“head west!” Starting career navigation

Sometimes starting up with career navigation can feel like that moment at the very beginning of a journey using GPS. That first moment, when you’re just starting off from standstill, and you are told “head west!” and you just have got no idea which way that might be. Sometimes it is hard to know enough about where you are starting from to get your bearings, to know which way to head.

And there is a strong sense that it will all be much easier once you get moving.

We have already explored the idea on this blog that when it comes to career, as a student of linguistics you are not just starting your journey, but if we choose to play with this idea of beginnings we can perhaps use it to help us think about how transitions can feel very much feel like beginnings, and perhaps we can use this idea to help us think a bit about why this “first” step can feel like such a challenge. Or put another way: What can we do to metaphorically take stock of where we currently are so that we can figure out which way to take those first few steps and catalyze just a tiny bit of momentum?

By way of case-study, Ping-Hsuan (Hogan) Wang has graciously agreed to share some of the details of the conversation he had with me recently at LSA as part of our expert consultation session (storytelling for career).

We began the conversation by taking stock of where he is now:

  • he’s in the second year of his M.A., graduating in May
  • working as a Teaching Assistant in the Chinese Department
  • involved in the Graduate Student Association
  • Involved with international students / office of Global services
  • social media

Reflecting on these, Ping recognizes first and foremost a passion for teaching, which explains why he has been doing it for so many years, a passion which is also evidenced in his tremendous YouTube channel featuring inspiring videos to get students excited about language learning.

But he also finds himself recently wanting to look a bit more deeply into a budding interest, working in intercultural exchange contexts, guided by the idea of helping participants recognize how much they bring to the encounter in addition to the many things they are aware of taking away from the experience.

So, we spent some time brainstorming points of navigation in the form of people, organizations, associations, and events, and he left (as should you all from any networking encounter) with two networking leads: one to whom he could give something and one from whom he could get.

Some of his points of orientation in case they help followers of this blog in turn:

Society for Intercultural Training, Education, and Research SIETAR

The World Bank

Intercultural Management Institute at American University


What are some of your favorite orientation points?

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