We’ve reached the end of the third series of The Defectors, and I want to thank each of my ten participants for their consideration and candor as they shared their stories. The community that has come together around this particular stage in work has blown me away, and I’m happy to have gotten to share even a little bit of it with you this August. More will be coming from me on the topic, so I hope you’ll stay tuned!
I want to conclude this year’s edition with some final wisdom, collected from our participants. I asked each of them to answer the vague but essential question for empowerment, “Any parting words on the Defector experience?” Here are some of the answers, and the lessons they highlight:
From Greg Sadler, reluctant but now confident entrepreneur: it’s okay that you might not have imagined this for yourself when you started your career.
I never thought I’d be doing anything remotely like this ten years ago. Quite frankly, the catalyst for me was not the independence being an entrepreneur brings, or the potential of making a better income than as an underpaid university professor.
I left a position where I was coming up for early tenure and promotion, had written portions of the 10 year Quality Enhancement Plan for the university, and was carrying out university wide assessment. I did that for love, moving up to New York, where my fiancee lived and worked, in a still-terrible job market. I did continue to teach as an adjunct, but over time I became more and more a post-academic entrepreneur.
There were a lot of growing pains, setbacks, and learning experiences, but seven years in I’m doing fairly well and still growing in my profession. So I’m happy with being a “defector”!
From Ashlie Baty Petz, tech sector program manager: it’s okay to protect your time and energy by taking your skills somewhere new.
I do not regret my decision to leave and am MUCH HAPPIER in my current role (no night/weekend work!). I am financially stable and have a positive work/life blend. I wouldn’t be in my current role without my higher ed background/degree, but I am overall very glad that I made the jump to the tech industry.
From Bonnie Fox, speaker agent and frequent business owner: the impact we have on students doesn’t go away just because we do.
I loved my time with my students in Student Activities. With the help of facebook, I’ve reconnected with many of them…and loved to see the small part I had in forming them into the productive adults they are now. Some have taken my lead and left and started businesses…some have gone into the field…but it is so satisfying that with whatever they choose to do…they look back on the time we had together as one that helped steer them; mold them; teach them; empower them into the awesome people they are today.
From Liz Rader Haigler, HR pro: we need to treat each other better as we make decisions and explore options.
As SA pros we need to support people who have “left” but also support people who have “stayed”. I don’t think the inside/outside dynamic is necessary. I made a choice to apply my trade in a different environment and others acted like they couldn’t even connect with me anymore or I had betrayed the SA profession. We need to celebrate what people chose to do with their skills no matter the place they choose to apply them.
Closely related to that, from Anne Scheideler Sweet, consultant: you might feel alone in some of this. You’re not.
There are others out there rooting for you!
From Mike Conte, staffing professional and founder of the Expatriates of Student Affairs Facebook Group: enjoy your Labor Day, if you have it 🙂
It’s been really fun. I’ve learned so much and got to work with ton of people who I would never have meet in Higher Ed. My Line of work attracts a lot of different backgrounds.
If things were different, If my last job had been better, maybe I would have stayed, and maybe I might go back in a Career Advising role someday….but for now I am really happy about not having to work Labor Day moving in students.
Some more reading on the topic:
- From the Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice:
Attrition from Student Affairs: Perspectives from Those Who Exited the Profession
- From Defector alum Kayley Robsham:
Why I Left Student Affairs to Become an Entrepreneur
- From Defector alum Paul Brown:
Why I Made the Jump from Higher Ed Institution to Higher Ed Tech Company
- From fellow Defector Keith Edwards:
10 Lessons from 6 Months of Working Independently
- Shared by Liz Rader Haigler:
from Harvard Business Review, Why You Should Have At Least Two Careers
Thanks all for reading, and happy Defecting!