With the future of work always on my mind, I often think about how awesome it would be if sci-fi caught up with us. The recent NCDA conference in Orlando was a whirlwind of storytelling, story listening, connecting, game playing and learning for our OneLifeTools team. We had to make some tough choices about which sessions we could attend, as did so many of our fellow conference attendees.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could time travel and attend all the workshops, round tables and career talks that we missed? I’d love to know the key take-aways that presenters shared. I’m keen to learn their suggestions for deeper dives into the subject matter. Oh, to be a fly on the wall and hear what other attendees asked during the session, and how the presenters answered their questions.
If you missed one of our team’s workshops, you’re in luck! While I don’t have a time machine, I do have exclusive access to our presenters, including our co-founders Rich Feller and Mark Franklin, and I asked them those three questions. Read on for a quick trip into the past.
Professional Development that Creates Joy at Work: What Grad School Can't Teach, with Rich Feller & Richard Knowdell
Rich explained his key take-away as “follow things on the edge”. Career professionals often use only what they’ve been taught in graduate school. Constant professional development is the only way to find disruptive tools. The tools showcased were Who You Are Matters!, a narrative approach to careers disguised as a boardgame; YouScience, an aptitudes assessment where clients play ‘brain games’ online; Type Coach, hailed as the next evolution in personality type discovery and the Knowdell Card Sorting system, a kinetic intervention that touches on motivated skills, values and leisure activities. Following what’s on the fringes of the field is vital, and using a holistic approach allows career professionals to integrate results and learning from a variety of tools.
An attendee asked how to scale the Who You Are Matters game from 5 players to a group of 100+, and Rich recommended using slides to review instructions with larger groups, and to begin with a mini-keynote that sets expectations. For a deeper dive, he would have loved to have workshop attendees play a round of the game. Once people do this, Rich shared, “they are convinced about the power of story in career development”.
Narrative Assessment: Game and Tools to Support Career Advancement in Any Organization, with Mark Franklin and Jenn Long
Mark and Jenn explained two key take-aways. First, Jenn outlined that a Narrative Assessment approach to career development meets the changing needs of the new world of work where our clients increasingly own their own career development. She added: “They must be prepared with a depth of self-awareness/knowledge and practice of looking for clues and taking inspired action”. Second, Who You Are Matters is a solution across diverse client and employee populations, with multiple uses both outside of and within organizations, “from professional development to internal career management for employees to team building” as Mark explained.
Mark and Jenn noted that among attendees the concept of accountability was echoed, and that sustainable action after a career intervention is critical, and sometimes missing, in our work. Mark elaborated on the concept of a capability partner, rather than an accountability partner. The distinction: a capability partner supports you in the knowledge that you are capable of action, whereas with an accountability partner, the responsibility rests outside of yourself.
They both encouraged deeper dives into the foundations of the OneLifeTools blended delivery approach: from group experience to self-directed to 1-on-1 with a career practitioner. The approach addresses areas where they’ve seen gaps in service that are all critical to our clients successfully navigating their career development, multiple transitions, and empowered steps. Among these - Storylistening, Appreciation, Clues, Intentional Exploration and Inspired Action are all key foundations.
Positive Impact of Career Courses: International Case Studies to Empower Your Teaching and Practice, with Mark Franklin and Michael Stebleton
There were two key take-aways in this session. The first: the importance of striking a balance between holistic career development and skill building. Mike explained that “as a guiding framework, narrative approaches can serve as a helpful lens as students develop their own stories and language around their competencies and interests.” Mark picked up this thread, and elaborated on the importance of balancing career development with employability skills. Mike explained his course content through the 10 core career competencies on his campus, and Mark used NACE. Both of these help clients navigate careers transitions. Mike added: “students enjoyed discussing their career stories with each other, and they learned that other students shared similar challenges and rewards as they did in their career journeys”.
The second take-away: Mark noted the difference between US & Canada. In the States, there is a clear interest in for-credit career management courses as a crucial delivery method for career-life decision-making processes that go beyond what’s offered by student services, and we have yet to catch up in Canada.
One participant inquired about institutional buy-in for career management courses on campus. Mike explained: “it is critical to garner support from key decision-makers in this collaborative effort, including Deans and department chairs”. It is also vital that students are aware of career management courses offered through their college/department, so marketing and promotion of these courses is also vital to ensure students are aware as they begin to enrol in upcoming classes.
Mark would encourage a deeper dive into narrative outcome studies that measure the HERO traits in clients: hope, self-efficacy, resilience and optimism.
Who You Are Matters! A Social and Fun Narrative Assessment Game, with Mark Franklin and Alan Jones
Alan and Mark explained their key take-away for the session: Who You Are Matters is a fun, social, easy to use intervention for groups who want to deepen self-awareness and career clarification. It also builds group relationships.
An attendee asked how the game can be used in a casual, on-campus setting, and they learned that it is “great with groups like student clubs”, as Alan noted, “used at the beginning of the school year. It's feels light but allows for deep career-related reflection”. Another bonus: the game is a great stepping stone for future encounters: “Students will remember it and bring up how they were involved and how much they liked the experience."
Mark would encourage an exploration of the next steps that players can take after the game.
That’s our NCDA recap folks! If you’d like to take another trip, you can visit our evidence page for the references our team listed during the sessions. Time Travellers welcome!