June 2013

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June 2013

News From Lea Asbell-Swanger, USITT President

Building Career Capital

This is often the time of year that heralds the "summer reading list." I guess there's the hope that all those school children will make good use of their summer vacation by reading something. If a list of suggestions encourages and informs that behavior, then why not? I've always enjoyed reading – not always that which I was supposed to read, but I enjoyed a variety of genres. As my career took twists and turns, I would often go in search of reading materials as a source of professional development.

With the advent of the internet, there is no shortage of articles, blogs, and information about almost any topic. I subscribe to a few listserves and other collectives that provide access to concise articles, which my schedule can absorb. Recently, I read one entitled The 7 Ways Successful People Approach Their Work.

It turned out to be an article about a more involved book series due out in September that was the result of a research study about how people approach work. The researcher and book author, Laura Vanderkam, discovered that most successful people have similar habits. She compiled what she believes to be the top seven shared approaches and, unfortunately, none of them were new. In fact, they were essentially common sense habits that we all know, but most of us don't do consistently. It is possible to learn these habits, but unless they become one's routine it's like the difference between going on a diet and changing one's eating habits. The former will get you a short-term loss that's hard to maintain while the latter becomes a lifestyle.

There was one of the seven that Ms. Vanderkam valued more highly than the rest and that she called paying into your career capital account. She defines this account as "the sum total of your experiences, your knowledge, your skills, your relationships — and all these things enable you to get a new job if you need one, create new situations for yourself or other people, or even let you take a break without having it ruin your career." The pay in or building of career capital comes down to three basic options: improving existing skills, learning new ones, and building a loyal network.

I believe that those of you who use your membership with USITT to its fullest are already doing all three of these things and probably aren't even conscious of the career capital you've created. The good news is that it has prepared you for the unforeseen that inevitably happens in every career. If you are a USITT member and you aren't availing yourself of all the things that USITT has to offer, it's never too soon or too late to start building your own career capital.

Lea Asbell-Swanger

We'd like to hear your comments on this story.
Please e-mail Lea at Lea.Asbell-Swanger@usitt.org.