So You Want to Be a Shrink?

Navigating careers in psychology.

Social Networking

It's not about the virtual. It's about real contact.

   

Oftentimes, the term "social networking" evokes images of those inimitable internet sites that link up like-minded people. In connecting with those friends, one develops certain social skills to navigate the online world of friendships. Yet other types of social networking skills are going to be required to navigate another domain - that one known as the world of job hunting!

       The current economy and the projections for its state over the near future indicate that job hunting will be challenging to say the least. At one time, it was said that it wasn't what you know but who you know that could determine the outcome of a job search. For others, this process should be based on your knowledge and accomplishments. However, the time has come where both contacts and knowledge are going to be essential to finding the right job for you. Though online networks may be a starting place for such endeavors, it is by no means the be-all and end-all of this course of action.

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Social networking, in its original connotation, meant getting involved in groups and activities where people held common interests. In that mingling, some very interesting friendships and alliances can develop. It's one thing for someone to know your webpage. It's another to have them know you personally. While working on a restoration project, performing some public advocacy or education on an issue of great concern to you, the person at the table, worksite or event may have the reference that may well open the door for your right career. Let's consider some areas of interests to which you could dedicate some time to widen your social network.

     Many nonprofit organizations are looking for people to volunteer their time in order to accomplish their goals. Those groups that provide advocacy or social services might be a good locale for those who want to learn more about counseling or therapeutic work. Some will provide training for the provision of such services. For groups that engage in restoration or development work projects, it might be an opportunity to meet the sponsors and their employees who volunteer to assist on projects that they support. Another opportunity might be participation in fundraising events for various charitable organizations that provide services or support research. This investment of your time and effort will be rewarded in a number of ways.

    Consider this. By actually showing up for some event or activity, a potential employer learns that you are willing to devote your time not just your words. Secondly, the time spent doing volunteer work, planning a fundraiser or increasing public awareness on an important issue may help develop skills that are valuable to a future employer. Finally, as you devote yourself to helping others, you may find a wealth of other things, including a new direction for you. Therefore, getting away from the computer screen may serve to open the door to the right job or a new passion.

Key Sun is a psychologist, social worker, and associate professor of law and justice at Central Washington University. He is the author of Correctional Counseling.more...

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