This week’s lesson introduces Professional Storytelling and Branding as key marketing tools. The following microlectures and lessons will help you articulate your professional story, make connections between your previous professional experiences and new career, and describe your strengths, motivations, and passions.
This session will cover:
- Understand the value and purpose of storytelling in both professional and personal relationship-building contexts
- Identify and list professional accomplishments, strengths, and/or interests to share with others
- Create your personal brand as a software developer
- Tell your story effectively across multiple platforms
After you complete this lesson, you’ll synthesize your learning in this Exit Ticket.
Allow yourself 45-60 mins to read through the lesson plan and watch the video lectures below. Complete this reflection sheet as you go (make a copy by going to File > Make a copy).
Week 3 Lesson: Professional Storytelling & Branding
We’ve been focusing on your strengths and how you work, both at Turing and in previous experiences. In this lesson, we’ll build off of those conversations to craft a compelling story that describes who you are, how you came to this industry, and where you see yourself going. This is a story that you’ll tell employers, colleagues at networking events, and even your Turing community in order to build connections for your future career.
From your professional story, we’ll craft your LinkedIn summary, your resume, and your Terminal portfolio. And this is how you can inspire others through blog posts, personal websites, projects, and more.
Personal branding is the act of telling a consistent story about yourself, building out the details of this story with each profile. As you start this new career, telling your story as a new member of the software industry in as many consistent ways as possible will help you stand out and embrace that identity even more.
Section 1: Professional Storytelling
We are all inherent storytellers. Stories are how we connect with each other. From fairy tales to novels to movies to podcasts, stories provide a way for people to share their experiences with others, building empathy and awareness of our universal experiences.
Storytelling is our first step in the job search at Turing. You are a member of the software industry now, and as you start connecting with others in the industry, you need to be able to tell the story of your transition – how did you get here? How do you uniquely make up a part of this industry?
Let’s start by thinking about stories. What do you love about stories? Emma Coats, a former story artist for Pixar, shared her 22 rules for storytelling here, and we’ll use some of them to apply them to our storytelling. We’re going to start with rule #10:
Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.
Action Item: Take a few minutes before moving on to the next video to answer the questions on this note-taking sheet about a story that is meaningful to you and why you connect with it. Pulling apart this story will help you think about how you can connect with others through your own story.
Section 2: Develop Your Professional Story
Taking more lessons from Pixar as well as storytelling theory from Joseph Campbell, most stories (in the western tradition at least) follow the 3-Act Arc. Your story should too!
Act I (Set-Up)
- Inciting incident
- Turning point
Act II (Struggle)
- Obstacles & Crisis
- Looking for ways to solve the problem
- Learning what it will take to actually solve problem
Act III (Finale)
- Show what’s been learned
- Protagonist is changed
Create Your 3 Acts
To understand your own story and character arc, use the following questions to help you create that act structure:
- Act I: Who are you? (as a developer, a teammate, a worker, a career changer)
- Act II: Why are you here? (Why software development? Why now? Consider both your background but also what drives you to be in this field)
- Act III: What’s next? (Where do you see yourself going in this career?)
Telling the story of your professional transition into software development helps others understand your motives, character, and capacity to reach the goals that you’ve set for yourself. In short, your story makes others believe in you.
Your story is one of transition. These stories are inherently interesting as they have all the elements of a classic story, and most importantly, they have the important elements of change, conflict, and tension around the transition. Where are you going? What will happen next? It’s so exciting for the listener! But it also depends on how you tell that story.
Disclaimer: When we say story, this is not something that has been made up or embellished in any way. People can tell when you’re not being truthful. Rather, this is about how to make a true account of a career trajectory engaging and inspiring.
During a networking event explored in this Harvard Business Review article, senior managers who’d been downsized took turns telling what they had done before and what they were looking for next. Here are some takeaways:
- Stories that only recap a list of a person’s resume are not interesting to the listener (“First I did this, then I did this, then I did this…”)
- Stories that focus more on character motives, themes, and turning points – the moments that cause your listener to ask, “What happened next?” – are compelling to a listener.
As you continue to refine your professional story, consider your audience for different contexts and identify a theme that can connect your values and goals with the audience.
Know your Audience
Depending on the context, your story will change a little. Think about each of these scenarios and how you might adjust your story depending on your audience:
- Meet and greet networking event
- 1:1 coffee chat
- Formal interview
When you’re meeting with someone from a specific company, adjust your story to discuss how that company fits into it. Conduct research to figure out:
- What is happening with specific industries that you are interested in?
- What is happening within specific companies?
- What current challenges are important to these businessess and teams?
Decide on a Theme
Consider your values and motivations: what is something that connects your career path together? What is one theme you want employers to take away after talking with you or reading your LinkedIn profile or resume?
- What are your top strengths, values, and accomplishments?
- What value will you bring to a company?
Section 3: Telling Your Story Through Branding
Branding is telling a consistent story. You can also think about it as a process of differentiating yourself by identifying and articulating who you are with a consistent message used across platforms in order to reach a goal, such as furthering your career.
Essentially, you are your brand. This includes your image, your mission, your values, and your vision! Developing your brand is done by authentically marketing yourself and gaining visibiity on social media.
As a career changer, your story = your brand = your rebrand! Your goal is to stay true and authentic to who you are and lead with your strengths and values. What impression or story about yourself do want to create as you get rooted in the tech industry?
Why is this important? According to the online reputation management consultancy, BrandYourself:
- 82% of business decision makers said that presence in search results was an influential factor when vetting people online.
- 42% of US adults looked someone up before deciding to do business with them.
- 27% have searched for someone they met in a professional setting, such as a networking event.
- 23% of US adults have looked up a coworker.
Getting Clear on Your Brand
To help you think about what your public-facing story could include, create a holistic view of your career successes and accomplishments. Here are some additional questions to consider:
- What is your desired position in the industry? For example, a self-taught developer turned Rubyist or a Front-end developer with love for education.
- What are your values and what do you want to achieve with your brand? For example, you might value accessible education, innovative web design, or customer-centered problem solving.
- What technologies are you most passionate about? and Why? This answer will help you attract your audience. When your brand is clear and focused you will have indsutry professional seek you out.
- What will your brand say about you on social media?
Here are some additional branding resources for platforms like LinkedIn, GitHub, and Twitter.
Check for Understanding
Complete this exit ticket. Completion of this exit ticket is required for your professional development this module.
Now, take some time to build out your professional story using these prompts and then write 1-2 paragraphs to answer who are you, why are you here, and what’s next.
- Act I: Who are you?
- What do you do now? You are a developer!
- What turning points brought you to Turing?
- What core values drive your work?
Why Software Development?
- Act II: Why are you here?
- How does your background connect to your skills?
- Where did you gain a lot of the skills that you bring to the table?
- What does your social identity tell you about what you already bring to the tech industry?
How are some of these traits an assest to the tech industry?
- Act III: What’s next?
- What are you passionate about? What motivates you?
- Where do you see yourself going in this career? What impact do you want to make as a developer?
Note: you don’t need to submit your story anywhere, but you’ll want to be able to reference it again, so keep your notes somewhere you’ll be able to find them again.
Practice! Make sure to practice your story with others that you trust: your homeroom group, your accountabilibuddy, your mentor, your friends, your family, etc.
Gather as much feedback as you can:
- Is it clear why you’re entering this career?
- How can you connect with others through your story?
- How does it feel to talk about yourself?
- What’s missing that could make this story stronger?
Due Dates & Reminders
- Complete the exit ticket for today’s lesson by EOD Friday of Week 3.
- Reminder to complete your networking action step and be ready to provide information on it in your end of module survey. Take time now to set aside time to get it completed, and if you have any questions about this, please reach out to Allison on Slack @allison_reu_singer.
- If you’d like to get additional reports on your Pairin strengths, reach out to Allison on Slack (@allison_reu_singer).
- Check out upcoming PD office hours and bring your questions!