I adopt a story approach to career, which I see as being organized into three discrete kinds of activities: story listening, story finding and story telling. And these can be organized along a “cline of agentivity” such that if you are looking for the place to start, start with story listening.
Listening to stories is one of the first things we do as children, and adopting a listening or analytical stance is certainly something that our training as linguists has prepared us for. Because our discipline trains us to be descriptivists, we are uniquely positioned to describe. Bring this awareness to the stories that surround you – about work, about jobs, about organizations, about YOURSELF (both those that you hear and that you tell).
If there is one thing that we linguists know how to do, it is to lead with listening!
In this blog, I share stories – especially in the Profiles in Linguistics section. View these as data – because we are scientists, we want lots of data and we value the process of conducting research in crafting an analysis. And go well beyond these – this is just a starting point – “listen widely” when it comes to educating yourself about the range of contexts in which our insights may be applied.
Moving up the cline of agentivity, we come to story finding.
Many career books actually have the reader begin here – at this place of self-reflection, going back into past experiences for wisdom about the present – for example the perennial career classic What Color is Your Parachute? begins by having the reader going back to think about moments of being truly actualized – times in her life where she felt really good at something and enjoyed herself fully to ask what choices were made, what actions took then and why and how these might be illuminating. But I suggest that this is actually a tremendously challenging place to begin. I would call this phase career exploration phase, which is hard to do when you haven’t got a sense for the landscape you are exploring. I think career exploration is easier when you have begun with career education. So given that we used story listening as our way to action career education, we can now think of story finding as a way to put career exploration into action.
In adopting the stance of looking very actively for stories you will start to recognize them where you may not have otherwise: predominantly our own but also seeking out those of organizations we might wish to work for.
But as linguists, we should always be prepared with an answer to “how did you discover lx?” This is an opportunity – a way in. Don’t squander it!!
However, applying the insights from the story listening section to be sure that we understand what they are DOING. We need to bring critical awareness to our own stories, listening systematically to the stories that we tell to make sure that they DO what we want them to!!
Ready to start?