In my professional history I have had multiple jobs. As a grad assistant I was an academic counselor, a high school teacher, an assistant in sales and marketing, an education advisor, a program coordinator, and most recently an academic counselor. My resume looks a little random if you don’t look closely but each of those jobs and the experiences they gave me, have made the SApro I am today. Without these jobs, I don’t think I would have figure out what I was interested in, and what I could do. Without experiences, as random as they look, I would not be able to help my students understand that all experiences are meaningful. I openly tell my students my own career journey in hopes to show them that each role I took helped me get to the next job or next step in discovering what I want to do.
The hardest job I have ever had was being a high school English teacher. I taught two English classes; one ninth grade general English class and one eleventh grade class that surveyed the history of British literature. The school I was teaching in practiced blocked scheduling which meant I taught 90-minute classes. In my short time being a teacher, I learned a lot. I learned that no matter how you asked a question, you will be looked at like you are speaking another language. I learned that no matter how much time you give yourself to prep for class, the only photocopier will jam. And I learned that technology will never work they way you want it to, when you want it to. By the time I left the school at the end of the semester, I developed my skills in communications, time management, and problem solving. I also learned that I was never meant to be an teacher.
The next job on my career journey was in sales and marketing. I learned I enjoyed working with people and loved being in an educational setting. Through my networks, I learned about an assistant job at Scholastic. This was perfect. My education in English and in Curriculum Development would make a great person for this job. In fact, it was my experience as a teacher that got me in. I knew how to handle multiple people with multiple needs, communicate effectively, and manage multiple projects. In the two years that I worked at Scholastic, I continued to develop my communication skills. When working with a ten-person, national sales team, I learned to prioritize each project given to me. But the one skill that I found has been the most valuable was the market research. I learned the fine art of asking a question, understanding the data, and being able to interpret the responses in order to make changes for the next program. This is where I learned assessment.
Like all entry-level jobs, my time as an assistant was coming to an end. Two opportunities came up where I had to make a choice; stay in media sales or go into higher education. I remembered how much I loved working with students as a grad student and how much I liked working in a college setting so I decided to go back into higher education. Now it may sound like a leap to go from a corporate sales job into educational advising, but the skills and knowledge I developed as a sales assistant really made sense in non-credit enrollment management. As an education advisor, I had to market courses to potential students and get my already enrolled students into other courses so that they could complete their professional certificates. My interests in education paired with my marketing background made me an effective advisor. I listened to what the students’ needs were and tried to find them the best course that would meet those needs. I helped them navigate through the curriculum and any challenges that might come up.
Fast forward to the present and I am an academic counselor working with undergraduate students within Hamilton College’s Opportunity Programs. Everyday, I get students to think about their own skills and knowledge and help them see how they can make connections to what they want may want to do. I share my career journey with my students because I want them to understand that not all paths are a straight line. That for some, myself included, we have an idea of what we want to do but learn that it’s not the right fit once we start doing it. I learned that is okay to change your mind, and change your career plans because it was not what you thought it would be. I learned that with each experience and job, it brings you closer to what you want to do. I learned to be honest with myself and assess my needs in order to do well and be well. I encourage you to do the same.
I never thought I would be working in student affairs, but with each job I took it helped me understand that I enjoy working in education, that the one-on-one work I do is meaningful, and I like helping students find out who they are. I do not think I would have come to this realization without being a teacher or a marketing assistant. Each of those jobs taught me skills that I use in my current position everyday. No experience has been a bad one and there are always ways to show someone why your work in X is relevant as long as you can make that connection. So what is your career journey and how are you connecting those experience to what you are doing or what you hope to do in the future?
> BONUS <
Podcast With Marsha Herman-Betzen on A Story of a Life in SA