The problem of interdisciplinary careers

September 21, 2017 in #skills #interdisciplinary #workshop

When you studied more than one discipline, when you switched between working in public and private sector, when your interests span many topics and your projects are diverging...
How do you create a coherent resumé that would not get rejected by the HR bots, but actually attract the attention of the potential employers, clients and collaborators?

Many people with atypical background struggle to identify a coherent approach to presenting themselves, and they resort to discarding what is the most interesting aspect of their experience - interdisciplinarity and adaptability.

I have struggled myself to explain why I keep on working on biology and education, on science and pedagogy. But then I discovered I am not the only one, and that several terms exist which describe people who do not fit inside the box. "Multipotentialite", "polymath", as presented in the TED talk by a career coach Emilie Wapnick[1]. And instead of saying you are juggling multiple jobs, it sounds better to say you have a "portfolio career"[2]. So is pursuing multiple interestes and developing expertise in several domains something that you experienced or plan to do?

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” ― Confucius

An important step in thinking of our professional future is to avoid the error of reducing ourselves to our training and formal experience. Rather, we can leaf through our lives and analyse what our passions are, how they have changed through time, and which skills and knowledge we have acquired through both formal and informal activities we filled our daily lives with.

Working with university students of different profiles, I realised that many of them have troubles identifying their strong points, because they believe that they do not have any skills or knowledge that could be interesting in the professional world.

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"From a visual CV to an outstanding resumé" workshop

To help in their reflection process, I designed a 2 hour workshop where I make use of visual thinking techniques to help the participants examine their interests and experience. Inspired by Randy Krum's book Cool Infographics[3], and especially a chapter on infographic resumes, I share examples of infographic portfolios of Michael Anderson, and Antonio di Vico to start the analysis of learning paths.

This workshop is intended for all who wish to present themselves in a different light to potential clients, partners or employers.
You will use creative and visual techniques to analyse your recent work and education history, to reflect on your hidden skills and to highlight your advantages.
At the end of this active learning session, you will understand yourself better and improve your chances of standing out from the crowd in professional encounters.

Having your CV at hand is useful, as well as a computer, so you can update it immediately after the workshop, or even use some of the visual CV tools that exist online (here is my example created by

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  1. Wapnick, Emilie. Why Some of Us Don’t Have One True Calling. Accessed September 21, 2017. ↩︎

  2. Dawood, Sarah. “Could a Portfolio Career Be for You?” The Guardian, November 27, 2014, sec. Education. ↩︎

  3. Krum, Randy. Cool Infographics: Effective Communication with Data Visualization and Design. 1 edition. Indianapolis, IN: Wiley, 2013. ↩︎

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