Make It So: More Specific Career Panels

Awhile ago I spoke at Con-Volution, a new convention in the Bay Area (we are blessed with cons out here) that was very practically focused. It had a lot of panels examining things in depth, talking specific skills, and getting pretty deep into doing things. I of course took my usual career roadshow there becaus I’m me. You know me.

It also got me thinking. In depth panels? Skill-building workshops? People with career interests. Career Panels?  Hmmm . . .

Right now there’s a lot of separate skillsets you need to do your job search and career building properly. There’s also specific things you have to do to get your career going that are also separate skillsets – making a good resume, for instance. Conventions, which often have “effectively doing stuff” events could have workshops and panels that address these various elements and skillsets. Not just a resume panel here or a website workshop there – instead have as many as possible that cover all aspects of careers.

Think about this.  At a convention you set up a series of workshops that:

  1. Focus on one specific aspect of the career or job search – building a resume, business cards, geek networking.
  2. Each specific workshop is a start-to-finish, handout-with-outline guide to doing that one thing and doing it well or at least competently. The handout of some kind is mandatory.
  3. Workshops are spread out so they’re never conflicting – you could, if you wanted, attend all the career workshops if you wished.
  4. Post the handouts, information, and even videos on line when it’s done.

What this would accomplish – for the appropriate convention – is to have geek/fan/otaku attendees get, if they so wished, a crash course in important career skills and elements they could apply right away. Some people would attend them all, some would attend specific ones, and everyone would get something. It would also be delivered by people who are speaking to people like them.

It’s a complete career seminar with cosplaying, filk, and video games.

As for subjects?  I’d suggest the following:

  • Creation of a resume, including a useful example and templates.
  • Creation of a personal business card, including unusual variants and ideas (this might be tied into other “extras”)
  • Creation and maintenance of a personal/business website.
  • Creation of an artistic portfolio (which can take a whole panel)
  • Creation of a non-artist’s portfolio.  This would be good separate from art portfolios, and could even lead to highly specific panels for specific careers.
  • Use of job-search related social media, and general social media career advice.  This could also tie into networking in general.
  • General job search skills, perhaps with a focus on geek/fan advantages and edges.  However for a very “pro” con a straightup panel or workshop would be appropriate.
  • A networking event to hook people up and teach some networking as well.
  • Panels on professional associations that people should join – probably career-interest specific.  It also may be good to have people from said associations – they might even get one panel just for their particular organization.
  • Career structure panels, probably for specific careers – what do people do as their careers develop?

I’d also consider entire workshops or panels on career-specific advice.  There could be sets of panels on what freelancers face like IP issues, billing, etc.  There could be panels for artists that explore digital tools.  The amount of useful, focused, applicable opportunities is broad.

So what do you think? I’ll be suggesting it for a few conventions. What about you?

– Steven “Get On This Track” Savage