What would I change about my career? Well, the snarky answer would be nothing but then again, I would be lying. There are lots of things about my career that I would change if I had the chance. I am 48 years old. And while I still have about 20 years left in my career, I have more days behind me than ahead. And this is a reflective time for me. My boss and one of my mentors for the past 10 years, the VPSA at UCF, Dr. Maribeth Ehasz is retiring. This is her last week at her post that she has held for 16 years and after a 40+ year career. As I am watching her make this transition, I am often asking myself, how do I make the most of the time remaining in my career.
And I think that I have found that change and it is rooted in the past. The first thing I would change is I would have started writing more and more often. While I am proud of the scholar, practitioner work I have done to date I know I can be much better at it and I wish I had figured out how much joy is brings me sooner. I also like the research aspect of the work. I have been reading through old issues of the Journal of Higher Education and it has really put into frame what kind of legacy do I want to leave? For me, its to contribute something significant to the general understanding and narrative of higher education. So, starting with this project I have committed myself to just that. To research, to write and to find my voice. To use my spare time and lunch breaks to expand my reach into this world and to be a contributor to the story we are telling.
The second thing I would have done is got into employability and skills sooner. It is not only the way of the future for higher ed, but it is the main purpose for higher education. Students come to us with dreams and we are in the dream business. But most often that dream is attending college insomuch that it is using college to elevate their lives through a career of purpose. I must be honest in that for many years I left the student at graduation and moved to the incoming students and rarely checked in to make sure their lives were unfolding as planned.
That has changed dramatically. I now have a belief that the final year of college is as important as the first year in college. If we are not investing in student skill identification and building, skill articulation paired with experiential career opportunities be it an internship or class project, and helping students connect with employers then we are only getting this half right. So recently I have been searching for opportunities to do just that.
This means I have been merging my desire for scholarship with my understanding of how important employability is. With my research partners Jessica and Adam, we have developed the Campus Learning Masterplan, have a chapter on strategic planning in the works, and many more projects in the works. Together we believe that if universities would treat a student’s exit from the university with the same voracity as their first year then we would have much, much better outcomes.
So, I guess it is not change so much is getting better at understanding where my interests lie and matching that with opportunities both in my paid job and professional scholarship to match that outlook and understanding. More tomorrow.