Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
When CAPE first opened in fall 2013, we conducted a brief survey at our open house event asking for feedback and information about the types of workshops or professional development sessions that people here at VC would most like to see. The responses we received were mostly technology related. Since that time, we have garnered a great deal of information, not from surveys, but from simply talking to all of you. As we conduct our workshops, there’s usually some time before or after the sessions (and sometimes even during) in which participants converse. It is during these times that we often hear such things as “Now that would be a good workshop” or “I’d be interested in a workshop on [insert topic here].”
With those responses in mind, we asked the members of the CAPE Advisory Council to talk to the people in their areas to see what workshops we need to provide. However, we didn’t want the question phrased in that way. Instead, we suggested such questions as
- What do you want to learn?
- What knowledge are you missing to make your life at VC better?
- What is your unmet need?
- What can we do to help you grow and reach your goals?
This last question is especially relevant for me because a few weeks ago, I wrote about planning one’s professional development and focusing on professional learning opportunities that increase one’s value as an employee. I actively attempted to do just that. I broadened my understanding of competency-based education and researched the use of the emporium model in developmental education. However, it wasn’t until I spoke with a colleague a few days ago that I realized that I had made a drastic error in reasoning. I have been attempting to increase my value as an employee for my current position at this day and time. While I have no immediate plans to leave my current position, I also don’t see myself as the curriculum and instruction design specialist for the next twenty years either. I’m not entirely sure about what I want to do next, but I do know that I should be preparing for whatever that next step is now. For me, this presents two quite distinct problems.
First, I have an ingrained negative connotation associated with ambition and people who are always striving to “get ahead.” I’m not sure where this comes from, but it has often prevented me from thinking “above my station” so to speak. This makes it difficult to think of the future and plan a possible future career.
The second issue involves what I am going to broadly term knowledge and connectability. Once one decides what path they would most like to take in the future, how does one know what skills and experiences would be most useful? I’ve researched job descriptions for possible future jobs, and they all seem extremely vague and just not helpful. I’ve also refrained from asking any of my direct connections, partly because I fear they may say or think something along the lines of “what makes her think that she can do that!” (see problem #1) and partly because I’m not even sure who to ask.
I don’t think that I’m the only one with these issues, so I’m going to challenge each of you as well as myself to start thinking about what we can do to better prepare ourselves for our future positions. And, let’s reach out and help one another as well. In the comments below, let’s all share where we would like to be in the next ten years and start helping one another achieve those goals.