Recently Facebook released a new set of social plug-ins that allow website owners to add a variety of Facebook features to their sites, notably the “Like Button.”
Over 100,000 websites have added these plug-ins to their site since their release, giving Facebook users the ability to document their fondness for everything from a local restaurant to a CNN article about the series finale of 24. Without opening the Pandora’s Box that is Facebook privacy, I’d like to use the “Like Button” as an analogy for your career.
If taken to the extreme, the Like Button can make your Facebook page a documentary of your web activities – a repository of the things you find compelling, engaging and interesting. For you, it’s an explicit “statement of like,” and for your friends it’s a window into your interests and drives.
I work with hundreds and hundreds of students each year, and a common characteristic of these sessions is that students are unable to articulate their motivation or drive toward particular preferences and interests in different careers and industries. Some will recall an experience or minimal exposure. Some will reference family members’ career paths. But, most often they answer my “why questions” with incomplete or partially-informed answers.
I think this comes from lack of a push or ready procedure for students to document career activities and exposure.
Through your time in college you are exposed to career-related information at many times and in many forms. Sometimes these are accompanied with an “a ha” moment and sometimes with just a fleeting thought.
These exposures and “a ha” moments may be brought on by a guest speaker in class, an article you read, an internship or event sponsored by your career center. But unless you proactively process the experience, it may be lost or fade over time.
Scene 1: You’re attending a company information session and the recruiter mentions a career path that sounds perfect for you – click the Like Button.
Scene 2: You’re listening to a speaker talk about her strengths when you realize one of your own – click the Like Button.
Sadly, no Like Button has this type of power yet, so you should find an outlet to store these moments. That outlet can take on many forms – a blog, an iPhone notes app, a well-worn Trapper Keeper or other platform for your thoughts.
Once you begin to document those career items that you find compelling, engaging and interesting, review them on an ongoing basis. That way when your career counselor (or a recruiter, or your mom or dad) asks why you’re pursuing a particular class, major, internship or job, you can more easily articulate a well-reasoned answer. Ultimately this process will make you feel much more confident about and engaged in your own career path.
Gary is a 15-year veteran of higher education in variety of student services and managerial roles at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Georgia State University and the University of Washington. His areas of expertise as a student services professional include dynamic group presentations, internships, and department marketing, strategy and technology utilization. He is currently assistant director for business-related internships at University Career Services at UNC-Chapel Hill. In addition to blogging, Gary is professionally active on twitter.com (@garyalanmiller), 12seconds.tv, and linkedin.com, and is among the first higher education professionals to launch a social media resume. He is also a musician, hobbyist entrepreneur and father of a beautiful baby boy named Kirby.