“Culture and Career”: Seasoned advice for UC professionals
On May 8, the UC Virtual Career series hosted its latest virtual episode to support UC alumni, employees and friends in pursuing their career goals. “Culture + Career” explored the importance of culture in the workplace — including ensuring whether a company’s values and goals are a good fit for you personally, and advice for being your authentic self in the workplace.
Aaron E. de Santiago-Jones, director of the Educational Opportunity Program at UC Santa Barbara — as well as a UC Santa Barbara alumnus — moderated the panel, which included UC alumni who are engaged in a variety of fields:
- Jane Castillón, Disability Specialist, Disabled Students Program, UC Santa Barbara (UC Irvine, ‘98)
- Jessica Chen, Founder & CEO, Soulcast Media (UC San Diego, ’10)
- Kelly Fong Rivas, Chief of Staff, Office of Mayor Darrell Steinberg, City of Sacramento (UC Santa Cruz, ‘07)
Watch the full episode of Culture + Career online on YouTube.
Top 8 takeaways for successfully integrating your culture and career
1. Be willing to leave your comfort zone
Sometimes an environment in which you need to actively “carve out your niche,” such as moving to a new city, can be a good motivator for personal growth. This is especially true when you can see and feel potential — not only for your own development, but also your capacity to make an impact on issues you’re passionate about.
2. Seek connections
Build alliances with coworkers and other people who share your interests, then use those groups as a forum to explore new skills and interests. Consider how your current work dovetails into your long-term career goals.
3. Be your own advocate
Take ownership of your professional growth and hold yourself accountable. If you are aware of a problem, bring it to your employer’s attention — paired with a proposed solution. If you are proud of something, share your excitement with your colleagues. Ask for constructive criticism. Remember that you are at your current organization because you have something to offer.
4. Prioritize diversity and inclusion in your job search
Research potential employers to assess their commitment to equality: Look for evidence of their commitment to diversity and inclusion in their mission, funding, conferences, current staff and even application process. Ask direct questions about diversity during your interview, and consider scheduling an informational interview with someone outside the hiring process to learn more about what it’s like to work there.
5. Be authentic
Pursue work that excites you. The right job will spark your curiosity, making you eager to learn more and achieve more. Find alignment between your passions and work. Understand your strengths and weaknesses, being willing to show vulnerability and your personality in order to build connections. Ask questions when you need help.
6. Always strive for two-way conversations and address conflicts with empathy
In addition to sharing your experiences, listening is a key communications tool. By actively listening to others’ thoughts and experiences, you are modeling the respect, empathy and desire for understanding that you hope to receive in return. If you need to have an uncomfortable conversation or experience microaggression, focus on the message, not yourself. Be “hard on the issues, easy on the people.” Take a moment to take a deep breath, honor your feelings and prepare to see the other person’s side.
7. Strive to empower others
Learning how to enable others to do what they are good at is a key component of leadership — and also strengthens your relationships within your company and team. When another member of your team excels, everyone benefits.
8. Work at a company where you can excel
Good employers are invested in you as an individual, as well as your professional potential, growth and progress. Your employer should offer professional development opportunities and encourage you to express your passions. If a company demonstrates a consistent lack of equity, discourages growth or causes you to lose enthusiasm for your passion it may not be the right fit — or it may be a sign that it’s time to explore your next opportunity.
Next up: LGBTQ @ Work
June is Pride month. On Tuesday, June 11, from 12-1 p.m., catch the next episode in the Virtual Career Series, LGBTQ @ Work. This transparent, virtual conversation around LGBTQ and identity in the workplace will include:
- Finding a support network (even when a formal one does not exist)
- Ways to determine if a company is inclusive
- Being a great ally
- Mentoring others as they navigate the intersections of identity and work
Tags: career, career advice, culture, LGBTQ, professional development