Please forgive me for my bland and non-descriptive discussion title but nothing better has come to mind.
I am currently battling the unemployment market and one career option I see for myself is highered web work as while my traditional education has not been in computer science I have worked as a web manager for two departments at two higher ed institutions.
Due to cercumstances (wife's job), I am unable to search for jobs outside of Hawaii at the moment. As such I feel that if I can't get a job with my current skills (still looking after 8 months) I need to improve upon what I have and learn new tricks of the trade.
Does anyone have any suggestions to accomplish this? I'm trying to attend webinars and the like, as well as reading books (would like to attend WordPress University but there's noway I could afford that $350 fee). I'm sure everyone here has good thoughts I should consider so I look forward to hearing your answers.
Thanks a bunch,
Don, you've just won the 2011 Higher Ed Experts Paying-Forward Scholarship (yes, I just made the name up, but I'm not kidding).
I'm happy to offer you a free pass to attend our WordPress University Webinar Series if this can help you increase your chance to find a job in higher ed.
Just email email@example.com so I can get you registered.
Nancy hits the nail on the head. Higher ed web teams are generally small and everyone needs to fill multiple roles. If you can code well and write well, you are a much more appealing candidate. Coding, design, and content are so interrelated on many web projects that an assignment to code/recode something often involves content creation, too. This might be microcontent (navigation label, link text) or longer-form content. As the manager of a higher ed web team, I rest a lot easier if I know that my team members can handle basic writing and content creation (if they are primarily coders) as well as basic markup and coding (if they are primarily writers).
I'll also note that in hiring, I look very carefully at portfolio pieces, both writing and coding. If your portfolio has prominently displayed navigation text that is misspelled—as I saw on a candidate's site a few months ago—that's a big concern for me. The faculty would eat me alive if that happened on our website. Similarly, if your code is all Dreamweaver-generated, table-based HTML, I'm going to be concerned that you don't have the HTML chops to solve the kinds of coding problems I need you to be able to solve.
So, if you're looking to improve your skills, just make sure you pay attention to both sides of your brain as you go!
I'll echo the words of others here that you need to be able to write content as well as code to stand out. In addition, I'll add that you need to develop your portfolio as in an industry such as this it will mean far more to you than your resume.
Finally, if you're serious about moving forward in higher ed, just like any other industry who you know can be as important as what you know. Get in the crowd with twitter and other services and find a way to attend conferences such as higheredweb or eduweb. Together with a good portfolio this will go a long way to getting you noticed.
As a side note, UH Manoa was looking for a web person a couple of weeks ago. I'm not sure if the position is still open but you might want to look at their site.