Coming from Eastern Kentucky in rural Appalachia, all the career development opportunities in D.C. never fail to impress me. From a creative competition after work to a 3-hour course on Data Analytics on a Saturday morning, I’ve been able to take part in a fair share of free events to help decide, thanks to hands-on exposure, if art & design is truly what I want as a career.
We live in an era of connectivity, and I have found online resources to be the most helpful (and cheapest) way of finding events that interest me.
Before I got to D.C., I joined a few UX/UI Design Groups specifically for the DC, Maryland, and Virginia area on Facebook, as well as a few groups on Meetup.com. These are both helpful resources for finding free events that range from classes, to panels, to competitions.
At The Washington Center, we also have access to a calendar maintained by TWC Staff that provides information on TWC events and non-TWC events.
Word of Mouth
Informational interviews are also a great resource to help point you in the right direction. I’ve conducted quite a few at this point, and engaging in these conversations with other professionals is a great way for me to learn about events that are applicable to my area of interest. It has also been so helpful to connect with a group of friends and new professionals who are also interested in similar career paths!
Thanks to online resources, I have been able to find free in-person events to attend. While online resources can be great, they can also be a bit too passive. Sometimes you just need to sit in a classroom or physically attend a lecture.
My career interests center on design and tech. General Assembly in D.C. and other major cities, is one of many institutes that has been helpful in reinforcing my career interests. But beyond that, I’ve been exposed to different tech sectors and disciplines that I otherwise wouldn’t have if I hadn’t attended courses like Intro to UX Design, Intro to Coding: HTML & CSS, and Intro to Data Analytics.
One of the biggest reasons I wanted to take a semester off from my home university and intern in Washington D.C. was to explore career options and solidify my current interests. I knew before arriving in D.C. that I was seeking personal growth.
So far my experiences have helped me achieve that growth by pushing me outside of my comfort zone and learning new skills. But more importantly, what I’ve earned here will stay with me and I’ve promised myself that I will continue this personal growth even after my experience ends here.