How to Stay Informed About Your Industry
With covid-19 turning our world upside down, keeping up with what’s happening in your industry can appear daunting. Maybe you were registered for an industry-specific event, and it’s been cancelled. Maybe you had planned a coffee date with someone in your field, and it had to be postponed until…when exactly?
No doubt this is a confusing time for job seekers and career planners. But when it comes to being in the know about your industry, there remain plenty of ways to keep yourself up to speed and ahead of the curve regarding industry trends, strengths, challenges and needs. And since staying in the loop can be done quite easily through virtual means while continuing to practice physical distancing, now is the perfect time to develop your confidence in your ability to be up to speed about your field. Read on for some tips to help you continue to (or maybe finally begin to) develop your industry knowledge:
Leverage the powers of LinkedIn: Follow companies & join and participate in groups
If you haven’t jumped on the LinkedIn bandwagon yet, or if you’re like many students I see who have signed up and never done much with it, now is a good time to get comfortable with LinkedIn. LinkedIn, a free professional networking tool, is an excellent resource to help you stay in the loop about your industry. Bonus: if you already use Facebook, LinkedIn should be simple for you to get the hang of. For example, you can make a connection request, which is like making a friend request. And when you first sign in, your home feed shows you the latest posts and information from the people and groups you interact with, just like the Facebook News Feed. Use the search bar to keep tabs on current issues, hiring trends and more among companies in your industry. Search for a company in your field and click “follow” to ensure your home feed shows you what the company is posting about, and even jobs they are hiring for.
You can also search for Groups related to your industry on LinkedIn. Just enter your search term (ie. “Agriculture”) in the search box, browse through the various groups and click “join” to join the groups you are interested in learning from. Join groups and read through and/or participate in conversations related to your field. See what people are talking about; what needs, concerns, questions, and challenges are posed? Can you offer support or comment on any of them? Think about how you can position yourself to address some of these challenges, or at least contribute to the conversation to make yourself stand out in your field.
There’s truly no time like the present to give LinkedIn a try and the best part is, you can book a virtual appointment in the Experiential Learning Hub if you would like help maximizing your use of LinkedIn. We’re here to help!
Subscribe to newsletters and publications related to your industry
You may already have an awareness of some industry associations, publications, advocacy groups and the like in your field. Visit their websites and do some browsing to determine if there’s a relevant newsletter or publication you could subscribe to and receive regularly. In this way, you would be signing up for a regular, recurring dose of information pertinent to your industry.
Unsure of how to find out about these? There are several ways. First, ask those you know of and respect in your field to make recommendations – what do they subscribe to or read that’s informative? Again, browse through your LinkedIn feed. What are connections in your field posting about? Where are they getting the information/articles they are sharing from? Do some digging and asking around and you are sure to find some useful resources to subscribe to.
Find a mentor in your industry and connect with them regularly
Having a mentor in your field, particularly someone with a few years’ experience under their belt, is super helpful. A mentor can provide insight into the industry based on their own lived experience. They will likely be able to offer valuable advice and updates.
If you don’t have a mentor, some options to find one include 1) via LinkedIn, 2) asking your own network (friends, family, classmates, professors, TA’s) if they know anyone in your industry with whom they could connect you, 3) using a networking platform like Ten Thousand Coffees to search through a database of individuals willing to connect, and 4) reaching out to Alumni of your program (if related to your industry of choice). Unsure of how to approach a potential mentor and make the ask? Book an appointment with a Career Advisor to talk strategy.
Listening to a podcast or watching a video about a topic related to your industry will help to broaden your understanding of topics related to your field. You'll be able to listen to varying viewpoints from industry leaders and better understand current issues. This is a great way to enhance your vocabulary within your field and develop an awareness of some of the key players.
Some popular and user-friendly tools to discover podcasts include the Podcasts app for iPhone and iPad. For Android phones and tablets, try Google Podcasts or RadioPublic. For videos, YouTube is always a popular choice and Daily Motion is much the same.
Explore & participate in (virtual) conferences, webinars, events, & training sessions related to your field
Did that event you had your eyes set on truly get cancelled or is an alternate, virtual event on the horizon? Many organizations have started to roll out virtual versions of events or training opportunities they had to cancel, and if there’s a positive to being under quarantine right now, it’s that some of these opportunities are likely more accessible to you than they were before.
Travel time is no longer a factor. Neither is finding and paying for accommodations. And speaking of paying, many virtual events are currently being offered for free as companies work to re-engage individuals in their content and work on developing their expertise in providing virtual content. If you apply some of the advice above, you’re likely to find out about some opportunities to virtually participate in professional development opportunities related to your field.
Have you found any other avenues that help you stay in the know about your industry? Share them with us! And happy information finding!
Karolina Rachtan, Career Advisor