Two tech sites to use for unconventional career exploration

Add travel to your career development plan – made easy with AirBnB. Photo credit: Vanessa EY, Creative Commons/Flickr

When it comes to technology and our careers, we often focus on how to leverage the Big Three – Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn – to develop our personal brands. What’s often missing is the importance of being a life-long learner and explorer. Our interests change and work environments change; because of this, keeping an open mind, learning constantly, and being flexible are key factors in finding work you love.

Technology has made this easier; we can find people, places, and possibilities faster than before, we just need to be open and willing to make those connections. Below are a few websites that encourage you to reach out and learn.

Grubwithus

Meeting new people is easy when good food and good conversation are involved. Grubwithus facilitates these connections by allowing users to join groups around a particular interest and those groups select restaurants to grub at. You pay in advance, meet, then eat!

You can join and create groups on a variety of topics – I am part of the Young professionals of NYC group and have created a Techies for Good group and a Nonprofit Careers group– and it’s been great seeing how companies are using Grubwithus to build community around their work.

For example Y Combinator, a company that provides funding to startups, has hosted several dinners with companies they fund. I attended one with The Daily Muse, a digital magazine and career site for women. Aside from meeting other people passionate about writing and career development, I learned a lot about the company and got some great ideas for my own personal and professional development.

Recently, Grubwithus has allowed users to create private meals that are invitation only. So while you can certainly explore new topics and meet new people in public groups, you can cement the relationships you’ve developed by hosting a private meal. Give it a try.

AirBnB

Sometimes our silos aren’t just a matter of company; but rather of geography. A little bit of travel goes a long way in exposing us to new ideas and new ways of working. AirBnB makes travel easy by allowing you to rent a room in someone’s home.

This isn’t just less expensive than staying at a hotel; you get to have more conversations and learn more about the place you are visiting. After all, is there anything more intimate than staying at someone’s home?

I recently spent a week in Savannah, GA where I spent time learning about religion, the civil rights movement, and food (see a pattern here? I love food!). Using AirBnB, I stayed with a woman, her son, and one of her good friends. One evening, we made a big home cooked meal together and talked about our work, social change, fun places to visit in Savannah before I go, and the role of nonprofits in our cities. It’s amazing what you can learn from others around the dinner table.

Of course, there is always a risk when staying at someone’s home. That’s why I spend time reading reviews, doing research on the neighborhood where the person lives, and asking questions in advance. I am already thinking of my next trip!

How about you? What technology sites have allowed you to explore your career in new ways?