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Get Your Geek On: Professional Identity

Professional Identity by Tracy Wilson


The Career Planning Checklist (Capella University, 2016a) provides a wonderful resource for career preparation and projection.  I have taken many of the steps already outlined.  I explored the Career Center during orientation, and my enrollment advisor gave me information about career opportunities.

Within the first couple of weeks attending class, I joined the American Psychological Association (general membership) and Divisions 2 and 15.  Division 2 is specifically for teaching psychology.  Division 15 is the branch for educational psychology.  Because I live in a rural area, there are no local chapters or associations to join for my field of study.

Before I began my doctoral studies, I joined LinkedIn.  However, when I enrolled, I expanded my networking base.  I became a member of the Facebook Group for Capella as well.  I also joined the Educational Psychology Specialization group, the Psychology Club, and the PhD Sister’s Group at Capella.

I am already teaching Social Sciences.  Based on the information provided by the checklist (Capella University, 2016a), this will be beneficial in the entire career planning stages.  My position allows me to shadow colleagues and discuss plans, challenges, and aspirations.

In January, I volunteered to be an anchor for a project through the Education Department at the university where I work.  The project was called Reinforcing Student-Centered Classrooms at the College Level.  The workshop was held once a month for an hour.  The meetings allowed a small group of faculty members to come together and explore visible learning along with best-practice teaching models.  At our final meeting, we attended a presentation about metacognition.  The anchoring experience was enlightening and very valuable.

The last part of the checklist (Capella University, 2016a) that I have already completed is the Curriculum Vitae.  My department chair encouraged me to apply for a visiting professor’s position in April.  He made it very clear that the likelihood of being chosen was remote, but that the application process would show me how detailed materials had to be.  He was correct.  I was the only applicant, but because I do not have my Ph.D. yet, I could not be offered the position.  They have sense suspended their search for the vacancy.

The Unexplored

Based on the checklist (Capella University, 2016a), there were areas I have not considered, and therefore, are unexplored.  One of those areas is record keeping.  I have not yet developed a way to track contacts.  Fortunately, I have Microsoft Office on my computer.  I can add and track my contacts with an Excel spreadsheet.  Using the software will allow me to organize and retrieve names, phone numbers, and email addresses.

I was also unaware of the Competency Translator (Capella University, 2016b).  By consistently revising it, I can update my CV.  It also provides the opportunity for me to reflect on what I learn, skills I gain, and gaps where I can make improvements.

Although I constantly search for jobs, the tools in the Career Center were unfamiliar to me.  I have already bookmarked them on my computer.  I can easily pull up the saved websites and keep checking listings.  Searching job listings on a regular basis also helps me see what employers are looking for and what may be changing.

The portfolio was another aspect I was not aware of, and I love the concept!  I have already printed out my student evaluations from the Fall 2016 and Spring 2017.  I intend to add them to my portfolio.  I have also included my teaching philosophy.  Additionally, I have included a “Thank You” card from the students in my Psychology 1101 class.

Action Steps

As I look ahead, I have developed a few action steps that will help me develop my professional identity.  One of those steps will be to utilize the Competency Translator (Capella University, 2016b).  Each class I take will be added to that list, along with skills and completed research.  I cannot even imagine what the list will look like by the time I am ready to graduate.

Another action step I will take is to continue searching for jobs.  I want to stay abreast of any changes in the field.  I want to be sure to stay up-to-date about what employers are looking for.  Furthermore, based on the job search results, I may have to relocate, so I want to be prepared for that.  The searches have revealed very little in my geographical area, but luckily the online teaching opportunities are becoming more prevalent, so moving may not be required.

Countless colleagues have also advised me to continually update my CV.  Anytime I complete a presentation or paper, I can use it for my CV.  My experiences as a teaching assistant with Capella will add to my skill-set, making me more marketable when I enter the workforce.  I already have my papers and discussion boards saved to a flash-drive.  I can easily access them and use the Competency Translator (Capella University, 2016b) as a guide for making my CV more robust and comprehensive.

In the years to come, I will continue my membership with the APA and the associated divisions.  Still, there are other affiliations I would like to explore.  The associations are excellent CV builders.  They provide viable research in their publications, and shine a light on various areas of research.  As a member of the APA, and other organization, I can attend conferences and network with other professionals.


This post has explored the use of many valuable tools provided by Capella.  Proactive, diligent reflection and re-evaluation are vital to professional development.  I have outlined the areas that I was not familiar with.  I also discussed steps I can take to build my professional identity.  The goal is to obtain a position to highlight my life’s work.  Through preparation, that goal can be achieved.


Capella University.  (2016, March).  Capella University.  Retrieved from

Capella University.  (2016, June).  Capella University.  Retrieved from

Tagged: blended learning, doctoral journey, doctoral work, Educational Psychology
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