Sunday, August 12, 2012

What do you do and why - Ashley

What do you do and why?


Ashley is a co-worker of mine... at least for the next week until she heads off to Boston to start the next phase of her life as a graduate student. While I was still confused about my career path when I was her age she has really taken advantage of a number of resources to help her reach her goals. She is especially adept at using social media to connect with others, do research, and brand herself. She even has a resume board on Pinterest which I find brilliant. She's recently given me some advice on how to make the best out of my LinkedIn page (which has been severely neglected) and I can't wait to make the updates she passed my way. Keep reading for her story.

1. What do you do?

In figuring out how to answer this question I had a hard time.  I mean, right now my official job is “Academic Advisor” for master’s programs in the School of Public Service Leadership at Capella University downtown Minneapolis.  However, I am moving to the Boston area in a week to start a whole new life adventure.  And, to be honest, I don’t think my job title always conveys all of what I do.  In some ways, this year I see myself as a “Jill of many trades” (notice I didn’t say ‘all’).  I have been helping friends and colleagues update their resumes, mentoring individuals on career change, becoming a networking guru, and starting to contribute to several blogs.  I also have an internship for an international consulting firm and have been devoting much time to learning various social media.  I really have enjoyed dabbling in a many things.  A few more things I “do” that make me who I am encompass the role of friend, aunt, daughter, and sister.  I have found myself growing closer to my family this year and serving as the host for visitors on many occasions. 

The skinny on my day to day doings career wise:

As an advisor, I help adult learners navigate an online graduate program.  It can range from reviewing policies and resources to academic planning and career counseling. 

As an intern for Melibee Global Education consulting I research international education topics, gather resources for online workshops, manage international speaker placement, collaborate on team projects, and blog. 

My new role for Showa Boston Language and Culture Institute as a resident assistant entails designing and implementing intercultural activities for Japanese exchange students, chaperoning field trips, assisting with English language learning, and serving as a resource when questions or concerns arise.

2. Why did you choose to do this? Have you always wanted to do this? Did you fall into this career or actively take steps to get here? Did you choose it or did it choose you?

I chose academic advising because I love to help people and coach them towards the realization of their goals.  I am a firm believer in the power and value of education.  I definitely consider myself a lifelong learner and want to advocate that passion and conviction in my career.  As far as I can remember, all of the future careers I dreamed of as a child involved some part of education (librarian, teacher, trainer etc).  Advisor wasn’t the specific job title I wanted, but it was definitely a part of the path I wanted to take to get closer to my goals.  I started out my journey with Capella as an advising assistant of sorts.  After recommendation to apply for the advising position and then not getting the role back in 2009, I knew there were bigger things to pursue.  I decided to leave the company and took time away to do a bit of soul searching.  My version of this entailed boarding a ship of 800 Japanese people and circumnavigating the globe on something called the Peace Boat.  Not your typical sabbatical I’m thinking.  

1. Checking out Xiamen, China. 2.Protesting the blockade while docked in Ireland. 3. Tour of St. Petersburg and the Church on Spilled Blood. 4. Dressing up as a Geisha in Kyoto. 5. Visiting Petra Ruins. 6. Learning how to wear a head scarf in Bedouin camp in Wadi Rum, Jordan.

Upon my return, I was set on moving overseas (think Denmark, New Zealand, Spain) to work.  However, I found out I had a nephew on the way and it was the first time my parents (based in Chicago) requested I stay in the country to be only a short plane ride away.  This was new to me.  I started to look for roles in International Education all over the States.  During a trip up to Minneapolis for a wedding, shortly after my boat adventure ended, I was informed of an opening at Capella in advising.  I figured what the heck, might as well send them something.  They know who I am and I left on very good terms.  Turns out I got the job and have been here the last two years.  In some ways I think the job chose me.  I had never planned to go back to Capella, especially after my world conquest, but it was something I needed to do to build additional coaching skills.  I’m glad I did, too, because it allowed me to gain an even greater understanding of the higher education world and for profit business.

3. What did you need to do to get here? Did you go to school? If so, was your degree related to what you are doing? Did you do something like an internship or work your way up for years? Did you take advantage of things like Informational Interviewing with those in the field?

To get to the advising role I am tying up I had to be prepared.  I did complete a B.A. in Japanese Studies (which is clearly not being used language wise) and build a strong rapport with the company in my first role.  I also had to prepare for interviewing, update my resume and determine if the path I was taking would be satisfying and fulfill my short term goals.  I did a lot of informational interviewing, networking, and mentoring before my first advising interview attempt.  I must admit, I know I was much better prepared and passionate the first time I interviewed than I was coming back, but it is no surprise that politics and timing can affect outcome.

As for my internship and exciting new role, I had to work to get them.  I set a goal about a year and a half ago that I would only work at Capella until Fall 2012.  I knew it was no longer utilizing my skills and wanted to make sure I was working towards my purpose rather than being complacent and comfortable.  I have become very involved in networking via social media and through personal recommendations.  I also did a lot of informational interviewing and outreach to get connected to those I needed to reach.  I know that having an internship and working while pursuing my degree in Intercultural Relations at Lesley University out in Cambridge, MA will provide the education and experience needed to break into the field I would like.   

4. What would you do if you weren’t doing what you are? Would you do this out of necessity, because you happen to have the skill sets, or because it is your dream job?

My dream job for a while has been to work in the field of International Education as a Study Abroad Advisor or Program Coordinator.  I am called to share my love for education abroad, language and culture with others.  I want to share this personal belief in my professional career and inspire others.  There is no job I would choose simply because I have the skill sets.  I have said since I was little, I would rather be poor and doing what I love every day than be rich and just going through the motions.  I want a fulfilling life and am driven to get there sooner rather than later.  I do understand it’s a process though.  I am a person who needs to be pursuing my passions otherwise I get bored or apathetic quickly.  I may be great at sales and be able to make a ton more money doing that, but at the end of the day if I don’t feel like I’m helping people and pursuing my purpose it is a loss.  I am happy (hopefully) to take a pay cut from what I’m doing right now to have a career in Int’l Ed.  Hard to believe that with the addition of a master’s degree and job responsibilities you make less money.  The world is a funny place when more work, education, and helping others equates a lesser salary. 

5. If you could create a job description of what you are doing what would it be?

In the far future, I would love to have my own company.  Or, I would even be satisfied collaborating with someone else who has the same mission and goals I do for spreading the idea of global citizenship.  It may be a business or a non-profit, but I envision in combining my passion for travel, experience with immersion, and love of program organization.  I think working for a study abroad program provider rather than a University will allow me to further cultivate this dream and gain a lot of insight into what is already out there and how I can dig deeper into the field.  I do know that I will be just as busy and active in dipping my toes in different pools. 

Traveling in Greece

6. Tell me a little about previous jobs you've had and if you have a degree/schooling/experience in something that isn't related to what you are doing now how did you make that jump?

I have previously worked in various capacities for Concordia Language Villages—anything from Japanese language curriculum facilitator to Assistant Dean to Alumni Program Coordinator.  The Language Villages are language and cultural immersion programs based out of northern Minnesota.  I grew up in the programs learning Spanish, Chinese, German, Norwegian and Japanese.  I was so greatly influenced by my experience in them that I knew my degree and career would need to relate.  Essentially I grew up in the villages and it changed the way I saw the world.  My education was dictated by the purpose I was instilled with due to the programming.  I choose Japanese Studies as a major because I knew I liked it and it would help me get where I wanted to go.  It certainly has helped me to show my ability to be innovative and creative during interviews as well as my strong communication skills and flexibility for promotions.

Thank you Ashley for sharing your story. I can't wait to see where all of your hard work takes you! And it goes without saying that your presence at work will be greatly missed (including all the silly cat pictures you send)!

To read about Ashley's study abroad experience click here (and then make sure to click on her picture for her story).

Want to know more about this series? Click here

1 comment:

  1. Wow, what a driven and motivated individual! It's pretty clear that Ashley will go on to do exactly what she wants to do - and not due to luck, but because of all the hard work she's put in so far.


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