In my day job, I manage professional development programs. And in that field the trend has moved to offering bite-sized training. Appetizers, if you will. Rather than committing someone to a full three-course meal (or more!) of training, we know adults learn best when single-tasked and focused, and in smaller chunks, particularly as we get bombarded with more and more information.
This applies really well to graduate school training too.
One of the foremost thinkers in how we can overhaul the graduate school experience to address career planning is Leonard Cassuto. In addition to his excellent book The Graduate School Mess (which should be required reading for anyone interested in the topic), he also writes a series for the Chronicle of Higher Education called the Graduate Adviser. His latest post, “Outcomes-based Graduate School: The Humanities Edition” illustrates how one university – Lehigh – tackled overhauling its graduate curriculum in English.
There’s several things to note in how they went about this.
Sometimes I have a client who is stuck. Stuck in a rut, stuck in a dead-end job, or stuck at the top of a ladder by themselves, with (literally) no backup supporting the ladder.
Today I met with a woman who has what on paper is a highly successful career in her industry. She has been with a company she loves for a long time, and she has had many promotions over time and climbed higher and higher within the organization.
Sometimes, that sounds like what we all want, but my point is that it’s not always what *everyone* wants. She doesn’t want the level of responsibility and pressure she finds herself at now.
I do a lot of career planning with my clients, and these are the top 3 options that I return to over and over again. I’ll walk you through the pros and cons of each, and how to put each one into practice.
I used to work in museums. And there were generally two ways to break into the field. The first was to work an entry-level job and eventually move your way up. You would spend your first couple of years being an assistant to someone, answering phones, stuffing envelopes, and staffing fundraisers, with the idea being that you would already have your foot in the door when a better job came open. The second was to take on a position of high responsibilities in a tiny, understaffed (because underfunded) organization. That’s the route I took.
I worked on a staff of 4, which became a staff of 3, and then 2, and so I was in way over my head. And with nobody to mentor me because again: understaffed and underfunded.
Hopefully times are different now, because even then, in 2006, when I reached out to the larger well-established museum in town practically BEGGING someone to mentor me, I got no reply. At all.