Can a move to school help your career?
Education for Career Change: Choose your Game and Choose
Because of my long
sojourn in academia, people often expect me to say, "
When it comes to education, more is better!" In reality,
I think education is part of playing a game. You just have
to choose your sport and learn the rules.
My neighbor Julia chose not to play at all. She skipped college
altogether. Now thirty-four, she has earned several promotions
in the insurance industry. She loves her job and has no regrets.
She began saving for retirement at a very early age and plans
to find a new "fun" career when she turns forty.
By then, Julia says, her retirement will be fully funded
and she has twenty-plus years to follow a low-income dream.
Alvin, one of my doctoral classmates, viewed school as hopscotch
on a playground. The joy was in the game and you never had
to worry about turning pro.
Alvin had been in grad school for fifteen years when he joined
our program. He enjoyed two years with us, studying organizational
behavior. When he ran out of courses he decided that a public
health program would be better suited to his personality and
lifestyle. We never saw him again.
Laura, on the other hand, was like a high school student
who played lacrosse because the guidance counselor said she
needed a sport on her college application.
As a student in California, she asked me for advice: "Dr.
Goodwin, my boss says I need to take more business courses.
What would you suggest?
Now I knew Laura had a Ph.D. in social psychology, superb
interpersonal skills and solid corporate experience. She'd
already taken management, marketing and finance courses.
I asked her to think about her manager's reasons for encouraging
her to stay in school. She began to suspect her manager was
using coursework as way to hold her back. She would never
have enough! She decided to negotiate with her manager and
perhaps ask for a transfer.
John was the academic equivalent of a sports phenom: a straight-A
student who loved research, was determined to be a college
professor at a top-tier research university.
John was like Chamique Holdsclaw or Diana Taurasi. He knew
that, when there's a pro league in your field, you can benefit
from playing for a top college team. He will win approval
from what Julia Cameron calls Gatekeepers, in her wonderful
small book Supplies
You choose your game and you choose your league. Many of these
decisions can influence a lifetime, but I encourage people
to remember two key principles.
First, no degree will hand you the brass ring. I've met unemployed
and underemployed folks with Harvard MBAs.
Second, if you focus on choosing the game that feels right,
you'll have all the joy and success you want in this lifetime.
Related articles: The
Mature Student and
you need that degree?
|Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D. is an author, career coach, and
speaker. She works with mid-career professionals who want to make a fast
move to career freedom. Visit her site http://www.movinglady.com
or call 505-534-4294.