Professional transitions take lots of courage and it’s possible at any age. The journey of career transition can be magical and exciting, but also nerve-racking.
Greg B. took a leap of faith in his late 20’s, and switched his career from corporate to higher education. His story is inspirational and I hope you find his experience a great motivation.
Q1: can you tell me about a professional transition you have had during your career?
In 2009 I made the decision to move from the corporate sector – where I worked in business intelligence and analytics for an eCommerce company – to higher education where I was recruited by the Associate Dean at a graduate business school. I was hesitant at first. I had an undergrad business degree and an MBA, but I never worked in education before. It was a tough economic time in the US, and a big leap of faith that it was going to work out. If I didn’t like it, or I wasn’t very good at it, I was in trouble. But, it seemed like a good opportunity, I liked the people I was going to work with, and I was in need of a new challenge.
Q2: thinking back to the time you were starting on your transition, how did you prepare for it? Any fears you had?
It was certainly a ‘jump right in’ transition. The people who previously ran the department were all gone, except for the department admin. So there was very little usable institutional knowledge. Thankfully there was a dedicated team of people who clocked some major hours with me to get the job done during a critical time of the year (registration and advisement). It could have been a disaster, but with some duct tape and chewing gum, we held it together. My biggest fear was that we weren’t going to be able to pull off what was needed and the students would suffer and lose faith in what we were doing. Personally, that would mean that I failed at what I was hired to do and that is hard for me to handle.
Q3: what are the most significant take-aways from your professional transition?
The biggest thing was understanding that things are not always going to go according to plan. You need to be flexible and change on the fly. The stronger the team is around you the better off you are, but you have to have confidence in yourself to be able to get things done. Personal assessment during the process can be difficult, and you will probably be overly critical, but that’s ok. If you get too caught up in the low days, you’ll become skeptical of the high days, and your confidence will be shot. Remind yourself of the goals you have set and remember that good and bad days are both on the horizon but you’ll get there.
Q4: what’s next professional goal you are working toward?
I think I’m in a great place professionally right now. I’m working on a PhD, which is both challenging and exciting, and I’m working with my university on scoping out a course to teach in the coming academic year. I want to be able to expand my knowledge base, continue to grow my role, and do everything I can to create opportunities for those I work with. I am continuing to find aspects of my field that I like (and don’t) and just try to remain focused on adding more value to my organization.