What roles have you had throughout your time at Berkeley?
I came to UC Berkeley in 2007 as an Environmental Protection Specialist level III within the department of Environment, Health & Safety Department. Prior to that role, I had five years of experience and a master’s degree in EH&S.
In 2011, I had the opportunity to become the interim Career Coordinator at the School of Optometry for six months.
In 2013, I made the leap to take a one-year contract role with Campus Shared Services as the Employee Engagement Strategist. This led to my next contract role in a fifty-fifty split role with the School of Optometry and School of Information as the Associate Director of Career Services.
After the one year contract ended, I accepted a full-time position with the School of Information and since then have been promoted twice and currently serve as the Director of Career Services & Alumni Relations.
What challenges did you face when seeking your next opportunity and how did you overcome them?
My career change wasn’t just a pivot, it was a ninety-degree turn! I had the challenge of finding a new career direction, making the case for transferable skills, building up new skills, making new connections, gaining relevant experience without starting out at the bottom.
I am a big believer in Planned Happenstance, the theory that if you take action on your curiosity you can manufacture opportunities. Have you ever asked someone “how did you get that great job?” only to have them tell you about an extremely lucky, chance event that led to where they are today?
That is exactly what happened to me - a sequence of lucky events. But those events occurred because I put myself out there and started following my curiosity and building skills. I joined the Chancellor’s Staff Advisory Committee (CSAC), the Leadership Development Program (LDP), the mentorship program. I started teaching classes with UC Berkeley Extension and a local start-up, I founded the Berkeley Facilitators Network (BFN) and if there was an opportunity to attend a free class or volunteer my skills for something - I was there.
All of this led to the chance encounter of my doing a free elevator pitch video for the School of Information, and the dean seeing the video and saying “maybe we should hire someone in career services.” Next thing I know - that person was me.
I never planned to be in career services, but I followed my strengths and interests. It took time, but the journey was worth it. My career saw real progress once I let go of the idea that I needed a particular job on a particular timeline, and instead decided to prototype my interests by trying things out and seeing how they fit with my skills and values.
You’ve had a very vast career at Berkeley. What factors do you think helped you switch positions successfully within Berkeley?
Beyond the things I already mentioned, there are two other factors that greatly assisted in my career development. One is taking advantage of the career services for staff on campus! It was essential to help me carve out space for working on my resume, exploring my interests, and thinking about my career in alignment with my skills, strengths and values.
The next factor is my team of advisors. By now, most of you have probably heard how important it is to have a mentor - and we have a great program for this on campus. Take advantage of this, but also create your own ‘unofficial’ team of advisors. I had a group of people (they may not even know who they are!) whose advice I relied on to steer my professional development and see my blind spots. You cannot see your blind spots - find people whom you trust to hold the mirror.
You started the Berkeley Facilitator Network (BFN). How did BFN contribute to your growth?
BFN was essential to my career growth. I initially went through facilitation training because I saw this as one of my growth edges. I co-founded BFN along with Janet Kodish to continue exploring how facilitation could be used on campus to improve organizational dynamics and campus culture. This experience also helped me develop skills in program management and event planning; it flexed my strategic thinking and expanded my network.
With BFN I had an additional vehicle to clearly demonstrate how I was qualified in organizational development. It meant that by the time I applied for the Employee Engagement role in CSS, I had a new story to tell. Instead of seasoned EH&S professional focused on environmental regulations, I was organizational strategist and facilitation lead on campus, currently working in EH&S to engage campus in environmental protection activities.
You made the jump from one field to another. What would you recommend people do if they want to do something similar?
Explore your curiosity, build your network, prototype. There is not one answer to “what should I do with my career?” - you have to build your way forward. Rather than making sudden changes at large cost, take advantage of ‘try it out opportunities’ to test where you can add value and how different activities/roles align with your strengths and ideal lifestyle.
My generation was told we needed to ‘follow our bliss; find your passion to live your best life!” Well, it’s really hard to figure out exactly what your passion is - because most of us have more than one (or our passions are just hiding out of view). Instead of finding your passion, find a direction that you’d like to explore today. You can always change direction - our careers are not ladders, they are jungle gyms! So get out there, try out the monkey bars and see how you do.
Explore and talk about the exploration with others. Build your network by volunteering, learning other people’s stories, and sharing your own story. In this way, opportunities will have a chance to find you.
Any final words of wisdom to staff looking to grow their careers at UC Berkeley?
Find a friend! Collaboration is magic - take advantage of this fact and create a job club. Find a mentor, find advisors, and also find a peer with whom you can bounce ideas, find a sympathetic shoulder, and keep you motivated.
If you’d like to advance your career with today’s methods read about the corporate lattice model- here.
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