Personalizing the Academic Experience for Immediate Career Impact
Career pivoters are survivors, courageous and determined. They refuse to be defined by antiquated views of what their career should look like and instead pursue the challenge of trying something new in search of better opportunities and upward mobility. These are some of the findings from a new research study I conducted as an Executive MBA student at Goizueta. I was able to conduct the research as a Directed Study that fulfilled one of my elective course requirements.
A Directed Study is an opportunity to utilize university resources to study a topic that you would like to explore further. For me, it was helping others be successful in their own career endeavors. I am the Director of Masters Programs (MS in Business Analytics and Master of Analytical Finance) within Goizueta’s Graduate Career Management Center. In this role, I teach a professional development class and also work with students individually to personalize their career journey and help them reach their career goals. It is always rewarding to work with a new cohort of students who are not always sure how to apply their degree, expose them to possibilities and opportunities, and then encourage them to apply their skills through the interview process. In the end, the students have a great outcome and leave campus confident and with a set of networking and interviewing skills that they can apply throughout their careers.
The directed study was also a great opportunity to utilize the Emory social and alumni networks, Qualtrics subscription, and business library resources to explore the topic further. My study was sponsored by Peter Topping, Professor in the Practice of Organization and Management, who is renowned for his expertise in the areas of leadership development, organizational culture, and organizational change. Working directly with Peter was inspiring because he has so much experience with research studies and always gave me constructive feedback to explore further or colleagues to connect with who have a background in a particular topic that would benefit from further study. I was able to complete an ambitious study in just one semester due to Peter’s guidance, support, and encouragement.
My research also found that career pivoters bring curiosity, thought diversity, a growth mindset, and fresh perspectives that could be invaluable to companies if only they are given a chance.
While there are many definitions for career pivot, our interpretation is: A fundamental change in one’s function or industry. This is something I see often as I work with Goizueta graduate students. While many pursue a graduate degree for advancement on their existing career paths, others are looking to change industries or job functions. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, roughly 1 in 5 adults aged 65 and older remains on the job and in the 1980s, the ratio was closer to 1 in 10. New research from Stanford Center on Longevity points to a 100-year life expectancy and approximately 60 years of working.
My research indicates that the promise of better opportunities and upward mobility is the main impetus for career pivots. My research findings are also affirmed in my work with graduate students at Goizueta and mainly show up when I work with experienced students who have self-selected to return for a master’s degree. Their investment in themselves through education is inspiring and helping them to be successful is such an honor and very rewarding. I apply what I learned through my Directed Study in my work to help reassure students that the process works; students with have good outcomes and can manage the stress of a career pivot by being proactive and completing at least one career-related activity each day.
This study has solidified my respect for the quote, “the only constant in life is change” (Heraclitus) and we certainly see evidence of this in career pivoters.