Written by Marlita Khan
One of the best things I’ve done here at Berkeley is to become involved in Communities of Practice (COPs). What are COPs? COPs bring together staff with similar professional interests, and serve as a community to share knowledge and offer professional development. They develop a shared collective of resources and tools to enhance particular skills. You can learn more about them at http://stafforg.berkeley.edu/organizations/communities-practice.
Why has becoming involved in COPs been one of the best things I’ve done on campus? Two main reasons:
- They helped me become part of the Berkeley community. During the first years I was on campus most of my work had me focused outward, and I didn’t really feel integrated into the Berkeley community. I didn’t know there were Communities of Practice, or Staff Orgs. Becoming involved in the COPs gave me community; I guess they lived up to their name. More on the benefits below.
- I’ve learned a ton. You know our staff is smart, and in the COPs, they bring out their smarts sharing what they’ve learned the hard way, and being generous with information, tools and stories. And sometimes with a sense of humor.
Being part of the community has benefited me beyond camaraderie. As I do my official work on campus, I learn of opportunities to share my service (Imagine Document Imaging and Management) so campus can benefit from it; I discover people and units who need other services and initiatives I am involved in (e.g. IT Knowledge Management and electronic signatures) so I can move them forward; I find out what other tools and initiatives are on campus that might be useful for my team, my customers and my network. And that’s exciting and motivating.
There are a myriad of Communities of Practice on campus and staff volunteers run them all. And they need our involvement to be successful. This gives you an opportunity to practice your leadership and organizational skills. Or perhaps to hone your skills in web building or PR or speaking or facilitating. Any number of contributions is welcome and needed and all of your contributions will build your skills, experience and visibility portfolio.
Even if you don’t become a volunteer, going to COP events are well worth it. You still meet folks, learn a lot and have more energy for the rest of your day.
Check out this list of our COPs: http://stafforg.berkeley.edu/organizations/communities-practice
Then go check out any that interest you.
If you have a story about a COP you have been involved with or found really helpful, please tell us about it in the comments section below, or submit your story to get published on the Wisdom Cafe’.