I’ve just finished hosting my first group coaching call and I’m feeling pretty darn good about it. That’s how I feel about my life these days in general: pretty darn good. A year ago—less, even—I was jokingly telling friends and acquaintances that I was a loser with a PhD. I was only half joking.
How did I get here?
When I finished my PhD in history in February 2012, I knew where I was headed. I was already doing occasional freelance jobs as a researcher and administrative assistant, and liked the project-based work and flexibility of being self-employed. My plan was to carry on, adding more clients and taking on more challenging assignments. But things didn’t work out that way, and by the time I graduated in June, I wasn’t feeling so great about where I was at. Come the fall, I’d realized that Things Needed To Change. I quit one uninspiring part-time gig and started getting serious about my career search.
One of my very first steps was hiring a career coach. I didn’t set out to do this, but when the opportunity presented itself, I knew I had to give it a try. And you know what? It was an amazing experience. My coach had my back in the way no one else did at the time. (No one else could, really.) And when big change is afoot, support, encouragement, and focus are imperative. Slowly but surely I felt better about my skills and experiences, and empowered to do what was right for me. I took to the coaching process so well that in May 2013 I started training to become a coach myself! In July I had my first paying clients.
Meanwhile, once I began to feel better about myself, I wanted to share what I’d learned with others. In December I started a blog called From PhD to Life. Within weeks I was discovering the amazing community of like-minded PhDs, ABDs, and others out there who were having the conversations I’d never had while inside academia. And now I’m thrilled to be able to bring University Affairs readers into these discussions. Join me on my journey, and read about how others transitioned from graduate school to life beyond the tenure-track. I’m excited to keep learning, sharing, and celebrating along with you.