UC Riverside, 2014
Senior Associate Director, Career Center, UC San Diego
Associate Director, Career Center, UC San Diego
I oversee a team of career advisors and industry engagement specialists in the Career Center, and as well as advise and develop resources & programming for PhD students in all disciplines at UC San Diego.
There. Is. So. Much. Email. I think a lot of times when people want to go into career advising, they envision the average workday entailing career conversations with students pretty much all day, everyday (I know this is what I’d thought!). In reality, so much of the actual “career advising” work is built on constant communication among Career Center staff and with students, campus partners, employers, etc. – everything from answering students’ questions to scheduling meetings to planning events and absolutely everything in between.
I’ve come to the conclusion that no matter what I do for a living, it has to encompass working with PhD students in a variety of disciplines on professional and/or career development topics. Every day I’m fueled by the conversations I get to have with my students, who are working through incredibly complex career and life decisions while also navigating a very intense academic process – I feel very fulfilled by this work.
I was practically immobilized by the fear of choosing the wrong career path post-PhD, and spent years agonizing over the career search (after spending years agonizing over “leaving academia” in the first place – a fallacy in itself). I wish I’d heard the metaphor I’ve seen more recently – that a career is a book with many chapters. When deciding on a career path, you’re just choosing the next stepping stone that will be a fit for that particular time in your life, and after you’re done with that, you’ll choose the next one, and on and on. It feels very liberating to know that a career path is truly a series of careers rather than just one thing you have to stick with until retirement.
The ability to learn quickly and indulge in your curiosity. I often joke that the most useful skill I learned while doing work on weird and esoteric topics was how to Google things quickly and effectively. Really, though, the PhD teaches you how to ask the right questions and then find the answers on your own in the most efficient way possible. It’s hard to quantify that on the resume but is actually enormously valuable in one’s career, no matter what you do.
How did you find your current career/job, and how did you know it was the right one for you? How have your career goals changed in the years since earning your PhD?
Yes (well – I tried! It was a promotion so I was limited to a certain amount per UC rules. I did not negotiate for my Assoc. Director position because I was straight out of grad school and unfortunately had the “grateful for anything” mindset – I do not recommend this approach!)
Student loan debt?
Very luckily, none – my program was a combined masters/PhD and funded by TAships.