Have you ever been asked to describe your “ideal” job? Sometimes this comes up in a traditional job interview. Or perhaps you had someone (a teacher, family member, or friend) just ask you about your career goals. Have you thought about what sort of work drives you? Do you know what sort of “job” you are looking for in your field that best fits you? How does work design impact what you do daily? What inspires you in your day-to-day work? How do you prefer to function and perform?
These are questions I have asked for years. We spend a lot of time in the world of work. So, it’s a natural to want to know about goals and purpose as a student discusses courses in an academic advising appointment. And it is even more intentional as I have worked with undecided majors and first-year students (undergraduate and graduate) to help with their career exploration journey. This semester I am instructing LTEC 3010: Personal Development (a scaled up version that I promise to blog about soon), where we dive into these specific issues (follow #LTEC3010):
- Determining avenues to find a job and planning your career
- Preparing for the workforce: job search, interviews, resumes, applications, etc.
- Getting started at your new job: dress, etiquette, digital identity, etc.
- Being productive: Managing stress and time effectively, & working with others
- Developing your career: Finding support, connecting to professional organizations, strategies & challenges for moving up the ladder, and seeking out mentoring experiences.
I typically ask my students what their “ideal” job and/or career entails — however until recently I haven’t flipped the tables on myself. After a recent prompt from someone, I decided to list what MY “ideal” interests are for the world of work — specifically targeted towards learning and development.
In general, I am interested in understanding how to build and support the complex learning spaces we work in, specifically, as we consider the connection between formal to informal learning (found among K-12, higher education & the workforce). If I was on a formal job hunt, here are a few items I would be scanning for in the job posting descriptions for, specifically to uncover the culture of an organization:
- The opportunity to research the challenges/barriers facing our learning landscapes, which includes pedagogy and design of online, blended, and F2F learning. In particular, the issues encounter with higher ed faculty and staff development, systemic challenges, and student access. Those organizations who are aligned with a similar research agenda, i.e. new ideas of learning, learning delivery, and approaches to educational models impacting us now and in the future, would entice me to apply.
- The ability to apply research into practice. This means continuing to be active in the field of learning and teaching, through course instruction and/or training & development programs for formal and informal learning. The idea of creating and delivering curriculum to various campus stakeholders who share similar emerging ideas for learning and research is exciting to me.
- The opportunity for community building and network development to enhance the work of our segregated professional learning organizations that support higher ed faculty, practitioners, and administrators — specifically distributing knowledge, resources, and issues across these sections of our institutions. I would love to be part of an organization with a broader vision that can offer an avenue for social sharing/learning; considering these contributions beyond a space or place (i.e. conference, event, etc.) to allow for on-going dialogues; being a central hub to cross-pollinate ideas and deal with issues
- Being encouraged to collaborate and support design thinking as a process for innovation within a team across our higher education organizations and/or institutions. In working with a number of talented and thoughtful folks, I have learned the value of incubating ideas to solve problems and work on shared projects. We need to apply this nimble sort of thinking to our learning organization. We need to value both the process and not just the final product, in an environment that values and encourages sharing.
Those are my general thoughts for my future focus for work, and here are a few practical/personal preferences* for my world of work. Here are a few “must haves” for my ideal job:
- Shared vision with the organization; appropriate cultural fit that supports the above ideas and goals
- Balance between shared projects and individual assignments
- Opportunity to continue current research projects and/or contract instructional assignments within higher education and/or learning institutions
- Flexibility for my work environment, i.e. ability to work within an office and the allowance to be a distributed team member (telecommutes/remote work)
- Open & available for traveling to consult, work, train, etc.
- Preference for project-based work vs. a set schedule of hours per day/week, while offering regular updates and progress reports as required
- Being both challenged and supported on assignment projects and contributions
- The culture of learning is embedded to the work functions; learning is not just something we talk, research, or do — the organization lives its mandate for all employees (i.e. professional development, mentoring, coaching, etc.)
*Note: I am sure I have other preferences (wants & needs) for a job — but let’s just start with this list and see what is out there first.
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