Friday, April 24, 2009

There's Always a Better Job out There

Stacy was a Regional Manager and health educator at the last company for which I worked. When it closed a year ago - laying off 150 people - she quickly found a similar job and seemed well set. In a short time, however, she was not satisfied and began looking again.

As the main bread winner in her household and the mother of a teenage son, she had more to consider than just work hours and pay rate. For her there were many quality of life decisions: how much time would she have with her family, was the work fulfilling, would it provide future opportunities - all those real life questions. And, when one is forced to change careers in mid-life one may also have the opportunity to make a change in direction; one of Stacy's long-held dreams was to get her PhD and teach at the college level.

An opportunity arose to work on a grant contract to study the effectiveness of health education programs in worksite settings. Not only was it in her field, but it also was sponsored by the university where she wanted to get her PhD and so would allow her to go to school for reduced tuition. She jumped at the opportunity and now has two semesters finished and is nearly a year into her job. We talked today and it was wonderful to hear her enthusiasm about her progress.

More than 15 years after completing her Master's degree, she is back in the classroom and loves the experience. She has discovered that there is much new information in her field and she is mentally challenged to update her skills. She has learned new theories and thru her job is having the opportunity to see them implemented. She is designing programs that are completely different than the ones she worked with for fifteen years. She has written applications to present papers at national conferences and may get the opportunity to make the presentations herself. She has recovered both the joy of learning and the challenge of doing.

Professionally and personally she is growing and developing and building on her strong skill base. One day she will be a fine teacher - perhaps at the same university - and another generation of health educators will benefit from the combination of her education and experience. What appeared to be a professional body blow a year ago has turned into a wonderful opportunity for Stacy, and she is making the most of it. Best of all, she is enjoying every minute. I can hardly wait to hear what happens next.

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