A Weekly ComputorEdge Column by Douglas E. Welch




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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.

Online Communities

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 local community.

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.

Volunteer Organizations

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 douglas@welchwrite.com