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Author Topic: Too Much Loyalty? How To Move On.  (Read 9500 times)
dwiggin3
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« on: April 30, 2012, 3:56:28 PM »

Hello – I have been a lurker here for quite some time however, this is my first posting. I would be interested in your thoughts on my circumstances and how best to turn what could be perceived as a negative, into a positive.

A bit of background, I currently work for a large public university and have held the same position for the past 10 years (yes, I said 10 years).  I am a 35 year old single female with no kids and no significant other.  Prior to that, I spent 2 years working for another College within the same University.  Before Higher Education, I worked in Law Enforcement.  I have a considerable amount of experience with program administration, admissions/retention, accreditation, student services, academic affairs and a growing knowledge of what we call “students of concern” (typically, those students whose behavior has someone concerned and that someone refers them to the Dean of Students Office).  While I may have been in the same position for 10 years, the job has evolved and grown tremendously as a result of my willingness to take on new responsibilities and quite frankly, the Department’s desperate need for greater administrative oversight.  In a University of over 35,000 students and over 3,500 employees, there really is no job like mine.  Most offices have 2-3 separate people performing what I do on my own.  My title has changed several times (reflecting my advancement) and I have successfully negotiated 2 pay raises.  Having said that, I feel I have taken this position as far as it can go given the unique circumstances that afforded me the flexibility I have had.  Sadly, my institution is not known for hiring from within, so while I have applied for other positions within the last 10 years, most of the really good ones went to outside hires.  I have excellent references and believe my reputation within the community is solid. 

I stayed in this position as long as I did for two major reasons: first, my father was terminally ill and I needed the flexibility to help care for him that the Department offered.  Once my father passed away, both my mother and sister became disabled and that required quite a bit of my time as well.  They are doing much better and I finally feel like it is time to concentrate on my career.  Second, continuing in a position that I felt very familiar with helped me to concentrate on both of my masters programs, despite not using the first degree the way I intended.  If I am honest with myself, I must admit to being a bit spoiled but if I am to advance I must move out of my comfort zone.

I earned a MS in Environmental Science and Policy in 2006 however, after interviewing for several jobs, realized that higher education was where my heart was.  Fortunately, my employer paid for my MS degree.  I will be finishing my MA in Higher Education Administration in May 2013 and feel that this next year to 18 months will be a pivotal time for me professionally.

Now that I am in a position to put myself on the market more aggressively, how can I use my time in the same “position” to my advantage?  My concern is that I will come across unmotivated and/or unwilling to take on new challenges and grow. While I am willing to share a little about my families series of health issues, that too could become a red flag.

Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated.
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drgrabow
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« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2012, 4:14:03 PM »

You seem to think that ten years is a long time, and that you'll have difficulty explaining to people why you've been in the same role for so long.  I don't think that will be an issue.  I think you are right to not get into your family's personal struggles too much.

I think the bigger issue is that the next job you may want will likely require the Ph.D.  I probably would have advised you to go ahead and do the doctoral degree in educational administration/higher education.  I have a doctorate in education with a masters in a social science field.  It's never held me back.  In fact, most schools I have worked at have liked that I had some academic training.  I'd imagine your law enforcement background is also very attractive for positions with behavioral intervention components.  If you are looking for a Director of Student Conduct position at a smaller school, the master's degree plus your experience should suffice.  If you are looking for Dean of Students jobs or student conduct job at a school of comparable size - you'd probably need to doctorate (and/or) perhaps even counseling licenser.

I guess my last thought is, in your subject line you reference, "too much loyalty."  It sounds like your institution has been pretty loyal to you (flexible schedule, understanding of family situation, support in graduate school, promotions with new job titles reflecting your new responsibilities).  So, where is the loyalty gap?
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zharkov
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« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2012, 11:15:44 PM »


If you titled has changed "several times," then you have not held the same position for 10 years.  (Assuming each new title reflects increased responsibility.)  In fact, it is usually a strong positive when one is "promoted in place," as you have been.

Chime about the PhD, depending of course on what your longer term ambitions are.

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Zharkov's Razor:
Adapting Zharkov a bit to this situation, ignorance and confusion can explain a lot.
larryc
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« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2012, 11:36:51 PM »

Look at people who have the jobs you want at other universities. What are their degrees, skills, and qualifications? I suspect you do need a doctorate, but poke around and find out first.

Beyond that, get yourself out there. Apply for jobs sure, but also try to take an active role in your professional organizations. Go to your conferences. Network.
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dwiggin3
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« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2012, 9:13:06 AM »

Thank for the insight.  The issue of loyalty goes both ways - and I am tremendously thankful for that.  My feeling that 10 years is a long time is perhaps skewed by the turnover I see in other jobs and to a certain degree, with my peers. I am proud to have served as long as I have.

With regards to the PhD - I am uncertain I want to put in the time and energy it will take.  I could continue at my current university and have them pay for it however, given their history of not promoting from within and quite frankly, the feeling that I do not want to be tied to the University for the next 5 years for a PhD (I would not pay for the PhD on my own - I would only complete it if it was part of a employee benefit), it just does not sound appealing.  I would not completely rule it out though - but given my feelings and uncertainties, I think I would prefer to hold off on a PhD and perhaps, try to find a more challenging position at a different institution and then look at my options later.  Frankly, I am not convinced I need the PhD.  Add in the idea that I think I still have a great deal of potential to work in other areas without the PhD, I am not rushing to it.  My ideal school would be a small/medium school - liberal arts perhaps but I would also consider other venues as well.  In the end, I am moving more towards making a break with my current institution.

With regards to zharkov's comments that I have not held the same position for 10 years - would you recommend that I list the positions separately on my resume?  There was a great deal of overlap, so I am not exactly sure how to list this.  Sadly, our Career Services Office has not been helpful with Resume/CV development.  I reckon it is time to meet with my adviser.
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zharkov
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« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2012, 9:24:06 AM »

With regards to zharkov's comments that I have not held the same position for 10 years - would you recommend that I list the positions separately on my resume?  There was a great deal of overlap, so I am not exactly sure how to list this.  Sadly, our Career Services Office has not been helpful with Resume/CV development.  I reckon it is time to meet with my adviser.

Get yourself a copy of The Academic Job Search Handbook.  Additionally, I expect your university library (or even public library) has a number of "how to create a resume" books.  But in summary, use the change in titles to show your change in responsibilities and accomplishments.

About whether or not to get a PhD, larryc is on the money:  Research the qualifications and credentials of people whose job you see yourself doing in 10 years, and act accordingly.
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__________
Zharkov's Razor:
Adapting Zharkov a bit to this situation, ignorance and confusion can explain a lot.
drgrabow
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« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2012, 11:45:13 AM »

What types of jobs are you looking for?
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asco7
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« Reply #7 on: May 02, 2012, 12:05:52 AM »

I would not pay for the PhD on my own - I would only complete it if it was part of a employee benefit

I don't see why you would have to pay for a PhD. Given your credentials, I would be very surprised if you couldn't easily be admitted to a PhD program with full funding and a stipend, as is typical with liberal arts PhD's. I know that for EdD's funding is a little bit harder to come by, but even so...
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zuzu_
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« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2012, 9:57:12 AM »

I am not sure if you are interested in community colleges, but at the CCs where I've worked, people with your skills and credentials could easily get positions as directors and deans of all kinds. Plus, if you got a job at my CC, they would pay for you to get your doctorate part time.
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merinoblue
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« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2012, 10:23:52 AM »

Frankly, I am not convinced I need the PhD.  Add in the idea that I think I still have a great deal of potential to work in other areas without the PhD, I am not rushing to it. 

Good.  Don't...unless it is absolutely essential to getting to your dream job.  You have a wealth of experience to draw on, and I suspect you are very marketable.  There are opportunity costs to doing a PhD at any age, but at 35, being single with no children (and I am reading between the lines that you would like that to change), one of the biggest opportunity costs you will experience if you start a PhD within the next 5 is diminished opportunities to meet a life partner (because the academic environment is small, your PhD colleagues will likely be much younger than you, and the PhD is a huge time commitment.)  If you want to keep your social and dating circles large, stay in the work force.

I recognize myself in parts of your story, in that I put off life/career changes to care for family members.  I am just coming out of a long period of shelving dreams and ambitions, and I'm at an age where career and life opportunities are closing off. 

I hear you expressing the need for growth, both personally and in your career.   Do not ignore this.  You're at a great age to do anything you want.  You're incredible mobile and you have a strong CV.   

Do you have a mentor outside of your unit?  If not, can you find one, someone senior who has had a long career in higher ed admin?  I think that would be a good place to start, to start gathering some information and advice about where you can go and how you get there.

You're in a great position to move into something more challenging and rewarding.  Don't ignore your desire to move, in career and personal development.
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