To support local government redesign efforts and recognize the innovative work already underway, the Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center has partnered with state associations to create the Local Government Innovation & Redesign Guide and host a yearly Local Government Innovations Awards ceremony.
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On April 5, I was lucky enough to attend the panel talk hosted by the PNLC and the Office of Career Services. It was entitled "6 Ways To Rock Your Public Affairs Career" and featured Trista Harris, Lars Leafblad, Will Delaney, and course, Kim Borton!
When I first sat down, I thought that this event would mostly serve as a self-congratulatory, "pat myself on the back" experience. After all, I make sure to connect with folks who I meet at events, which means I must be a good networker, right? I make sure that I update my LinkedIn profile and my resume regularly, which means I must be plugged into getting a job/internship, right? There was nothing new that I needed to be taught.
Or so I thought...
What happened instead was that I was totally inspired and blown away. I was inspired by the sheer magnitude of what Will, Trista, and Lars do every day to create new, and maintain existing, relationships. They blog, write newsletters, meet alumni, etc. I was blown away by the tools and techniques they use in order to get themselves to where they want to be.
I wasn't doing a tiny fraction of these things!
As soon as I realized this,I whipped out my notebook and pen. I ended up taking three solid pages of notes: ideas, book titles, websites, key phrases, and lots of little items that comprise my new To-Do List.
Yes, it's true that a To-Do List isn't something we usually associate as "rocking" or "cool" but it is the most basic time management tool available to ensure personal accountability. You are reading this blog because you're interested in the PNLC. You're interested in the PNLC because you want to make a difference by contributing to the common good. Well, in order to get there, you have to take care of your own professional development. To paraphrase Trista Harris, "If you can't lift up your own brand, no one else can do it for you."
Well, my brand is still under development but I've got a To-Do List that's going to help me get to where I want to be. Here is a section of the list that I created from my inspired note-taking at the panel event:
1) Update LinkedIn profile and put a repeating event in my Google calendar to have a monthly update of this important social networking tool. (Check!).
2) Writing exercise: Where do I want to be in 5 years? 10 years? Now, what do I need on my resume in order to get me there?
3) Sign up to be a student blogger for the PNLC (Check!).
4) Contact a friend in D.C. who works with a teacher-quality project that I am interested and send her my resume. Ask her to pass it along to anyone who is involved in this policy area and have her facilitate a connection.
5) Craft a professional development plan for myself. Areas should include: communication skills, tech skills, quantitative skills, writing skills, and research skills. Share it with Elena, my taskmaster friend who won't let me make excuses. Set up a monthly date to check in with her about my progress.
6) Check out these titles that were recommended by Lars: Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi and A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink (Check!).
7) Write emails to Pat, Erika, Elena, and Elisabeth who comprise my "Board of Directors" as Trista Harris eloquently described the team of people who serve as your unofficial mentors.
8) Register for a strategic planning course in my remaining year at Humphrey (Check!).
Phew! That is a quite a lot, but there is a lot to do when you're developing yourself in order to ROCK your public affairs career! What have you do in order to create a professional development plan for yourself? What does your To-Do List look like? Send in your own lists!