Friday, November 28, 2008

Spanish Community-based Learning and Social Networks: A Tool for Your Job Search

I love Facebook (and so do my students), and I'm always interested in finding ways to make students' Spanish community-based learning experiences translate to their future careers. So I was very interested in an article I saw recently, "Social networking sites dos and don'ts" from

"Employers are checking job applicant's profiles on sites like Facebook, Brightfuse and LinkedIn, according to a recent survey," the article states.

It also quotes an expert who says: "Get rid of your digital dirt [when job hunting]."

Specific dos and don'ts in the article include:
  • Do update your profile regularly.
  • Don't badmouth your current or previous employer.
  • Do join groups...selectively.
  • Don't mention your job search if you're still employed.
  • Do go on the offensive.
  • Don't forget others can see your friends.

These all make perfect sense. But what does that have to do with Spanish community-based learning? Well, here are some dos and donts if you want your Spanish community-based learning work to help you in your job search and professional networking. (Remember, employers value experiential learning!)

  • Do post updates about your CBL class and work. "Julia is helping a Spanish-speaking client fill out tax forms at the Refugee Center." "Ray is psyched that the kids in the 3rd grade BTW class are happy when he arrives each Tuesday at 2:00." "Kelly wrote down all the phone numbers correctly in class when the teacher read them in Spanish real fast. Ready to ace the test!" Updates like these show potential employers that you take your work seriously, it's a part of your life. They also give a glimpse into what you actually do and accomplish in Spanish community-based learning. A simple line on your resume or transcript can't do that.
  • Do post pictures of yourself in work/professional contexts. It helps form an image of you as someone who "fits" in a workplace, even if your workplace is a school or rather informal.
  • Don't post pictures of minors or others who haven't given permission. Alternatively, you can take pictures that don't show people's faces.
  • Do friend people from the community if they are also on your social network system. Being friends with people from various backgrounds, ages, etc. can show that you are a person with breadth, that you can relate to many types of people. Remember though, if you are friends with professional people then you should look professional as well.
  • Do upload videos of you speaking in Spanish. If you did diarios digitales or reflexiones orales you can upload them. They can prove that you do speak Spanish. If your potential employer also speaks Spanish, they can see your critical thinking skills in what you say.
  • Don't upload a video with bad Spanish or overly simplistic ideas. Your Spanish may not be perfect, but you should speak clearly, confidently and as error-free as possible. Ask someone to check your Spanish so you can correct it.
  • Do write a note explaining your community-based learning work. A note gives you a chance to go more into depth about your experiences. What tasks did you perform in Spanish? What do you consider to be your accomplishments (this is different than tasks) on the job? What did you learn about the community? Yourself? If you studied abroad, how does this experience add to the skills and knowledge you gained from that experience? Did you work on a team project for the course? What did you learn about teamwork? What did you learn about working in a multicultural environment? What did you learn about your ability to take (or not take) risks? To work independently? There's no end to what you can write about in a note that will make you look attractive to an employer who wants someone who has done experiential learning, can speak Spanish with native speakers, and has worked effectively in multicultural settings.
  • Don't write cliches or superficial thoughts. Show that you have reflected on your experiences. learned from them and are ready to apply that learning in your next job.


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