For hundreds of staff, NOW conference a key to the future

The campus’s third annual career conference drew some 500 staff to Memorial Stadium last week to learn how to make the most of their careers at UC Berkeley.

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Maria Cruz meets with career counselor Paula Jung in the coaches corner, to help pump up her resume and improve her interview skills. “I want to continue to learn and grow,” says Cruz. (UC Berkeley photo by Anne Brice)

The 2015 Next Opportunity at Work Staff Career Development Conference, known as the NOW conference, was an all-day event filled with inspiring keynote speakers and breakout workshops, from sessions on building your learning network to using your emotional intelligence in the workplace to one-on-one career coaching.

Its theme, “many ways to shine,” was inspired by author and keynote speaker David Zweig, who wrote Invisibles: The Power of Anonymous Work in an Age of Relentless Self-Promotion. 

“We live in a culture where attention is valued above all else,” he told the crowd. “We receive the message that the louder we are, the more attention we get, the better we feel. What if this is a big myth?”

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About 500 staff attended the third annual NOW conference to learn more about how to shape their own career paths at Berkeley. (UC Berkeley photo by Anne Brice)

He went on to discuss the “invisibles” — people who have important jobs, but whose work goes largely unnoticed. They work hard not for fame, but for a deep sense of satisfaction that comes from a job well done. “We all do jobs that are anonymous in many ways,” he said.

Workshops encouraged participants to build a solid network across campus and identify personal skills to seize every opportunity.

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Norton Mitchell discusses skill-building activities in a workshop titled “Manager Best Practice — How to Develop Your Staff,” led by Jennifer Chizuk. (UC Berkeley photo by Anne Brice)

In a session with career strategist Marjorie Weingrow, participants broke into pairs and gave 30-second pitches on who they are and what they do — not an easy task. After a few rounds of stumbling over words, they got it down. “At first, I focused on my responsibilities,” said one participant. “But the second time, I focused on what I’m passionate about at my job.”

In another workshop, Jennifer Chizuk, manager of staff learning and development, encouraged people to think of activities to develop skills in the workplace that promotes collaboration and leadership. Anne Marie Richard, director of student technologies, led a conversation with James Dudek, director of organizational strategy, about building a learning network that helps staff thrive in their current positions and make a career move when the time is right.

To learn more about career development opportunities on campus, visit the UC Berkeley Learning Center.