When you work in an academic line of work, at some point, you may find yourself facing credential regret. Credential regret is the career form of opportunity cost (an economic concept in which making one choice prevents the gain you could have gotten from selecting another alternative). Credential regret is that sinking feeling that your time spent pursuing a Ph.D. or J.D. would have been gotten you farther along in your current career by simply working instead, putting in time on the job. You would be farther along – professionally, and even financially – had you used that time to simply climb the ranks in your current job family from the get go. I would love to be able to tell you that your conclusion is probably incorrect, but the reality is that most employers – even higher ed employers – usually place greater value on the length and nature of work experience than on advanced degrees. Here are 2 points to help you understand credential regret.
International Women’s Day is coming up and #metoo has been inescapable this year, with good reason, I might add. While I’m not going to comment on that specifically, I will use this moment to reflect on women in my workplace. One of the reasons I’ve been so content in my work since landing (back) in academia has been that I have been fortunate to land in a field where I am mentored by, work for, and work alongside amazingly talented, skilled, intelligent, and compassionate women. In fact, since joining my current university department more than 7 years ago, I have consistently heard that the field I work in – which I’m not going to identify due to privacy concerns – is more than 75% women. Industry-wide, not just in my corner of the work world at my university. That turns out to be true. In fact, I guess the most recent data now show that the workforce is actually closer to 85% women. And so perhaps my own experience of working amongst a team of inspiring women leaders may not be unique, no matter where I go next. That is great news to me! And yet, we still have miles to go. Let’s talk about three problems that brings to bear.