I am 48 years old. While that is by no means old, it is about halfway, career wise. I began working full-time professionally at 24 years old. That means I have 24 years in the game. I plan to retire in my mid-60s just like the stereotype is and move to Florida and like in a 55 and over trailer park. You know, drive the golfcart, enjoy my AARP discounts, play shuffleboard, complain about kids these days, and hit up the local Sizzler for the senior tenderloin and glass of wine. I plan to have a real retirement. So, if that is the case, I need to plan out the remining time I have in my career.
We tell students all the time to have a career plan and research tells us students who set goals both educationally and career wise are far more likely to achieve them. Well, if it is good for our students then I should be willing to take on such a task. This post will explore this avenue for personal and professional development.
I need to start by acknowledging that the goals I had at 24 have changed. The postscript on the goals challenge for students is to also give students permission to change as their lives and needs change. For me it was that a few years ago I no longer had a desire for become a Vice-President for Student Affairs. I am sure it coincided with my role at the Florida Consortium, but I also think teaching in the higher ed program at UCF also helped change my goals and looks for a different path. That is because I saw my ability to contribute change. As a person who values research, teaching, and mentorship I felt the best way I can impact our field was to provide support and coaching to the next generation of leaders and to support our current leaders with the information they will need to make decisions. I find I am at my best when I am managing up and down.
So, where does that put me in terms of the three goals for the rest of my career? It places my goals into a more personal track to career success. One where I am pulling the kind of satisfaction from the role than I am personal power or wealth. Afterall, I have never been a power-hungry guy. I appreciate influence not power. So here are my three goals.
Faculty – I want to end my career as a full-time faculty member for a Higher Ed program somewhere. I love teaching class and working with students. It is basically my favorite thing. But let us be honest, while I am not looking to get rich, there is a pay drop off for me at the moment. As I get more financially secure, I hope to be able to make this move and join a faculty where I can also coordinate the master’s program in higher ed. I think helping students through this critical time is the bee’s knees.
Writing – This blog is my start to write a lot more. I live the art of wordsmithing and telling stories, so I hope to write a lot more. My first project will be to start my blogging on the history of the Journal of Higher Education. The journal began in 1930 and folded its tent in 2015. Inside its archives is the documented history of our profession. I want to catalog that history and shine a light on how much we have and have not changed and how we can prepare for the future. I hope this will lead to writing a book someday. I have written chapters but have not yet done a book. I think that would be a lot of fun!
Consult – My final goal is to do formal consulting. I have done some in the past. Coordinate CAS reviews of Student Affairs units and be hired to evaluate a program but I want to really get a gig where I can teach a unit about how to incorporate exciting best practices and elevate their work. Afterall, I do not see higher education as a competition but as a network where the goal is student success for all students. If I can lend my expertise to make this happen then that would be cool.
Notice they all have one thing in common, they are a kind of a freelance set of goals. That is because I believe higher ed will become more of a gig economy in the future and successful professionals will figure out skills lead to opportunities and not necessarily jobs. Many of us will be piecing together our careers and the traditional student affairs trajectory will change. I am okay with that because I like the challenge. However, I only have 20 years to get there so I need to get moving!