Sunday, April 23, 2006

Career Reinvention

I read an interesting article in the Montreal Gazette's "Working" section the other day ( Saturday, April 22, 2006) called "Dive right in."

The article focuses on and discusses the points mentioned in a career planning book titled Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career by Herminia Ibarra, a former teacher at Harvard University, now a teacher at INSEAD, an international business school in Fountainbleau, France.

Ibarra's argument runs contrary to traditional career advice; she recommends that people wanting a career change or wishing to reinvent their career paths should go out there and do it rather than plan every little detail before acting (lest paralysis by analysis settles in, that's my additional opinion).

Considering the career roller-coaster ride that I am currently on (I resigned from my job in March, am now working as an independent web consultant and web designer at a downtown hospital, but still looking for better), I think the article, the book, and the thoughts the author puts forward are well worth mentioning in The DIGITAL Archive.

I suspect this blog may have a few library or archival studies students, as well as a number of established librarians, archivists, and information professionals, who may be seeking a (new) career direction or who are in the midst of reinventing their careers.

I think this post will be worth your time.

Before I dive in to the "Dive right in" article (no pun intended), I want thank one blogger by the name of Will Richardson whose educational blog Weblogg-ed: the read/write web in the classroom first shed light (to me at least) on the concept of reinventing one's career. Browse on over to his February 7, 2006 posting in which he announces his decision to leave his current job to pursue "(a)nother path, one that I hope leads to satisfying, engaging, urgent work. Urgent work."

I really like that line!

OK, now on to the Montreal Gazette article...I wish I could add a URL here, but unfortunately the Gazette has locked this article, making it only available to online subscribers.

For those with access to an online newspaper database, try searching for "Dive right in" and "Strategies to reinvent your career" by Donna Nebenzahl, Montreal Gazette, Saturday, April 22, 2006.

Herminia Ibarra, author of Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career, suggests 9 "unconventional" strategies for reinventing one's career.
  1. Act, then reflect - You cannot discover yourself by introspection. (I think French author Albert Camus made this point in his novella The Outsider).
  2. Flirt with yourselves - Stop trying to find your one true self, she recommends. Test out your various selves, your various ideas, in the real world, where concrete behaviour and feedback give you new insights.
  3. Live the contractions - A little unclear this one, but she suggests one allows oneself to oscillate between holding on and letting go of ideas when in the midst of transition.
  4. Make big changes in small steps - Don't make big sudden changes, she argues. Like the construction of a sky-scraper, take one small step at a time in re-building your career.
  5. Experiment with new roles - Try out new roles or styles of working by pursuing them as extracurricular activities. Vary experiments as much as possible to get as much feedback as possible.
  6. Find people who are what you want to be - Look for role models.
  7. Don't wait for a catalyst - Don't wait for some big event to reveal your true calling (dang, no Luke Skywalker moment, folks). Use everyday events to find meaning in your transition period and soon clarity will occur.
  8. Step back, but not for too long - Take a break from the norm and away from that which is familiar. A day's hike or doing something that removes you from the usual surroundings are useful moments to reflect.
  9. Seize windows of opportunities - Take advantage of windows of opportunities as they open.

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about the author

I am an information professional, researcher, and writer with over eight years experience in the information services field with experience in information and communication technology.

I have a B.A. in History and a Master's in Library and Information Studies and working on a Web and Multimedia Design certificate.

I believe that empowering people with information can enrich lives and transform the world.