You've applied and interviewed for a position, but you don't get it because you don't have a particular skill set that the employer needs. You want to learn a new tool, but the software is expensive and you can't afford to spend a lot of money on software at this time. Do either of these scenarios sound familiar to you? If they do, you have some options for learning new tools and can add to your portfolio at the same time.This article looks at the options that you have for learning software -- teaching yourself, taking classes, volunteering, and on-the-job training.
To attain your career goals, you cannot simply go to work and perform the assigned projects, allowing your manager direct your professional path for you. You must treat your working life much like you treat a documentation project and be deliberate. Take charge of your progress by volunteering to complete projects that challenge and advance your capabilities. Plan and prepare for challenging opportunities that provide you with new work experiences; identify and execute tasks that advance your skills, knowledge, and abilities; and evaluate your career development, results, and your accomplishments with each enterprise you complete.
There's a lot of volunteer work that that goes on behind the scenes by chapter members to create value. Today, I'm inviting you to get involved so you can take part in and benefit from creating value.
What do you need to design a World Wide Web site for a nonprofit organization? If you have less than $350 U.S. per year, you need knowledgeable, dedicated volunteers with HTML and design skills, and their own computers. Then you can weave the Web to fit both the readers' needs and the creators' skills. To create content and a workable organization, follow four key rules: 1) know the needs of your potential readers, 2) select a well-defined content area, 3) use available (or affordable) technology, and 4) set up a mechanism for approval, organization and change. Two Ottawa-based Web sites met these rules in different ways. Peaceweb, the World Wide Web page on Quaker peace and social concerns, set out rules for approval, organization and change first. PoloniaNet, the Polish-Canadian Web site, staked out a well-defined content area first. Each group had a strong sense of identity and a common vision. While each of the two groups had multitalented individuals, other nonprofits may need different persons to fill each of the four roles described by Joel Snyder : architect, graphics designer, programmer, and content provider.
When asked for my opinion on how to break into the Web world, I usually tell people to volunteer. I was very lucky when beginning my Web career in the early days of the Internet—my Web sites received a lot of good exposure. But when I jumped into self-employment a few years ago, I had to start all over again: I needed to show potential clients what I could do, not what my Web team could do. So I found a poorly designed Web site and offered to redesign it for free (the Oklahoma Indian Times Web site at www.okit.com). OKIT jumped at the offer (to read more about this, see “The Need for Web Site Navigation” in the June 1999 issue of Intercom). A lot of my friends thought I was crazy doing all that work for free. But I needed to build a Web site from scratch so I could give prospective clients an example of my work. Nothing is more convincing than before and after pictures.
STC communities have moved from trying to figure out how they will work in the new model to starting to make the kinds of fundamental changes and undertake initiatives that will build value for members. We are starting to understand how to 'play' within and succeed with our new rules. For UUX to undertake new initiatives, we need more members to volunteer.
Designing desktop publishing courses around a model of service familiar in the U.S.--the pro bono publico tradition of professional gratis service--would broaden students’ professional horizons in addition to meeting growing demands for service learning. Such courses would mate volunteerism with the democratic spirit of desktop publishing, a technological platform that provides a means for unrepresented voices to be heard and read. One community project is outlined.