Saturday, April 25, 2009

Reinventing Ourselves

“The Career Re-Invention Workshop: Making the Leap to Your Post-Journalism Career”

University of Washington, Seattle, 9:00am-12:00

The Seattle Association of Black Journalists (SABJ) named the program “the Career Re-invention Workshop.”, one of the event’s sponsors, provided door prizes that reminded attendees that our “calling is calling.” Whatever the tag line, the morning was full of sage advice for professionals transitioning from one world to another in a turbulent economy. Especially designed for journalists seeking new career opportunities, the workshop was useful for everyone trying to reimagine themselves.

I was glad to be there.

The nine speakers on two moderated panels told candid stories of their own transitions. They shared vivid accounts of being humbled and let us glimpse the stresses of bleeding their savings while trying to follow their passions. Such directness gave their take-home messages gravitas.

Among others: Be positive. See the challenges of lay-offs and industry implosions as opportunities. Keep learning, always. Volunteer. Own the process. Define who you are by the skills and successes you have, not by the jobs you’ve done or the titles you’ve held. Promote yourself.

Great SABJ care went into organizing the morning sessions. The first panel, moderated by Paul Hollie, Vice-President for Public Relations at Safeco (right), included four speakers:

  • Alex Fryer, Media Relations Manager for the Office of Mayor Greg Nickels;
  • Justin Carder, Vice President for Business Development at Instivate;
  • Hugo Kugiya, former national reporter for Newsday and the Associated Press, and currently a freelance journalist; and
  • Gary Washburn, former sports reporter for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
The panelists (left) described in detail their own experiences of moving out of one successful and satisfying career and into—or toward, for those whose transitions are not yet complete—another.

The second session provided us with an inside view from the other side of the hiring desk—straight talk from recruiters and hiring managers about what they are looking for in competitive job candidates.

Moderated by Raina Wagner from the Seattle Times, this panel included:

  • Scott Battishill, Senior Vice President of DDB;
  • Jack Evans, Director of Public Relations for Legal and Policy Issues at Microsoft;
  • Natasha Jones, Deputy Communications Director for the Office of the King County Executive;
  • Susan Long-Walsh, principal of her own recruiting firm; and
  • Rhonda Woods, Human Resources Recruiter for Seattle University.
The speakers shared lots of practical tips on effective resume-writing and self-branding, on traditional interview strategies and on ways to harness new social media tools like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to build one’s professional presence.

Following the public panel sessions, three recruiters met with individuals to review and critique their current resumes.

I attended this morning’s workshop because the SABJ had reached out to invite members from the PRSA Puget Sound Chapter. I very much appreciate that courtesy, and am grateful for the chance to participate in such an excellent program. It was balanced, authoritative, encouraging, and practical. More than that, the planning team from SABJ made us all feel welcome and valued, sharing in the duress and promise of the stressed economy. It was a community-building event, and the informal conversations with speakers and audience members during the breaks and following the formal sessions only enriched our shared sense of having been present for something very good.

Only a little sheepishly, I must add too that I came away with one of the cool door prizes.

Rich Murphy, PhD, APR

Member, Board of Directors

PRSA Puget Sound

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