When I started on my post-doctoral degree career in the early 1980s, I never imagined I would have six different employers along the way, yet, this has been my journey since 1978. My career transitions resulted from intentionality, serendipity, and aspirations. I have always wanted to better myself and achieve, and make a difference in the lives of others. On most personality tests, I score as a “driver,” someone with ambition. I am a driver as an individual contributor and an organization leader, always striving to increase the status quo and raise the success of the organization. I have made my career moves because of opportunities to learn more, take on new challenges, and see what might come. For example, when I left my successful organizational consulting company to move back into higher education, I did so for the following reasons: 1) After 14 years leading my consulting company, I wanted a change. Although I loved Boston, and had family and many friends there, I wanted to expand my horizons. Fortunately, new opportunities manifested. Choices came my way. This led to accepting a faculty position with Arizona State University (ASU) that launched my career as an academic administrator; 2) I left ASU for a new opportunity, leveraging my experiences in enrollment management and master planning. The latter was desirable at my new employer, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM). It turned out that my experience leading a consulting company also was on interest to my president. I assumed the leadership of the School of Continuing Education, delivering education to companies and non-profits, similar to what I had done with Empowerment Workshops in Boston. I enjoyed the entrepreneurial nature of this role and the external focus on building the brand and business of the school. I could leverage my experiences in the private sector once again.
This takes me to my current position as president of the Chicago campus of The Chicago School of Professional Psychology (TCSPP). I find myself in the most ideal situation. The School aligns with my personal values to advance diversity and social justice through our education programs and community partnerships. Second, I can collaborate with my colleagues to find innovative approaches for education in the future and integration of health and mental health in the workplace. I enjoy the opportunities to establish partnerships in Chicago, domestically and internationally to bring graduate education to more learners. There are likely other possibilities that will merge with TCSPP; it seems like the sky is the limit.
What are my final thoughts on career transitions? Plan, and be intentional. Ensure that the opportunity aligns with your personal values and goals and assesses your competencies. Determine how to adapt your goals in the new work setting, and anticipate cognitive and emotional discomfort. After all, a career transition is identity change and a development process. Use your emotional intelligence and confidence from previous work experiences, and enjoy the new opportunity.