I’m deep in job search mode, meaning I’m spending a lot of time just looking for something that might fit, and sending out applications. But there are deeper questions I should be answering: What am I actually supposed to be doing? What do I want out of my next job?
Complex questions are not always amenable to mere lists. Mind-maps are often a better tool for dealing with them. I started with a couple pencil-and-paper mind-maps, but rapidly ran out of room on my small notepad, and got frustrated with trying to erase and reorganize. So I decided to try the high-tech approach. I wanted to compare some of the better rated free mind-mapping tools out there.
MindMup: my qualifications
I organized my qualifications in MindMup, a (sort of) free online tool. It has a nice, intuitive interface, and I like that it allows users to make links between things on different branches (red dashed lines, below). It did have some glitches when I tried to move large branches and sub-trees on the graph. Frustratingly, the free version only lets you save and publish very small files directly. It does include an option to save working files to Google Drive, but it appears to only save the latest version and overwrite it, even if you try to change the name and do a “save as”. When I attempted to edit it down, I nearly lost most of my work, and there’s no “undo” :-( Below is a screen-shot of the pretty version, before I started trying to trim it down. Even edited way, way down with no pictures, I couldn’t get the file under 100Kb so that I could print or save and publish within the free version. (MindMup did control fairly nicely for creating the map, and the “Gold” version isn’t terribly expensive at US$2.99/mo, so if you’re willing to pay a little it might be a good choice.)
Coggle: my qualifications redux & qualities of my next job
I used the free online tool Coggle to generate a mind map of what I think that next job should look like. I found that Coggle behaved much better than MindMup on many things, and it allowed me to save a fairly complex mind-map for free. I re-created and expanded the mind map of my qualifications, and did one on the things I want in my next job.
XMind: how to search for my next job
XMind is open-source software with a free download for Windows, MacOS or Linux. It offers different layouts and styles. It also keeps many of its features in reserve for those who shell out for the ‘Pro’ version. I used it to do a map about ways to look my next job. I like the many options for map style and the ability to show relationships. The interface isn’t quite as slick as the others, but it’s still pretty intuitive. The free version didn’t let me add pictures. What I was able to create I could save easily locally, and I was able to get a link for a share-able version, but it doesn’t seem to load well.
List: dream jobs
I did also try the list approach, just for comparison’s sake. Here’s a list of my “dream jobs” (in no particular order) and some of the reasons I believe I would like them:
- Sustainability Pedagogy Specialist for United Nations or a big NGO
- travel internationally to give trainings for faculty professional development
- maintain and expand my coordinator role for the Education for Sustainability (EfS) Asia Community of Practice
- organize research and publications on sustainability pedagogy in higher education
- Sustainability specialist within Teaching, Learning and Pedagogy program at large university
- provide faculty professional development training
- conduct research on EfS, especially within home university and with EfS Asia collaborators
- some travel to conferences to present research
- possible gigs at other universities do do faculty development workshops
- Faculty in Sustainability Studies Program
- teach a variety of courses on sustainability themes
- lots of time in the classroom and working with students
- may include support for research, publications and/or conference travel
- Sustainability Coordinator for Higher Education Institution
- conduct faculty, administrator, and staff professional development workshops
- help organize student events, projects and clubs
- do local community outreach
- holistic view of institution and its sustainability activities (facilities, operations, purchasing, student life/co-curricular activities, research and instruction)
- represent institution and present achievements at sustainability conferences like IGEE, AASHE or CHESC
- Interdisciplinary Introduction to Sustainability course developer
- start with re-design of course at NTU, then branch out
- hop from university to university, working with local faculty to set up core courses and help design programs in interdisciplinary Sustainability Studies
- Consultant in Sustainability and Biomimicry
- reconnect with Janine Benyus, Dana Baumeister, Toby Herzlich and other biomimicry experts
- direct application of my background in evolutionary and organismal biology
- work on a variety of interesting design challenges
- perhaps apply pedagogy expertise to redesign and further development of educational materials
Listing is less satisfying, but it does help to surface and articulate some ideas. It could have been done in a mind-map, but perhaps that would be more about formatting than actually developing content.
So there you have it. To sum up the review of the free tools:
- I had the best experience with Coggle – easy to use and share results for free. Not as full featured as the others, but I’m happiest with low levels of hassle.
- MindMup was fun to play with, but the free version is not very useful for keeping and sharing files.
- XMind required a download and install. Features were good, but still awkward to share.
- Mind-mapping with paper and pencils can be frustrating to make changes and can be awkward to share.
- Listing, on paper or onscreen, still works for some things, but is less fun than mind-mapping.
Now, about that job…?