Defector Academy Coaching

I still remember the moment I realized it was time to defect. In a needed moment of escape, I had traveled to a concert with a group of friends in New York. A song I had always loved came on, but one lyric resonated more than it ever had, and more than any other line that night…

all we have is time.

I had been struggling with burnout, anxiety, and a touch of hopelessness. But in that moment, I realized I wanted to make the most of my time. And I hadn’t been. Separately, I’d been doing some exploring to learn what I might enjoy and where my skills, experiences, and talents would be valued. In November 2015, I bet on myself (with a good bit of money in the bank, I feel heavily compelled to share that tidbit!) and set myself up to start anew in 2016. I learned shortly after making the leap that this was not as uncommon an impulse as I had originally thought.

I turned that unlikely sense of community into a blog series first, then a more elaborate blog series (stay tuned for series 3 this August!), and now want to take the next step by offering it to you…as a substantive, action-oriented, learning opportunity.

This unique coaching opportunity will give you the opportunity to answer some of the biggest and most nagging questions about the Defector lifestyle, such as:

  • will defection help fix the challenges I’m facing? (which we’ll talk about in “A Moment Like This”)
  • what else should I be doing? (which comes up in “What Drives You?”)
  • does anyone else want what I have? (we’ll touch on that in “Where to Now?”)
  •  where can I find help? (that part’s in “Assemble Your Crew”)
  • …and much more!

While this sequence is not designed to land you a job by its conclusion, it’s designed to prepare you to confidently move forward with the process – aware of the challenge ahead, but also empowered by your strengths and preparedness.

There are limited spaces available, so sign up today to guarantee your spot!

Why “Defector” Academy?, Part 1:
What’s in a Name?

From my blog post that concluded the second series of The Defectors last October:

I like the choice of “defection” as a means to describe this new world of work that many have chosen to enter, because so many look at it in that traditional way at first glance. The definition of “defect” as a verb is “to abandon a country or cause in favor of an opposing one” (emphasis added). It is my sincere and fervent hope that you’ve learned […] that these causes are not in opposition with one another.

It is an okay thing to want to leave the day-to-day work of traditional higher education and student affairs. To repeat (!): It is an okay thing to want. It often gets treated as a betrayal or an odd choice. But the way I see it, we should have the opportunity to use our values, skills, experiences, and talents in a way that aligns with who we are and what we want to be. And while that can be done on a campus, it can also be done in a number of other ways.

But it’s hard. And hard things become easier with help. Defector Academy is to provide that help in a measured and structured fashion, with experienced insight, from an individual who is always asking: “how can I help?” In this instance, this coaching sequence is how.

Why Defector “Academy”, Part 2:
The Cost of Going Solo

Defecting is something that can be done without assistance. The work of identifying desirable opportunities, crafting your application materials and personal networks to “make your case” for those opportunities, and staying motivated to do so – often while in a full-time role – is entirely possible to do alone.

But I liken the “pivot” associated with taking on a new role in a new industry, to moving to a new country where you don’t yet know the language. I took Spanish for several years and at one point was fluent…but years of disuse have weakened my skills. If I wanted to move to Argentina, I’d need to learn the language over again. Learning a language through a book or an app is okay, but learning a language through reading (field specific literature), immersion (networking), and a conversational partner – me – would be significantly more effective. Defecting requires a new language; call me your tutor.

Components of the Program

All stages of the Defector Academy program include:

  • six online modules, featuring video lessons, reflection questions, and additional resources
  • a companion workbook with activities and prompts to help you further “digest” the video lessons

Level Two includes the above, plus:

  • six weekly calls (each up to an hour in length) allowing you to work through the course material, ask questions, and reflect with Defector Academy Headmaster Amma Marfo

Level Three includes the above, plus:

  • six additional weekly calls (twelve total, each up to an hour in length) to work through the course material, ask questions, reflect, and continue to get feedback on progress with Defector Academy Headmaster Amma Marfo

Purchasers of the “plus” levels (Two+ and Three+) will also receive a one hour session with Monica Fochtman, Certified Professional Resume Writer, of Sheldrake Consulting. Preparing your materials for Defection is one of the hardest things you’ll do in this process; Monica’s services are invaluable in executing the pivot you’re seeking.

Meet Your Headmaster


Amma Marfo, M.Ed is a speaker, facilitator and consultant represented in the college market by SPEAK Educators, a division of Fun Enterprises. After nearly a decade on college campuses like Hillsborough Community College, the University of South Florida, Florida State University, and Emmanuel College (MA), she found her interests and energy called to another place – namely, speaking and facilitating, coaching, and freelance/longform writing. She stays curious about this process with others, and developed the Defectors blog series as a means to compile and share those stories with others considering using the skills, talents, and experiences cultivated in higher education, in other fields.

She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies from the University of Rhode Island, and a Master’s in Education from the University of South Florida – with additional certification in Career Counseling. She is the author of three books: The I’s Have It: Reflections on Introversion in Student Affairs (2014), Light It Up: Engaging the Introverted Student Leader (2015), and Cultivating Creativity (2017).

Purchasers of Levels Two Plus and Three Plus will also get to work with Dr. Monica Fochtman – you’ll receive one hour of work on your application materials, plus a 10% on any additional services you purchase from her in the next six months.

monica-purple-jacket-from-jv.jpgMonica Fochtman, PhD, CPRW is a certified professional resume writer, MBTI leadership consultant, and career coach. Her first career was in higher education where she worked in academic support, student leadership, and residence life at different institutions throughout the Mid-West. Although she served in different roles, the core work was the same: helping others be their best. She started her company, Sheldrake Consulting, LLC, because she saw too many colleagues and students underselling their skills and experiences. She helps clients find and tell their stories, so they can survive and thrive during career transitions. She provides resume and cover letter writing, interview coaching, and candid feedback focused on leadership development and career advancement. She earned her Bachelor’s in English and Master’s in Higher Education Administration from Boston College and her Doctorate in Education, with a cognate in Women in Leadership, from Michigan State University. In addition to her work as a career coach and consultant, she is an adjunct faculty member at Grand Valley State University. She devotes her “free time” to reading, writing, hanging out at the beach, and volunteering for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which funds cutting edge childhood cancer research.

Defector Academy Syllabus

Week One: A Moment Like This

In this opening module, we’ll explore some of the most common reasons people consider defecting, examine where your reasons align or diverge from these reasons, and start to look at some of the factors that might inform your defection, including:

  • Are your challenges individual or systemic?
  • What resources might you need on this journey?
  • What traits and competencies will serve you well as we begin?

Week Two: What Drives You?

When executing a career pivot, I like to start people at square one: what are you about? Using the ChangeWorks value sort model, you’ll learn what values guide your work and professional persona, why those values matter when seeking a new role, and how those values align with your goals and strengths (or Strengths, as the case may be).

Week Three: Where To Now?

Armed with an awareness of not just your skills and traits, but now also your values, we’ll explore some of the many industry options (and where to find those jobs) available to you in Defection, including:

  • nonprofit management and operations;
  • volunteer management and development;
  • corporate recruiting;
  • training and development;
  • select K-12 educational opportunities;
  • educational technology and other “higher education adjacent” organizations;
  • and more!

Crucial, also to this model, is an introduction to the language of the chosen field. How does their speak differ from that of higher education? What will it take for you to learn it? And who can help?

Week Four: Assemble Your Crew

Networking is a crucial part of the job search process, we all know this. But networking is particularly essential when executing a career pivot such as this because these people are the ones who can fill the spaces that might arise when we aim to “fit” our experience into a new environment.

In this module, we’ll explore:

  • how to mobilize your existing network in your favor;
  • how to find opportunities both “in person” and virtual to expand your network;
  • how to interact with your network in constructive and results-driven ways; and
  • how to talk with your existing network about your impending move

Week Five: The Paper Trail

The element of defection I get the most questions about, by far, is preparing application materials. Your resume or CV will need to change – taking advantage of the new language we explored in Week Three. Your cover letters will need to be highly illustrative; by the close, readers should have an idea of what you’d look like in that role and what your unique background can bring to the table. Here, we’ll talk at length about how to speak about your skills, traits, and experiences in a way that fits your chosen industry.

Level Two Plus and Level Three Plus will be connected to Monica Fochtman between weeks Five and Six to further their work on application materials.

Week Six: Work the Program

In this final week of the course, we’ll reflect on your progress and mindset after our time together. We’ll explore additional elements of the job search process, including norms and expectations of a new work environment, salary negotiation, and talk through any emotions that may be associated with leaving the field. By the close of this week, you’ll hopefully feel prepared to move forward with searching for jobs, adapting application materials for the position in question, develop meaningful connections with people in your chosen new field, and speak confidently and informatively in the interview and other associated social interactions.

A new path forward is possible. And Defector Academy is designed to send you off with the tools you need to confidently traverse it.


Ready? Enroll Today!

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