Job Title & Organization: Director of Career Services; SAIS Europe, Johns Hopkins University
Location: Bologna, Italy
What was your job search like?
I wasn’t actively job searching; however, a former boss emailed me a link to an open position at SAIS Europe. I didn’t pay much attention to it at first and I actually sat on the email for over a month. Then, one day while I was at the National Career Development Association Conference, I suddenly decided it couldn’t hurt to send in my cover letter and resume. The process moved seemingly quickly after that.
How did you make the decision to take an international job?
It was actually a difficult decision for me because I was in an enviable position. My job as a career counselor at the OITE was fantastic. I was happily employed in a job that I liked working alongside people I respected. So, I worried and wondered. How could I walk away from that? I also lived geographically close to my family, so the prospect of moving an ocean away – on a different continent – stressed me out.
Making the decision took time and I did a lot of things to help get clarity. I made pros and cons lists; I journaled about it; I spoke to career counselors; I talked to trusted colleagues; and I conferred with loved ones constantly. I even reread some of the very blog posts that I had written about decision-making, including:
As a feeling decider, the decision ultimately came down to a gut feeling that this was the right next step for me in my life and my career. Sometimes stress and worry still kick in though and I panic, What if I made the wrong decision? But, I try to take a moment to breathe and remind myself that I can always make a new decision if needed in the future.
What have you learned from this process?
There is an adage “opportunity knocks at inopportune times” and I have often thought about this line because it felt so applicable to my situation. Perhaps more than any other time in my life, I had committed to multiple projects through the end of the year. So, moving felt very disruptive to all of the plans (professional development courses, the NYC marathon, trips) that I had scheduled.
As a planner, it can be hard for me to make adjustments when something new comes up, but I learned to be more flexible and adaptable. The fact that this something new was so life changing felt exciting… and stressful. I remind myself that almost everyone struggles with transitions and even positive change can create stress.
Any final thoughts?
While at the NIH, I had almost 2500 individual appointments; in these meetings, I had the chance to meet with trainees at all levels – postbacs, graduate students, and postdocs. I met smart and ambitious individuals doing remarkable work at and away from the bench. Many of my meetings focused on transitions; helping people transition both to and away from the NIH. I was constantly impressed by the trainees that I had the privilege of working with and I was especially struck by the visiting fellows. Their courage to move to a different country, learn a new language, and adapt to a new culture was inspiring to me. I look forward to experiencing a new way of life in a new part of the world, but the people I met at the NIH will always be dear to me.