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Your Life@Work: A blog to boost your career development

Lena Zentall and Leslie Wolf, project managers at the California Digital Library (CDL), have always taken a keen interest in career development. When they learned of UC’s furlough program, which recently ended for non-represented employees, their interest did not flag. “We took it to heart to challenge ourselves to find ways to develop our careers and emerge at the end of the furlough year stronger,” they said.

So they started a career development blog called YourLife@Work and went about getting it hosted on the CDL website. They take turns posting entries every Wednesday. While their topics are of interest to any committed professional, they write with the larger UC community in mind. “We want to shine the spotlight on you in our new blog, YourLife@Work. You face many challenges as a motivated professional. You are not alone,” they said to readers in their first post.

“Are you someone who sees opportunities and potential in most situations? Are you open to new ideas? Do you try new things even if they intimidate you?” These are some of the questions they asked their readers.

Frank views and realistic counsel are their intent. They provide advice on collaboration, professional development – what they call “professional fitness” – as well as resiliency, skills portability, innovation and happiness at work. Avid blog readers themselves, Leslie and Lena also offer up ideas from bloggers and other muses on YourLife@Work.

They recount their career ups and downs, and what they have learned along the way, including skills such as strategic planning, marketing and branding, creating effective teams and project management. You can count on Lena and Leslie to tell you about failures, and what has worked for them.

Together they are a shining example of solid teamwork. “We’ve come together as a team to write this blog. It’s a reflection of our successful collaboration in our work,” they wrote.

But it’s more than just work for these two colleagues and friends. They have a “shared voice.” Drawing from a schedule of over 25 topics, they alternate writing the first draft, with the other doing the edit. Through this process they’ve honed in on their individual strengths, finding that Lena is great at compelling visuals and Leslie can easily come up with pithy quotes.

Link staff interviewed Lena and Leslie and witnessed firsthand how dynamic their partnership is!

What was your motivation in creating Your Life@Work?
We started at CDL on the same day and began sharing information in the course of our work. We quickly realized we wanted to share that information more broadly. Our target audience is people who believe they have a career rather than just a job, people who are innovative and creative.

We’re also interested in how people manage their careers.

What inspires your weekly posts?
We write what we know about, what we want to learn and what interests our audience. We read a lot of blogs so we’re definitely inspired by other bloggers. We’re inspired knowing that we’re giving the UC community a real sense of sharing professional knowledge.

How have your colleagues and other UCOP staff responded to your blog?
We track our traffic once a week and review our post titles. We have encouraged readers to get involved in a dialog – sharing their own ideas and advice on our topics. Colleagues have e-mailed us privately and talked with us. They appreciate that we don’t only write about UC-specific topics.

We are thrilled with the support of our manager; she reads our blog every week. She even created a calendar alert for herself so she doesn’t miss a posting.

What topics have resonated most with your readers?
Based on our statistics and the feedback we get, readers are most engaged when they see themselves in the situation we describe. We’ve discovered, as other bloggers already knew, that even the title of your post makes a big difference in whether people read our posts.

The Perfect is the Enemy of the Good and Use the Power of Visuals to Get Your Point Across are a few examples of posts that resonated well. And 5 Steps to Managing Your Performance Evaluation is timely now.

How has writing this blog changed you on a professional level? On a personal level?
We have a strong commitment to this blog. This keeps our partnership moving forward both as project managers and writers.

We’ve become more comfortable receiving criticism. People don’t always agree with us and that’s okay!

Writing a blog has also changed the way we view information. Rather than shying away from topics we don’t fully understand, we plunge right in and do some quick research to get informed. We are satisfied with writing a few good tips –- often focusing on a few things that lodged in our memories as significant to us — and not worrying whether we’ve included all the right things.

On a personal level, we have a commitment to each other that we both honor; we’ve both written posts on evenings, weekends, holidays and even on leave to make sure we don’t let each other down.

We have the satisfaction of producing something. And it’s lots of fun! We enjoy doing this blog and the work that goes into creating it.

It’s special because CDL management supports it. What would have been a hard year with the furloughs was less so since we had a focus and a goal.

How did you go about getting the blog hosted on the CDL website?
Our desire to engage the UCOP community and all UC employees was a match with CDL’s values. We wanted to show that we embraced those values of innovation, collaboration, openness, learning and sharing. CDL welcomed the addition of Your Life@Work to its own active blog site.

What can we expect from your blog in the coming months?
We’re planning to do interviews with co-workers and others on their career paths and professional development. We’re especially interested in people’s career turning points and the bumps in the road they encountered. We also plan to try producing short videos.

We are also looking forward to featuring some guest bloggers in the coming months.
Our biggest desire is to find more ways to interact with readers and learn more about their experiences and opinions on the topics we write about. Readers can comment directly on individual posts or contact us privately at yourlifeatwork@gmail.com.

Leslie and Lena want to hear from you. They’re curious about what inspires you. And we can all learn from your stories. Why not try your hand as a guest blogger? No doubt the UC employee community has a wealth of professional advice to impart.

Check out the YourLife@Work posts to date:


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