Career Development Category Archives - General Assembly Blog | Page 24

Why Where You Work Can Be More Important Than What You Do

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It's time we rethink the idea of a "dream job"

In my work as a creative career coach since 2008, I’ve seen this over and over again.

I’ve seen my clients think they’re in the wrong profession, only to realize it was where they were — not what they were doing — that was broken.

I’ve worked with my clients on clarifying and prioritizing their non-negotiable work qualities, and the type of work they were doing was less important than where they got to do it, and with who.

As long as they were working with insert-certain-type-of-people here on insert-bigger-mission-here, their own responsibilities mattered less and less.

At first, I was surprised at this finding. I was surprised hearing an affirmative response to the question, “Is where you work more important than what you do?” But then I kept hearing it. Again, and again, and again.

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Using Standards to Align Talent and Employers

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In our rapidly changing world, one of the biggest challenges to continued economic growth is the skills gap, which is the difference between the skills employers are looking for, and the skills available among job-seekers. For individuals, the skills gap limits upward mobility and wage growth. For companies, it limits the ability to hire the teams needed to pursue commercial opportunities.

So what’s stopping the skills gap from being quickly solved? A core obstacle is that individuals don’t know what skills to learn given the lack of clear and consistent guidelines from employers and industries as a whole. When organizations are unsure about the skills they need, they often rely on pedigree (e.g., university degrees) or experience (e.g., previous job titles) in place of specifically stated competencies that drive new, digital functions.

This construct perpetuates the skills gap on both sides of the market. Employers constrain their own talent pipelines, as they only consider a fraction of candidates with skills that match their hiring needs. On the other hand, job-seekers underinvest in new skills, as they lack clear guidance on what qualifications are required to access new roles.

The skills gap continues to grow as more automation in the workplace intensifies the need for new skills across teams. A 2017 McKinsey Global Institute report cites that “in about 60 percent of occupations, at least one-third of the constituent activities could be automated.” To stay employable, individuals need to embrace a mindset of lifelong learning that enables them to upgrade their skills, and move into roles that support and complement new technologies.

These new patterns of learning need to be coupled with additional entry points to careers and objective skill requirements that facilitate workforce mobility. Similarly, the McKinsey report predicts that “8 to 9 percent of 2030 labor demand will be in new types of occupations that have not existed before.” Thus, we must ensure workers possess not only the tactical skills but also have mobility mechanisms in place to transition into these new jobs.

For mobility to scale, job-seekers need employers in a given field to align on a set of requirements that once met, provide access to employment opportunities. One example of this alignment has emerged from General Assembly’s Marketing Standards Board, a group of leaders across the consumer, technology, media, and academic sectors who are defining career paths and critical skills in marketing.

For the past year, the group has worked to provide transparency into the marketing profession. The Board started by creating a three-level framework that defines career paths in marketing. In tandem with these efforts, the board launched the Certified Marketer Level 1 (CM1) assessment, which aligns with the foundational level of the framework. The CM1 is recognized as a standard by a growing number of companies who use it to benchmark the skill levels of their teams. Benchmarking has also proven useful for employers who wish to define and diagnose critical skills across their organizations.

The CM1 is also being used as a standard in the hiring process. General Assembly brought together a group of over 30 companies, including Calvin Klein, L’Oreal, Pinterest, Priceline, and others to recognize the skills tested on the CM1 as a common set of requirements used in recruiting. Each company in this group agreed to interview high scorers on the assessment regardless of candidates’ background. This system of skills-based selection provides new career pathways for individuals who may otherwise be overlooked in a system dependent on pedigree and experience. Among job-seekers, we received tremendous interest in taking the CM1 as an entryway to guaranteed first-round interviews with these companies. Approximately 4000 individuals registered to take the CM1 in just a few weeks, and the top 10% of test-takers qualified for a guaranteed interview.

We were delighted but not surprised to see that top scorers came from diverse backgrounds — from college seniors entering the workforce, to career-switchers looking to get their foot in the door, to experienced marketers looking for a new challenge. Likewise, our previous research in The State of Skills: Digital Marketing 2018 report revealed that strong digital marketing talent can be found outside the marketing function, and from fields such as sales and technology. Moreover, this group of top scorers confirmed that experience doesn’t necessarily predict skills. Rather, giving all registrants the chance to demonstrate their skills using a clear set of skill requirements on the CM1 assessment can create access to new job opportunities.

As a result, our employer partners were able to expand the top of their recruiting funnels, and attract more qualified candidates. These employers are helping to address the skills gap in the industry by using a skills-based approach that increases the overall supply of qualified candidates considered for marketing jobs.

General Assembly’s mission has always been to provide transparent pathways to transformational careers. We’re thankful to the Marketing Standards Board and to the companies that have partnered with us to make strides in this direction. Together, we’re working to increase the transparency and openness of the workforce, broaden talent pools, and create more entry points for aspiring marketers around the world.

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GA’s Credentials team’s mission is to help people get recognized by employers for what they can do, no matter where they come from. To learn more and get involved, get in touch with us at credentials@ga.co. To learn more about the Marketing Standards Board and the CM1 assessment, visit https://generalassemb.ly/marketing-standards-board.

10 Sentences A Product Manager Should Never Say

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Your words can be a powerful ally or your worst enemy. It all depends on how you use them. So, how often do you think deeply about what you are going to say before you say it?

Product managers, in particular, cannot afford to be careless in their speech.

After all, good product management demands leadership and requires frequent conversations with other teams as well as different external stakeholders. These are not casual conversations; instead, they have some urgency and gravity. The success or failure of the product may depend on how well the product manager communicates with others.

But mastering the art of effective communication is not easy. If you are not careful, your words can undermine your effectiveness and authority.

That is why PMs must root out responses that convey a negative attitude and shut down communication, hindering their progress as a team.

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Digital Marketing 101: How the Loyalty Loop is Replacing the Marketing Funnel

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marketing funnel image

During the past few decades, the marketing funnel served as the primary model for how people learn about a product, decide to buy, and (hopefully) become loyal customers, helping spread the word to others.

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Creative Design Inspiration – 5 Ways to Motivate Your Design Team

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2018 99u Conference General Assembly
Tyler Hartrich, faculty lead for General Assembly’s User Experience Design Immersive course, leads a session at the 2018 99u Conference. Photos by Craig Samoviski.

As design educators, we at General Assembly prepare students for their careers — but how can we ensure designers continue to grow their skills beyond the classroom? Industry-leading work emerges from teams that persistently enrich themselves by fostering new skill sets and perspectives. But between deadlines, client fire drills, and day-to-day trivialities, a focus on growth can often be put on the back burner. In the long-term, this can result in uninspired designers who don’t grow to their full potential, and teams that opt for the easy way out instead of taking on risks, challenges, and explorations that drive innovation.

When Adobe approached General Assembly about leading a session at the 99u Conference — an annual gathering for creative professionals to share ideas and get inspired to help shape the future of the industry — we knew it would be a great opportunity to guide leaders in creating natural spaces for learning within their teams and workflows.

In our sold-out session “Onboard, Engage, Energize: Tactics for Inspiring a Crack Design Team,” Tyler Hartrich, faculty lead of GA’s full-time User Experience Design Immersive course, and Adi Hanash, GA’s former head of Advanced Skills Academies, shared insights on how directors and managers can structure spaces for learning within their teams, and encourage new approaches to problem-solving. The presentation was developed in collaboration with Senior Instructional Designer Eric Newman and me, GA’s director of product design.

At the event, we outlined the following five ways leaders can encourage their teams (and themselves) to keep learning and improving throughout their careers, including an exercise to spur creativity, reflection, and action. Read on to learn more, and find out how you can perform the exercise with your own team.

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How the Marines Prepared Me for a Career in Coding

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While stationed in Okinawa, Japan, in 2008, I wouldn’t have guessed that my time in the Marine Corps would have prepared me for a future in coding. At the time, the 30 Marines in my platoon had access to just one shared computer. It served only two functions: completing online training requirements, and looking up one’s online military record. I never suspected that nine years later I would be designing and building websites and applications in an intensive software engineering course, General Assembly’s Web Development Immersive, now called Software Engineering Immersive (SEI) course.

My path toward coding was a winding one. As a Marine on active duty, I was stationed in Japan, Kenya, Sudan, Italy, and Pakistan. Later, after transferring to the Marine Corps Reserve, I pursued a bachelor’s degree in international affairs from George Washington University. While studying at GW, I worked at the nonprofit Veterans Campaign, where I was tasked with helping to rebrand the organization. Though I had little technical experience, I created an entirely new web presence for the organization and migrated its old content to the new website.

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Why Where You Work Can Be More Important Than What You Do

By

It's time we rethink the idea of a "dream job"

In my work as a creative career coach since 2008, I’ve seen this over and over again.

I’ve seen my clients think they’re in the wrong profession, only to realize it was where they were — not what they were doing — that was broken.

I’ve worked with my clients on clarifying and prioritizing their non-negotiable work qualities, and the type of work they were doing was less important than where they got to do it, and with who.

As long as they were working with insert-certain-type-of-people here on insert-bigger-mission-here, their own responsibilities mattered less and less.

At first, I was surprised at this finding. I was surprised hearing an affirmative response to the question, “Is where you work more important than what you do?” But then I kept hearing it. Again, and again, and again.

Continue reading

What Are Common Startup Job Titles and Roles?

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It takes a village to raise a startup — or at least a few dedicated individuals who can do a village’s worth of work. At a growing company, roles and duties can change quickly, and many startup employees end up wearing a lot of hats as they tackle the most important needs for the business at any given moment.

Startup Roles

Here’s a glance at some of the key roles and skill sets that drive most startups.

Founder

The founder is the person (or people) who starts the company. Some founders, like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg or Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, stay with the organization for long, or permanently, after it takes off. However, it’s not uncommon for a founder to leave at any stage of the startup’s life. Founders come from diverse career backgrounds, but what they all have in common is an entrepreneurial spirit, some level of business acumen, and a clear product vision. Startup founders don’t need to be experts in web developmentUX design, or the other disciplines below, but they should have a high-level understanding of the key skills needed to launch a tech-driven business. In order to see their vision through, founders should be strong leaders who can guide their company through funding, staffing, and scaling.

Web Development

While designers create the professional look and feel of a website or web app, web developers generate the code that makes it work. The technology that supports eCommerce sites, blogs, social networks, video streaming services, and more is built by developers.

  • Key skills: Front-end web development (HTMLCSSJavaScriptresponsive designJSON, AJAX, AngularJS), back-end web development (Ruby on RailsAPIs, Node.js, Heroku, MongoDB), collaboration, problem-solving, product development, programming fundamentals
  • Popular job titles: Chief technology officer, VP of engineering, senior web developer, junior web developer, software developer, full-stack engineer, mobile developer

User Experience (UX) Design

UX designer determines the interaction experience of a user with a website, app, device, or piece of software. It’s all about anticipating a user’s needs when using a product, and ensuring an intuitive, impactful, and delightful experience.

Product Management

Product managers are like mini CEOs. They are responsible for identifying market opportunities, defining the product being built, and determining the return on investment. They conduct customer interviews, user testing, and data analysis, and distill the insights gained into an implementable strategy. They then lead the product team to bring that strategy to life.

  • Key skills: Customer development, Agile and Lean methodologiesSWOT analysis, communication, prototypinguser interviews, wireframing and storyboarding, business model design, market research, project management, pricing and financial modeling
  • Popular job titles: Chief product officer, product manager, product lead, product owner

Data Science and Analysis

Data experts organize and collect data from a variety of sources, evaluate it, derive insights from it, and make actionable recommendations to drive the business.

  • Key skills: Pythonmachine learningSQL, UNIX, Git, R, TableauExcel, modeling techniques, data visualization, big data, natural language processing, statistics, critical thinking, storytelling and presentation skills
  • Popular job titles: Data scientist, data analyst, quantitative researcher, machine learning engineer, data science analyst, data engineer.

Digital Marketing

Digital marketers combine traditional marketing tactics with new technologies. Their domains include areas like social media, search engine optimization, online advertising, and content creation. The best digital marketers often utilize both creative and quantitative skills.

How to Land a Job at a Startup

Working in the startup world can be one of the most challenging, exhilarating, sometimes heartbreaking, and oftentimes fulfilling journeys of your life. But landing an opportunity at a startup is about more than luck. In order to break in, it helps to know the ins and outs of the startup world, and the steps to take to become a candidate who stands out from the crowd — plus some of the skills mentioned above.

In our eBook, How to Get a Job at a Startup, you’ll get a concise how-to guide for finding your dream job at a startup, through the knowledge of startup job-hunters, founders, and employers. Discover firsthand tips on how to break into a startup career, clear up confusing industry jargon, and learn about important resources that will aid you on your journey.

General Assembly believes that everyone should be empowered to pursue work they love. We hope you’ll find this book to be a helpful first step in getting there yourself.

Launch your career in startups

Learn how to start your journey with our exclusive guide.

Getting Started With Front-End Web Development

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learn to code

So, you want to learn to code? Awesome! Knowing how to code can help you level up in your current role, open new career opportunities, and empower you to make your app or website ideas come to life. But where should you start?

Although hotly contested among developers, most novice coders begin their education by learning the basics of front-end web development, or the client-facing side of web development. The front end involves what the end user sees, like the design/appearance of the web page.

In order to become a front-end developer, there are three “languages” you need to master: HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, or as I like to call them, “The Holy Trinity.”

Below, I explain the difference between these three languages, and how they work in concert to get a simple website up and running.

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How Blending Lean, Agile, and Design Thinking Will Transform Your Team

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Lean vs Agile vs Design Thinking Jeff Gothelf

Jeff Gothelf’s new book, Lean vs. Agile vs. Design Thinking

The following is an adapted excerpt from Lean vs. Agile vs. Design Thinking by designer, team leader, and business coach Jeff Gothelf.

In 2016, I was preparing with clients for an upcoming training workshop focused on coaching a cross-functional team of designers, software engineers, product managers, and business stakeholders on integrating product discovery practices into their delivery cadences. During our conversation, my client said to me, “Our tech teams are learning Agile. Our product teams are learning Lean, and our design teams are learning Design Thinking. Which one is right?”

The client found the different disciplines at odds because these seemingly complementary practices forced each discipline into different cadences, with different practices and vocabularies targeting different measures of success.

The engineering teams, using Agile, were focused on shipping bug-free code in regular release cycles (many teams call these “sprints”). Their ultimate goal was an increased velocity — the quantity of code they could ship in each sprint. Product managers, using Lean, were most interested in driving efficiency, quality, and reduction of waste through tactical backlog prioritization and grooming techniques.

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