My Adult Life
I could have titled this “Why I’m Leaving Academia.” But that would be disingenuous because my story is about much more than that. It is, however, the punchline. I’ve decided to leave my tenured associate professor position to start my own independent consulting practice.
You may be anticipating a story like: I became so annoyed and disillusioned by the academic world that I had an epiphany and suddenly realized that academia is not the place for me. But that’s not it at all. I’ve loved being a professor and will have many fond memories of students, colleagues, classrooms, and committee meetings. So what’s my story?
Flashback to July 2012 when my husband, son, and I took a trip to the Boston area to visit relatives and our former home. We would visit at least once a year to reminisce about our college days (my husband went to Northeastern and I to Brandeis) and apartments we shared in Davis Square and Back Bay. What was meaningful about the 2012 trip was that, as we walked along Highland Ave. in Somerville in the July heat pushing our 3-year-old son in his Bob stroller, I decided that at some point, we had to move back to Boston. It wasn’t because I thought the grass was metaphorically greener there. It was because I felt at home. It was because I felt more alive.
Luckily, my husband had similar feelings and, after that trip we shook hands on a 10-year plan to move back to Boston. This sparked many questions about my career: What would I do? Would I give up tenure? It was all very hypothetical.
The hypothetical became real when my husband got a job offer from a small but established and growing IT firm in Boston. After a sleepless night, we decided to take it. Our 10-year plan suddenly turned into a 2-month plan. It was a leap of faith but when you’re given the chance to follow your dreams, you jump. I didn’t know where I was going to land, but I knew in my gut it would be someplace good. This was July 2014. By September 2014, we had moved back to the Boston area.
And what about my career? That brings us to the punchline I gave away in the beginning: I’m leaving academia to start a solo consulting practice. Why not stay in academia? (It’s not like there is a shortage of institutions of higher education in the Boston area.) Quite simply, it’s time for me to move on. I’ve conquered many challenges on the road to becoming a tenured professor and I’m proud of my accomplishments. But, in the words of Josiah Bartlett: “What’s next?”
Why independent consulting? It gives me a similar kind of freedom enjoyed by academics: The freedom to choose when I work, where I work, how I work, and what kind of work I do. And, as an I/O Psychologist, I’m excited to devote myself full-time to making real differences in organizations.
Is it scary to leave something I’m perfectly content with for something new? Absolutely. But I’m going into this with my eyes wide open. I’m going into this knowing what it feels like to fail and recover. I’m going into this knowing that it will require a ton of hard work. And I’m going into this with the support of my family, friends, and colleagues.
So that’s my story. I’m moving on by conquering new challenges that make me simultaneously excited and uncomfortable. I’m beginning the next chapter of my adult life. I’m advancing to Version 2.0 with the scars from Version 1.0 to give me wisdom and guidance.
And just in case you’re wondering — yes, Boston still feels like home. I never get sick of seeing that skyline.
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