Decisions Decisions

Another semester has finished.  Time has flown by and I apologize for not posting sooner.  But so much has changed since the last post.  I’ve accepted a graduate assistantship at my university.  I am now working for the assessment department, helping the director in assessing academic programs and student outcomes.  In layman’s terms, I help create surveys and tools to evaluate program and student performance, and with that information provide analysis and reporting to decision makers on opportunities for improvement and for accreditation purposes.

The theme for this blog entry then will be decision-making because accepting this position was a process.  And after talking with my advisor, who intuitively pointed out that I gather information from everyone (and their mother) before coming to a conclusion, I thought it fitting to explain how I came to be where I am today.

I’d been thinking about leaving my full time job in sourcing for several months, and with some financial planning and a supportive spouse, put in my notice in mid-April.  I figured some other opportunity would present itself later in the summer.  Actually, I’d been expecting a job opportunity at a public, research university, advising on sourcing processes and best practices.  Unfortunately, that opportunity was slow to come, and suddenly a week after I had put in my notice, I got a call from my private, faith-based university to interview for the assessment position.

The interview was nerve-wracking.  As soon as I arrived I was told to take a test in the computer lab.  I was handed an academic planning report and some data and asked to analyze and create a report for it in less than 25 minutes.  I was hyperventilating the first ten minutes, I’d never worked with academic data, and it was on the counseling program (which I have absolutely no experience with).  With only 15 minutes left, I decided to just approach it like I do with spend reports at work, so I looked for trends, compared it to the targets, created some charts on the data and created an executive summary of my findings.  Who knew that spend analysis was a lot like higher education assessment.  Except that spend data doesn’t yell at you because it doesn’t have time to complete a survey.

In less than 24 hours of the interview, the director called to offer me the position.  I’d done well on the test (even catching an error in the data) and my business background provided the professionalism she desired.  I was unable to accept at that moment, I needed time to think about it.  And here comes the decision-making.  My gut was jumping for joy at the opportunity to work at my university, and with faculty that would hopefully help me do more research and publish.  But my analytical brain was telling me to look at all the facts and consider the opportunity carefully.  I talked with my spouse, the other graduate assistants, my advisor, my then-coworkers, my parents, and even the hiring manager at the research university I’d be letting down if I took this assistantship.

On one hand, I had a job offer waiting for me, and on the other, an opportunity for a job, but no guarantee in writing.  The nail in the coffin was a two-minute conversation with a teacher during an action research conference I was attending. She asked me what my end game was (to become faculty), and she said consulting opportunities will always be there, but working with faculty and doing research in this capacity will not; alluding to the fact that to become faculty, one has to publish.  So after much deliberation and data collection, I went with my gut choice and accepted the job.  I’m three weeks in now and very happy.   The hilarious part of it all is that my new director and I are alike in so many ways.  The way we analyze and interpret things, our attention to detail, even the clichés we use. We also have the same people-managing style.  The main difference though is she is extroverted and I am introverted.  I can already tell that she’s going to be a great advocate for me.

So what have I learned after reflecting on this decision-making process?  That I have to make the decision that best helps me reach my goals.  It’s not about the financial impact anymore, because obviously, making money didn’t satisfy me.  It’s definitely not about trying to achieve an image someone else is projecting on me.  [I will not be anyone’s model-minority].  Also, I needed a job that wouldn’t kill me while being in school.  And I needed work-life-balance that wouldn’t have me killing my husband. (who says I’m a lot less grumpy now).

I will still describe my work experiences at prior companies (defense, medical device, and higher education).  But I will also get to write about my new job too.  And a friend of mine wants to do consulting work together on diversity for companies.  Thus, I will always be a practitioner.  So thanks for reading and stay tuned!  Year one is done!

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