What sort of advices would you give to professionals, both newly minted and more seasoned professionals, who might be interested in non-traditional career paths? Question 3 Division Cabinet Chair Candidates, Pam Enrici

If you are looking at a non-traditional path, there is not one exact way to do.  The following are what I consider common sense suggestions on how to look for and land that job.

The first thing to do, would be to take inventory of your professional and personal strengths and weaknesses.  There are any number of inventories that will help you with that – some are free others do cost.  Check with your state unemployment bureau.  Most have links to various inventories you can take – for free.  If you are a recent graduate, your university should still be able to help with these inventories.  Many will also help you with your interview skills.

What things interest you?  What things are you doing now that actually interest you – do you love to paint?  Do you love working with numbers?  Do you do woodworking?  Do you sew?  Do you play video games?  Each of these have different industries that you could look at and see where your skills might be useful.  Can you move?  The job for you might be in your area but it might also be halfway across the world.

Relook at your undergraduate major and see what special skills you might have because of that.  Be aware that many times there is absolutely no correlation between the job you end up end and your subject major, so don’t give up because your undergraduate degree doesn’t correlate with an industry.

If there is a type of job you are interested in, see if you can shadow someone doing that job.  That way you can learn what is actually involved and what the buzz words are in that area. When you create your resume and cover letter make sure to include them. Find out the type of questions asked in a job interview in the field you want to work in. Even though you will have an electronic resume, make sure you have paper copy in case it’s needed.

As you are doing all of the above, network, network, network.  Many non-governmental jobs are never posted but are done by word of mouth or just announced internally within a company. SLA is one of the greatest places that you can use to network!

Pam Enrici
Univ. of MN., Duluth (on the shores of Lake Superior)
penrici@d.umn.edu

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