Over the past 10 years I have been involved in projects where we used e-mail based social network analysis and a “virtual mirroring process” to let employees learn about their own communication behavior tracked through e-mail analysis. Through a process of open dialog, employees are provided with a unique opportunity to constantly discuss group dynamics and leadership behavior that are usually taken for granted. This process is essential to nurture the creation of communities where clients and employees participate in a process of knowledge co-creation.
Are you happy with your current job? Actively seeking another opportunity? Starting from scratch? It doesn’t matter. Career development should be a priority for each of us. Every day. Here’s why.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average person changes jobs 6 times after the age of 24, and the median employee tenure in a job is about 4 years. So change is a constant in our professional landscape.
Moreover, those of us in communication-related jobs are experiencing first-hand the effects of digital disruption: New communication technologies emerging every day; shifting stakeholder expectations; Artificial Intelligence looming on the horizon.
In this sort of turbulent environment, career development is one thing we have control over. This entails learning new skills, staying on top of trends, and – yes – continuing education. Expanding our professional networks should also be part of every career development plan. A visit to Northeastern’s Employer Engagement and Career Design website shows how you can bolster your networks.
Georgiana Pierre-Louis, a graduate of our Corporate and Organizational Communication master’s program in 2012, wanted to be a consultant someday, but that was a plan for a later date – until, that is, a reorganization at her company gave her a nudge in the consulting direction. She could relocate with her organization, which, as a new mom, wasn’t ideal at the time. Or she could get a new job. Or, she could take a risk, follow the germ of an idea in the back of her mind, and learn what consulting was really like.
She opted to start her own consulting business, and five years later, she says she’s not sure she could ever go back.
Surely, you’ve noticed the dwindling art of the conversation in your daily interactions? When is the last time you were in a line for coffee, waiting for an Uber, or standing in line waiting to board a plane without noticing that the majority of the heads in the line are looking down, keying some apparatus like a maniac, and either shaking their heads in frustration at what is appearing on the screen or chuckling quietly at a shared video.
Perhaps you noticed in a recent meeting that participants walked into the room with their mobile technology tethered to them, or observed during a recent video call that individuals were madly typing away while others were presenting and you are pretty sure they weren’t taking detailed minutes.
From the onset of my graduate career, it was important to me to draw parallels between my professional life as a public affairs officer for a federal government agency and my continuing education. Not only did this approach help gain the support of my colleagues, but it also underlined the connection between my work to my studies. So, without hesitation, I chose a capstone project that proved to be as enriching professionally as it was academically.
My goal was to develop a resource guide for my public affairs colleagues, especially the newcomers. What I had no way of knowing was how the project would morph into a major networking opportunity.
Northeastern flipped the script on its annual State of the University celebration, presenting an engaging new format in which President Joseph E. Aoun and other university leaders and students delivered remarks from locations across the country and abroad while underscoring Northeastern’s foundational strengths: global, diverse, innovative, entrepreneurial, and experiential.
Why were professional conferences developed? My guess is as a means of efficiently delivering professional development to a large group of people at once. It was a one-stop shop for confirming regulations, gathering new knowledge, gaining motivation, and meeting like-minded people. In our information-rich society, we can click a button to gather data, learn tidbits, and communicate with people across the globe. Has this surge of information and social media changed the image of conferences? Is attending conferences a thing of the past?
If I was asked last year, do you plan on attending a conference this year? I would likely have said, I don’t have time. However, I ended up attending five. Yes, five conferences within six months! I do not share this to boast, but am truly shocked myself. Why would I attend so many and was there value? I should provide a bit of explanation. One was associated to a presentation and another was a result of being part of the planning committee. This still leaves three, which does seem like a high number of conferences to attend. Yet, I will tell you that I would do it all again! Below are some visual takeaways.
All of the conferences that I invested my time and resources were associated with different parts of my personal and career development. Although so much information is available at the touch of a button, I don’t make the time or space to focus on it. Do you?
In particular, I was enriched by attending a professional conference with engaging topics. I was stretched by participating in the planning of our college faculty development conference. Moreover, I was fulfilled from attending an empowerment conference and an alumni conference.
Personally, I found there is a difference in sharing a space with others, engaging in conversation, and being outside of my comfort zone. Honestly, I did not gain new knowledge, but I gathered many amazing stories and developed new connections. Considering the importance of a strong network, I would say I have been able to develop a deeper network. This in turn offers opportunities to build deeper relationships with people having shared interests.
Below are some links to communication related conferences in order of career focus:
- International Business Communication Association
- International Communication Association
- Association of Talent Development
- Conal (a website that links international conferences by topic area)
So I ask you, have you been to a professional conference lately? If you have found a good conference, please share the conference name in the comments. If your answer is no, consider finding one that connects with your personal or career goals. You might be surprised how a conference colleague might become part of your inner-circle.
Posted by Patty Goodman, Ed.D., Faculty
As John Kotter (2002) argues in The Heart of Change, visioning “involves trying to see possible futures. It inevitably has both a creative and emotional component” (p. 68). As communicators, one of our jobs is often to help craft visions, and, more often, to talk about them in a way that will inspire our audiences.
Northeastern’s president, Joseph Aoun, recently announced that the Board of Trustees had approved Northeastern 2025, the university’s vision for the next decade.
Take a look. Personally, I find this vision inspirational; it motivates me to think about how the vision translates into enhancements in our curriculum and how we can enrich the educational experience of our students.
Alumni also figure prominently in the Northeastern 2025 vision document, which states the following:
“As students graduate and continue to participate as alumni, they will plug into a multigenerational ecosystem of lifelong learning and career support—critical to personal and professional resilience.
Northeastern 2025 will integrate employer and alumni networks as sources of lifelong learning, teaching, mentoring, and innovation. Our campuses around the world will serve as amplifiers for integration—pathways to richly diverse networked relationships, including employer and alumni partnerships, affinity groups, and topical communities. Employers and alumni will also take on more formal and informal mentoring and learning assessment responsibilities.”
What could this all mean for you, our alumni?
Posted by Carl Zangerl, Ph.D., Faculty