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EcoLeaders Shine at National Career Conference
Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of representing the National Wildlife Federation EcoLeaders program as manager of our growing Career Center at the National Career Development Association (NCDA) conference in beautiful Chicago, IL. During this conference, career service professionals from all kinds of settings (secondary education, post-secondary, independent counselors, contractors, and more) shared their research, theories, practical applications and inspiring stories. Feedback about the NWF EcoLeaders Career Center was overwhelmingly positive, and we are currently exploring more opportunities to collaborate with higher education career services offices across the nation.
The EcoLeaders program is NWF’s career and professional development program for America’s young conservationists. In the past year, the NWF EcoLeaders team has worked hard to create and grow an inspirational and informative Career Center for all students and young professionals wanting to craft a truly sustainable career – one that builds upon the three pillars of sustainability: ecology, economy and equity. As the sweltering summer semester passes by, we are hard at work developing powerful new elements to the NWF EcoLeaders program which we hope to unveil in the upcoming academic year.
In the meantime, one of my top highlights from NCDA was a presentation by the “technology twins,” Dr. Debra Osborn from Florida State University and Dr. Melissa Venable from OnlineColleges.net. Their informative presentation connected new technologies with established career development theories. One of the highlighted theories, the Cognitive Information Processing (CIP) approach to career development, emphasizes four types of knowledge: yourself (e.g. values, interests, and aptitudes); your career options; your decision-making skills; and your own metacognition (i.e. understanding your own thought processes). A small sample of the recommended technological resources that can assist with each of these types of knowledge are:
- Knowledge of yourself: Wordle is a free site that creates word clouds based on a user’s input. Upload your resume, your EcoMission, or a short autobiography to see what terms and phrases you use to describe yourself, your interests, and your abilities most often.
- Knowledge of your options: The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ recently updated Occupational Outlook Handbook is a go-to source for trends, statistics, and projections for jobs in the U.S. We use this resource extensively in building our Career Sector Outlooks (e.g. Habitat and Wildlife, Sustainable Transportation, Clean Energy, etc.), but the raw data and reports from BLS are very interesting and useful for anyone creating a career pathway.
- Knowledge of your decision-making abilities: Unstuck is a website and app that can help you figure out why you may be having a tough time making a decision and offer you some advice on how to move forward with a decision – whether that decision is about a monumental life direction, or just what to eat for dinner!
- Knowledge of your metacognition: Stop, Breathe, and Think guides users through a few quick questions about their thoughts, emotions, and physical state before recommending several choices of guided meditations. “Checking in with yourself” is key to unlocking the power of metacognition, and this site is a great tool to help you check in.
We encourage you to check out each of these fabulous resources, and of course, the NWF EcoLeaders Career Center, as you create a pathway for yourself to a satisfying and sustainable career.