Professional Identity

I like the idea of developing an online professional identity. Problem is, this requires an offline professional identity. Something I still struggle with.

Depending on the context, I’m an “arts and cultural professional,” a “folklorist,” a “public programs specialist,” a “problem-solver,” a “performance coordinator,” an “educational administrator.” There’s an arsenal of descriptors based on my experience and interests floating around in my head, and I can pull from these to craft a makeshift identity. But if there were no hiring managers to satisfy, no scholarship application committee to convince…

what do I want my professional identity to be?

We’re constantly asked to define our professional goals:

“Oh, English major, so you’re going to be a teacher?”

“I don’t think so?”

“Then what?”

[Awkward shrug]

[Concerned look]

I’m happy to be at the stage where I’ve been employed enough times that I no longer get concerned looks when I tell people what I do or what I’m studying.  But I still find it difficult to articulate my professional identity.

It’s tempting to envy those one-word professions: teacher, doctor, firefighter, accountant. But they are so widely represented in media that individuals in these professions may find their titles (and the images and meaning they invoke) limiting. So I think the ability to create an online professional identity is meaningful to everyone, not just those of us with professional identity crises.

A quick Google search to find this definition: “Professional identity is defined as one’s professional self-concept based on attributes, beliefs, values, motives, and experiences” (Ibarra, 1999; Schein, 1978).

Attributes. beliefs. values. motives. experiences… that’s a lot to consider.

I’d like to use this blog to explore the idea of professional identity: learn how others construct theirs and begin to construct my own. Not a makeshift one, but one that feels like me.