In my blog post “Letting Go” I talked about my feelings around losing my job and how to connect with a community of professionals. I wasn’t sure what would happen. Between a mandatory COVID-19 lockdown and no longer having a job, my life was pretty much completely turned upside down in April 2020. On top of this I was grieving the loss of my team - a team that was my professional family - and feeling guilty about leaving all of my university partners hanging in the middle of a pandemic. I tried to come up with a game plan to move forward, but I didn’t want to. I wanted to binge watch tv or hide in some fantasy novel. Reality was too much. So I gave myself some time to hide while internally processing everything. During this I also acknowledged that I was incredibly fortunate that I could take time to hide. I had family as a safety net to fall back on. This was a blessing that I know not everyone was or is fortunate to have.
I took a couple of days to let things settle but the “Type A” planner in me couldn’t do that for long. Don’t get me wrong: I wasn’t “over” any of it yet but was able to put aside enough of the feelings to at least have follow up conversations with colleagues on the projects I could support with and begin that oh so gruesome process of updating my resume (mind you, I feel that way despite being a trained Career Counselor). Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait too long for a full-time opportunity to present itself: a university partner I had been working with saw an opportunity to integrate me into his career services team. I actually initially declined the offer. I didn’t think it was a direction in which I wanted to go. I was apprehensive about moving away from international education, a space I’d been in for over a decade, but after more conversation around the role and the potential it presented, I said yes. I became excited about this new role, however, this unexpected opportunity also put me in a strange predicament. I held off on telling many people and delayed the now traditional LinkedIn job update. I was proud of the fact that I was a strong candidate and managed to secure a position quickly, but I also felt guilty. So many of my colleagues were struggling with decisions around how to support their families and what was next for them and here I was excited about what lay ahead. I eventually told folks and everyone was happy for me but that didn’t take away from the initial hesitancy I had experienced.
Now, here I am 10 months later feeling fortunate for the support and mentorship I have received, the team I work with, the students I support on a daily basis, and the personal and career growth I have experienced through these tumultuous times.
Is this the career path I saw for myself? No. But our career paths are rarely linear. They twist and turn in ways that force us to adapt and learn more about ourselves and the world around us. I’ll be honest, a part of me is still grieving my old work, team, and the plans that I had for myself. But I am also content knowing that I am still connected to that world via colleagues, volunteer work through organizations like Diversity Abroad, The Global Leadership League, and NAFSA and most importantly intention. Despite the fact that I went from being the Director of Academic Partnerships who was working with universities around the world to create international internship programs to now a Career Services Manager supporting students with their career goals in a domestic space, this doesn’t mean I’ve lost any of the expertise I had around study abroad. In fact, I bring all of that to my current role and I am learning new aspects and perspectives of higher education. I don’t know if I’ll make my way back to international education at some point in the future, but I do know that the skills I’m gaining now are only going to help me on my path, whatever that may shape up to be.#COVID19#ProfessionalDevelopment