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UC Berkeley’s community-oriented approach to professional development

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UC Berkeley has taken the concept of team learning to heart — on a campuswide level — by building online learning resources that are informal, collaborative and highly social. The best part? Staff at all locations can take advantage of many free online tools, as well as the opportunity to connect with a supportive peer community.

Wisdom Cafe

We all have that one colleague or friend who seems to embody a chameleon-like ability to transform their career as their skills and interests evolve. And while the prospect of following in their footsteps may be intriguing, it sure would be helpful to understand how they went about achieving their goal. That’s where UC Berkeley’s Wisdom Café comes in: This collaborative social platform gives staff a chance to share their career stories in their own words to help guide, inform and inspire their colleagues.

Wisdom Café’s staff profiles vary, but all interviews cover basic details, such as:

  • Positions interviewees have held at UC Berkeley
  • Challenges they experienced in seeking their career explorations and transitions — and how they addressed them
  • Insights and advice for colleagues who are also navigating or considering transitioning their career

The ability to submit articles to Wisdom Cafe is limited to current UC Berkeley staff members, but all resources and interviews are accessible to the public — and much of the knowledge is universally applicable, especially within the context of UC. Here’s just a small sample of the great advice to be found:

“Many people, especially women, won’t apply for opportunities unless they have 95% of the listed skills and qualifications. Learning to put myself forward in spite of the little voice inside my head… has led me to new opportunities and positions I could have never imagined for myself.” – Andrea Lambert, chief of staff to the executive vice chancellor and provost  

“Lean into your own personal and professional continuous improvement! Never shy away from a personal or organizational weakness — unused muscles or skills atrophy. Always push yourself and your team to maximize their collective potential.” – Adam Berke, BEST regional director, Berkeley Regional Services

“You are your strongest advocate. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and push for what you know is best for your career growth.”  – Desi Gallardo, business systems analyst, Central Human Resources 

Since Wisdom Café’s revamp in early 2019, it has received more than 40,000 page views and 8,000 users. Informal & Social Learning Lead Shirley Giraldo has been flooded with positive feedback from staff at all levels in the UC Berkeley community.

“Wisdom Café allows people to connect with other staff members who they might not directly come into contact with to expand their network and community — either through the career stories or through the communities we feature on the site. Secondly, it helps them to keep learning and growth on their minds in a really easy way,” says Giraldo.

Many staff who are profiled in Wisdom Café receive informational interview requests from colleagues throughout campus who are eager to benefit from their insight.

In addition to staff profiles, Wisdom Café includes insightful “From the Editors” columns, which range from informational articles like, “Manage your energy, not your time,” to the exercise, “Team building with Myers-Briggs— building a home out of M&M’s” — the latter of which has been widely distributed within and outside of UC.

Visit Wisdom Café online and sign up for the mailing list.

Transferable Skills Library

Want more career mobility but struggling with where to begin? Why not start by building a skill that’s all but guaranteed to be useful in your next position. Berkeley’s Transferable Skills Library has articles, videos and courses for the top 20 most common skills across 800+ unrepresented UC job standards. These include:

Betweenthe Transferable Skills Library’s creation in April 2019 through December 2019, more than 1,700 viewers viewed more than 13,500 pages. The most popular skillset has been political acumen, which includes tips on improving relationships, strengthen alliances and influence mapping, among other skills.

“The way to stay ahead is to keep growth top of mind,” says Giraldo. “Even carving out an hour of time a week can make a big difference.”

For questions about Wisdom Café or the Transferable Skills Library, please contact Shirley Giraldo.

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