Find a community, find a job
by Douglas E. Welch
May 21, 1999
I moved to Los Angeles in 1986 after living in a small Ohio town
(Pop. 2000) for most of my life. I had been to a slightly larger
city for college (15,000 people) and even lived in Cleveland (2
million +) for a few months. While there was much that I would
have to adapt to in Los Angeles the biggest issue I discovered
was community. Moving into the high-tech job market can feel much
the same as moving from a small town to the big city. It is up
to you to establish your own community.
Make your own community
Whether you lived in a small town or are just graduating from
college or trade school you were a member of a de facto community.
Merely by your residency or attendance you were part of the community
that surrounded you. Once you leave that community, though, you
may feel isolated and alone. Few people are going to reach out
and ask you to be part of their community. It is up to you to
build your own.
In the case of establishing a high tech career this community
can come from a variety of sources. Perhaps you have friends that
work in high tech jobs. There might be computer user groups in
your area. Whatever the source, you will find your job prospects
greatly increased if you build a community around your desired
career. By developing relationships with other high-tech careerists
you can increase all your chances for employment regardless of
whether any of you are currently employed.
Your community need not be limited to your own geographic area.
Many resources exist today for forming and joining online communities
around any number of interests. Finding like-minded people online
can help to reduce the sense of isolation that occurs when you
are building your new "real-world" community. In fact, some of
these online community members might even become members of your
It is important in any community to contribute something to its
success, whether this is helping someone with their resume or
passing alone job . By contributing you make it easier for other
people to help you in your job search.
I have arranged a small community around readers of this column.
If you are interested in participating you can visit <http://www.welchwrite.com/lists.html>
and join the Career-Op mailing list. This is a place where you
can ask questions and get the benefits of the experience of all
the other members.
Another great community to join is any volunteer organization
that can make use of your skills. I give free Internet classes
at my local library twice a month. Not only has this produced
leads and consulting jobs it has also introduced me to people
from all areas of life. Teaching everyone from senior citizens
to new college grads helps to give me a deeper understanding of
why people are using computers and how their needs differ. This
is invaluable to me in my writing and my training and consulting
business. I gain something from this community that would be difficult,
if not impossible, to gain anywhere else.
Computer User Groups
Computer User Groups provide an excellent resource for the new
high-tech careerist. Not only can you build your computer skills,
you can meet business people who might be hiring or have information
about computer positions.
I highly recommend that you get involved as a presenter at your
user group. This will raise your profile in the group and give
any possible employers a free taste of your skills and personality.
It is rare that you would get this kind of excellent exposure
in any other way. This also applies when you are doing volunteer
work. You are exposing yourself to a host of potential employers
while increasing your community.
Becoming part of a community can take a little work but it is
important that we all have a place in the world where we can feel
we belong. Building communities around your computer interests
can also help you to develop your career at the same time you
are developing your friends. Don't be afraid to reach out to like-minded
people. They are probably looking for a community just like you.
Douglas E. Welch is a freelance writer and computer consultant
in Van Nuys, California. Readers can discuss career issues with
other readers by joining the Career Opportunities Discussion on
Douglas' web page at: http://www.welchwrite.com/
He can reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org