Keep Failing Forward

When it comes to failing, where do you tend to assign blame? Knowing academics, I’m guessing that you tend to blame yourself (because often that’s true).

Let’s take a concrete example. Let’s say you are competing for a job that you really want. You put forth the effort to write a strong cover letter and tailor your resume. You get a call for a phone interview. You start to accept that this might really happen. You get an in-person interview. You give a great interview. You are charming, you’re personable, you have strong answers prepared, and you’re sensing that the committee liked you. After you leave, you start thinking that “this could be it! I might finally get the job I deserve!” You even start to publicly tell your references and circle that you did really well, and you are waiting for an offer any minute.

And then, you get the rejection email.

What’s your reaction?

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What is the goal of career planning?

I am, of course, all about career planning. You need to at least have a plan. You need your own plan (as opposed to the plans that your employer has drawn up for you).

But a lot of us struggle with the process of career planning. For good reasons. It can be overwhelming! Let’s look at why that is, and the one thing you can do to make career planning much simpler. (Hint: know the real goal or purpose for career planning, which I’ll share with you here).

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Permanently ABD

It is no secret that I ❤️ The Professor Is In. She is the Bee’s Knees. (See what I did there? Because I also heart puns? And Bees? Okay, I’ll show myself out now…) I read just about everything she puts out there.

Her most recent column: “A Few Good Reasons to Switch Graduate Programs” in The Chronicle of Higher Education only touched upon the question of “should I quit my PhD program?” but having been there – and done it – that one little aside gave me a lot to think about.

I quit for a whole host of reasons, none of which are uncommon.

First, I went into my PhD program largely because I didn’t know what else to do. I had a Master’s, and I loved higher ed, I loved learning, so why not? And my thinking was that a Master’s was better than a Bachelors when it came to competing for jobs, so obviously having a terminal degree would help me edge out even more competitors. So in large part, I exited my program with just as much “meh” as I had started with.

Except I had more cynicism.

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Are We In For a Recession? What does that Mean for your Job Search?

I am not an economist. And my crystal ball is permanently broken. But judging by an uptick in anxiety, stress, and a heightened sense of “oh, crap! I NEED to land a new job before a recession” in my inbox, it seems like all the news that a recession may be coming are taking their toll.

Again – I’ll repeat – I know NOTHING and am in no way qualified to talk about whether a recession is coming. I strongly urge you to defer to real experts in the economy. Who can tell you far better than I can whether we’re headed for a recession. Who know what on earth a yield curve is or why it’s inversion matters.

But I do have

  • emails from 2 folks saying their team is getting the axe (Layoffs)
  • loads of requests from folks looking for a new job – for all kinds of reasons. But a big theme seems to be “my workload is overwhelming me. My employer isn’t doing ANYTHING to reduce it!” which sounds to me like their employers are scaling back on hiring.
  • email from people who have been looking for a while (3+ months) and are getting more worried & discouraged (sigh! I feel ya! )

So what’s my inbox like? Should I job hunt before a recession hits? Do I just take the first offer that comes along, presuming it’s going to get rougher? Is there any point keeping up a job hunt during a recession?

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Bite-Sized Career Development

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.

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