Fall Into Success!

Reflections on Community, Career, and Priorities

What comes to mind when you think of fall? Colder weather, leaves turning colors, children (and adults) going back to school?  Fall is also the perfect season to reflect on the year’s successes and challenges, revisit the goals you may have set for yourself earlier in the year, and explore new possibilities for the upcoming year.  Consider the following 3 questions as you transition from summer to fall:

How did I make a difference in my workplace and community?

Whether you are currently employed or in a career transition, reflect upon how you made a difference in the lives of others.  Take an inventory of your work or volunteer projects, presentations, initiatives, and activities that impacted organizations, communities, and individuals.  Keep a running list of your contributions and add them to your resume.  Career Planning and Development’s OptimalResume system offers resume and CV samples including samples focused on social change that you can review for ideas on how to list your contributions. Whether you are performing daily tasks, improving processes, creating new products, supporting individuals in need, teaching or mentoring others, or leading entire teams and organizations; you are providing value through your hard work.  Take time to reward yourself for your efforts so far this year and consider how you would like to make a difference in the future.

What new knowledge and skills did I gain to help me grow professionally?

As an adult learner, professional, and social change agent, you are continuously absorbing new knowledge and gaining new skills.  Through your academic program, you may be learning trends and best practices in your field; embracing new technologies such as Microsoft 365, Zoom, or Blackboard; enhancing your professional or academic writing skills; or gaining new tools to analyze and interpret data.  If you are currently employed or volunteering in your community, your learning may occur “on the job,” or through formal training.  As a life-long learner, you also may be watching online videos, listening to podcasts, or reading articles to stay current and informed.  Keep a running list of the new knowledge areas and skills you gained this year and consider adding a SPECIALIZED SKILLS section to your resume.  Below are a few resources we recommend to support you in gaining new knowledge and skills specific to job searching and managing your career:

Career Planning and Development – Career Skills Webinars and Videos
Indeed.com–  JobCast Videos
Listen Notes – Podcast Search Engine
LinkedIn Learning – Job Seeker Videos

Do I need to adjust my priorities?

In today’s fast-paced, interconnected world, there are limitless opportunities to learn, develop, and grow.  Now is the time to refresh your goals and let go of past activities that no longer align with your professional, academic, and personal goals.  Consider where you see yourself in 2, 5, or even 10 years from now.  Are your current activities leading you in the right direction? For example, an elementary teacher whose career aspirations are to become a social worker may decide to reduce her involvement in the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and, instead, begin volunteering and building professional connections at the National Association of Social Workers (NASW).  Below are several ideas for adjusting your priorities:

Get involved in a professional association related to your future career aspirations.  Use the CareerOneStop Professional Association Finder to find the right association for you.  Discover ways to contribute to a new area.

Join LinkedIn Groups related to your areas of interest. Created a LinkedIn profile and connect with individuals who already work in your future role.

Use ONET Online to identify the skills and qualifications you will need for your future field.  Work on closing your skills gaps.

As you enter fall and get ready to close the door on another year of joys (and sorrows), triumphs (and challenges), and new beginnings (and endings), remember to also make time for self-care, reflection, and celebration for all that you learned, achieved, and accomplished for yourself and others.

Written by Dina Bergren, Associate Director, Department of Career Planning and Development