Fulbright Association Conference: Your Career – The Next Step

Currently, I am attending the 40th Fulbright Association National Conference.  Today I was part of an event looking at careers for Fulbright grantees.  The session attracted mostly younger returning professionals looking at translating their overseas experiences into a career path.

I was joined on the panel by Spencer Niles of the College of William and Mary and the National Career Development Association, Sherry Mueller from American University and the co-author of Working World (Georgetown University Press, 2015), and Nada Glick, a board member of the Fulbright Association.

Spencer shared about his hope-centered career development model.  A major focus of the model is self-reflection.  He emphasized the need for career seekers to be mindful of what they trying to achieve and incorporate mindfulness in their day.  Sherry Mueller looked at networking as an important means to starting a career and the importance of face-to-face encounters.  Nada talked about the importance of resumes and cover letters.



In my presentation, I focused on five considerations as essential in today’s career search. They are below:

Screen Shot 2017-11-05 at 8.04.06 PMToday, many are advocating the need to seek meaning and purpose in work, rather than other motivations.  Writers such as Emily Esfahani Smith and Daniel Pink suggest that meaning and purpose are more in line with our nature.  Flow refers to the work of Mihály Csíkszentmihályi.Screen Shot 2017-11-05 at 8.04.14 PMTrends are suggesting that the future of careers is unknown, and that the gig economy will dominate.

Screen Shot 2017-11-07 at 11.13.25 AM

Daniel Pink and others argue that professionals that can work in the intersection of fields will be most needed in the future: these are known as boundary crossers.

Screen Shot 2017-11-05 at 8.04.44 PMMany are suggesting that focusing on soft skills is important today.  Research is suggesting that we are losing many of  these important humanistic abilities. Screen Shot 2017-11-05 at 8.04.52 PM

Finally, researchers such as Burnett and Evans, are suggesting that designing career pathways is the best approach today.

The questions asked by the audience were wide ranging including what were the best ways of following up after meeting someone at a conference (It was recommended inquiring about an information interview), what skills to develop in light of the gig economy (I recommended program management, grants writing, and team building skills), and how to prepare for international work (Engaging in overseas work and learning foreign languages was recommended).

This was followed by individual counseling sessions with young professionals were their resumes and cover letters were examined.  Nearly 20 individuals sought career advice.


Published by David J. Smith

I am a career coach, consultant, and head of a not for profit - the Forage Center - that offers humanitarian education training. I also teach at George Mason University and Drexel University. A one time lawyer, I spent many years teaching in a community college where I was a Fulbright U.S. Scholar teaching in Estonia. I'm the author of Peace Jobs: A Student's Guide to Starting a Career Working for Peace (IAP 2016). I've been married to my best friend for over 31 years and we have two well adjusted adult children who teach me something new everyday. I live in Rockville, Maryland.

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