Tuesday, March 23, 2010

How to Research: Discovering Career Opportunities in Your Field

More handouts from last week's workshop. Some may apply to you, others not. But, there's still resources here to consider.

Finding the right career path can be a challenging task. But, with research tools like the internet and social networking, your options are more extensive and versatile to find creative ways to pursue a career in the arts. Here are some suggestions on researching techniques that are available to you.

Step 1: Read about industries, organizations, occupations available in the field

Begin your initial research by reading up on resources listed below. Be flexible and open-minded as you go through these materials. Often, one web site or article will lead you to other sources that will provided you with useful information.

As you read about different types of industries and occupations, keep a running list of professions you find interesting. This will help you narrow down your research and also assist you to identify what type of profession will be the best fit for you.

Resources available online

Occupational Outlook Handbook: www.bls.gov/oco
www.successfromtheinsideout.com/resources.html (helpful site for list of websites and publications related to professional development and job search)
Websites listed on SVA's Online Resource for Creative Employment (available on MySVA and SVA Job Board)
Other helpful resources

Publications listed on Associations, Directories and Publications handouts by majors provided by SVA Office of Career Development. They are available on MySVA and Online Job Board
Newspapers, magazines, eZines, blogs, listserves, trade journals
Publications available in bookstores or libraries

Step 2: Expand your research

Once you build a solid foundation, it is important to expand your research by talking to professionals who are already working in the industry. This process will give you hands on information about how to develop your career and will make others aware that you're interested in working in their field.

Suggestions on steps you can take to move your research to the next level:

Talk to business/industry people

Talk with your faculty and chair about opportunities for people with your training
Attend professional development events hosted by your and various departments
Take part in career fairs and internship fairs
Conduct information interviews with people in occupations and organizations that interest you (especially if they work for a company you want to work for)

Notice the jobs around you, especially those done by your teachers, family members, friends, acquaintances and others. Ask them about:

Their career path
How they feel about their work?
What career tips and advise do they have to offer?
How did they get started?

Connect with alumni through the SVA Alumni Directory (Net Community - check with LW for new name, no longer using SVA connect - or just url so they know where to look for it)

What are alumni from your major doing?
What are alumni from other majors doing?
Ask for advise and exchange contact information

Find your own mentor

A mentor can provide you with valuable information and practice advice. Suggestions on finding an appropriate mentor:

Your instructor (from college, high school, etc.)
Your friend who who works in the industry you want to work in
Family member
Your classmate
Alumni from SVA

Step 3: Expand your professional network

Broaden your network; join a social networking site and professional associations. Becoming a part of these groups can generate more contacts and resources that are useful to you. Examples of ways you can build your network:

Join LinkedIn.com, Facebook, Twitter, follow blogs
Join the SVA Career Development Group page on LinkedIn
Use the people search function on LinkedIn to research where SVA alumni are working and solicit their assistance
Add the url of your LinkedIn profile to your email signature and build your contacts
Create an account on College Central Network, post your resume and portfolio
Join professional associations related to the field you want to work in. Many associations offer discounted rates for students. Lists of professional associations by major are available on MySVA and SVA Online Job Board
Attend conferences, events, and programs hosted by professional associations and SVA. Consider joining a committee or volunteer to help at an event. These events are the perfect place to meet industry professionals.

One of the most important skills that you will need throughout your career is how to find information through different channels. Take advantage of all of the valuable resources around you and use them to your advantage.

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