This season of The Defectors is sponsored by The Defector Academy Suite, a series of coaching activities designed to help you discern your path. If you’re even thinking about a life beyond campus, explore the trio of options available to you to work through these thoughts and ideas with me as your co-pilot! Don’t want in, but still love the series?Consider donating to keep it going!

wooden post fence, surrounded by flowering trees, with

Today’s Defector Woman at Work is Valerie Heruska. Val and I met when she was working in residence life at one of Boston’s many universities. In the years since, she has taken on new roles before finally settling into her newest with Campus Labs. Student affairs auxiliary tech companies are an incredibly popular option for former campus-based pros, and so I was pleased to get her perspective on moving into that work.

Val was also thoughtful about disclosing how working with a therapist to find “her best self” to go on the search, helped her find a place that aligned with her values. My approach seconds the idea that your needs, non-negotiables, and values should take the lead in this decision making process; your “best” is a nebulous and highly individual concept, but the important piece here is being able to see a clear path forward guided by what you find most important to your well-being. Whether you choose to work with a therapist or coach on your search, or not, I appreciated the vulnerability she employed in sharing that experience. I hope you enjoy our conversation!

(Captions available; Get a transcript of our conversation here)

I always appreciate getting to chat with Val, and to her point about staying connected within your network: if you’d like to connect with her on LinkedIn, you can do so here!

Takeaways from Val’s Journey

  • Val spoke frequently about how a therapist helped her on her journey. Whether that is a path you want to take in the process or not, know that personal introspection can do a great deal to help you determine what isn’t working about your current circumstances, and what changes could help.
  • Even if you opt not to work with a therapist or coach, that doesn’t mean your search needs to be a solitary one- reach out to current and former colleagues, supervisors, and other connections to guide your pivot.
  • I love that Val trusted interviewers to assess her talent correctly. If positioned thoughtfully, those skills you gained on campus can be incredibly attractive to a prospective employer. Take the time to reword and reframe your experiences in a way that demonstrates what needs you can fulfill.
  • Your non-negotiables are your own to decide. They can be big and “commonly recognized” things like proximity to family or flexible work time to accommodate family obligations, or they can be things like access to an international airport or even nearness to a favorite chain 🙂 They also have to help you gauge the work environment itself; as she put it, “the grass isn’t always greener, sometimes it’s greener in different places.” Where do you need the lawn to be lush, and how can you assure yourself of it before you commit?