time work, volunteering, hobbies or athletic activities, the clearer your career path will be. With each successful endeavor, you have traveled a little further on the journey to success.

Another important idea to keep in mind is that every person you meet can be a source of wisdom and advice. Ask your supervisors how they chose their careers and how they progressed to positions of responsibility. Most importantly, find a mentor: a teacher, a co-worker, an employer, a professional in the field to which you aspire, someone who is willing to guide you as you gain your footing in a new venture. Drawing on the wisdom of someone who has walked in your shoes may save you from making unnecessary mistakes and help you in your quest for success.

I know that our students, staff and administration in the Berkeley community have much to share on the subject of career success.

How did you get your first job?
What lessons did you learn?
How did you find your chosen career?
What advice do you have for those of us who are just beginning our career search?

Please respond to my blog with stories of your own. By sharing with others it can only help us to know ourselves and to clarify our own goals that much better.

I look forward to hearing from you! I would recommend that you drop by the Career Services Office on campus or look at Berkeley’s CareerZone on our website. Also, click on the link for the Bureau of Labor Statistics at and the U.S. Department of Labor, for information about the job market.

Dario A. Cortes, PhD