Change is just ahead; whether it’s the leaves on your favorite park trees, the clothes in your closet or your daily routine, fall marks a tangible shift in not only the world around us, but how we approach it – making this time an appropriate moment to reevaluate our goals and aspirations as part of a new chapter.
What does your future look like? Whether you’re returning to 120th Street for the fall semester or moving through your professional life as a TC alum, consider what’s next for your career with these must-have tips from experts throughout the Teachers College community.
Be thoughtful about your unique skills and perspective when crafting your professional brand. “TC students and recent graduates should consider the unique elements of their identity and skillset that they can bring to a future employer,” advises Laura Coleman, Associate Director of Employment Partnerships at TC NEXT, which offers professional development services to students and alumni. “Whether it's certain theories or tools you've learned about in your academic program, skills you've cultivated in prior jobs, or life experiences that help you bring a new perspective to an organization, be sure to highlight what makes you uniquely qualified to make an impact.”
“Understanding and showcasing your professional identity can take time and introspection,” Coleman says, “but will ultimately help position you as a standout candidate in the job market.”
Work on your relationship with yourself – and be thoughtful about building ones with others. “Networking – making and maintaining connections – is the most powerful tool in an opportunities search,” explains TC NEXT Career Coach Genevieve Thevenin. “Also remember that pauses are productive, allowing for reflection and helping us discern the next best steps in our career trajectory.”
“Lastly, when interviewing, remember that it is a two-way street,” says Thevenin. “The role should align with your own mission and values and you should be excited to be part of the team you meet during the interview process.”
Keep an open mind about your future and your passions. “A lot of our career paths will not be linear. There are twists and turns, opportunities that present themselves, paths we reverse from, and people we meet along the way,” says Sabeen Sheikh, TC NEXT’s Associate Director of Coaching & Programming.
“When you love what you do, there’s something pleasant every day, but getting there might take time, and when you’re there you may want to do other things. It’s ok to do other things and explore various industries, organizations, and opportunities,” explains Sheikh. “The world of work has changed so much and continues to change. There might be areas that didn’t exist before but now it is booming, and areas that existed a few years ago that don’t exist now.”
Embrace specialization when you can. “Consider the population you'd like to focus on, and to the best of your ability, make every paper and project about that population. When you graduate, you can then repurpose that content for articles, talks and even a book,” advises TC alum and leadership expert Ruth Gotian (Ed.D. ’17), whose dissertation led to her book, The Success Factor.
Stay connected. “TC is a powerful place with the best alumni. Be sure to continue to stay in touch with your professors and as many alumni as you can, not just those from your year or program,” further advises Gotian. “Being from TC is the perfect ice breaker to any conversation, so find as many as you can, and engage with them on LinkedIn. You'd be surprised where those connections can take you.”
Discover professional resources for TC students and alumni – including events, one-on-one coaching and more – through TC NEXT here.