Why Do We Talk Badly About Ourselves?

Dr. Joseph Barber

When I give a mock interview to a student, I occasionally ask the classic question that still pops up in interviews in various forms: “What is your greatest strength?” The answer that students give usually starts off sounding something like this:

“Um … well …I think my greatest strength is …”

This hesitant, uncertain beginning doesn’t really fill the listener with much confidence, especially when the pauses are long. If I ask the related “What is your greatest weakness?” question (still common in interviews in a range of different career fields), the answer I get is noticeably differently. It’s usually without any of the pauses heard in the previous answer and goes something like this:

“Well, one of my weaknesses is [weakness that sometimes is the strength they just talked about in the other answer], and I also have a hard time [second weakness], and also [third weakness] …”

Students and postdocs are far more comfortable talking about their weaknesses than their strengths. We can debate the usefulness of these particular interview questions, but they do illustrate a general lack of confidence that some students and postdocs have in their own abilities — or at least the lack of practice they have in communicating their abilities to others.

Perhaps this is common at all levels of education. But I will discuss below certain aspects of higher education that increase the likelihood that people are not comfortable highlighting what they are good at doing. This hesitation and reluctance to talk positively about one’s strengths can be a significant issue when applying and interviewing for jobs.

Knowledge and Expertise

I teach an online master’s degree course about animal behavior and welfare at Hunter College. This year as part of my online course, I combined one of my career-focused workshops on networking that I normally give at Penn with the animal welfare topics we are discussing. The outcome was an exciting, chimeric lecture that covered networking strategies my students can use to connect with welfare experts in the field from whom they can learn more about the course’s topics.

It was fun to do, because it combined the two aspects of my professional identify into one cohesive whole, albeit for one lecture. As part of the online discussion forum for this lecture, I asked the students to think about how they might describe themselves as part of their introduction and elevator pitch. And I gave them a series of questions to answer as a way to explore the positive aspects of their professional identity:

  • Thinking about the knowledge you have, what are you an expert in?
  • Thinking about your skills, what are you an expert in doing?
  • What makes you stand out from others like you in a positive way?
  • What positive words do others use to describe you?
  • Why do people seek you out when they need help?
  • How can people benefit from working with you?

Of all the questions, the first one seemed to cause the most trouble. Here are five examples of the responses I received:

  1. I don’t think I’m an expert in anything yet.
  2. I wouldn’t say I’m an expert in anything, but …
  3. I don’t believe I am an expert in anything, although …
  4. I don’t think I am an expert at anything, however …
  5. Many of the people in my life would consider me an expert in animals and their behavior. This is nowhere near the case.

It is true that it is impossible to be all knowing in any research field. New discoveries are always happening. New, fascinating papers are always being published — many remain unread because there’s simply not enough time in the day. Given all that, no one can ever be an expert in anything. Let’s take a closer look at one definition of the word expert: “a person who has a comprehensive and authoritative knowledge of or skill in a particular area.” Since no one can have all knowledge, even students can have sufficient knowledge in a field to be experts in it if they can also share that knowledge confidently enough. (It’s how I might define authoritative.)

In fact, no matter what your research is on, if you have been focusing on it for a few years, you will be an expert in not only the topic but also the methodologies used to study it. You will also have expertise in understanding the broader field of your topic: what other research people are conducting about it and who those people are, what questions remain unanswered, where the best source of information for your topic area can be found, which ideas are controversial, and so forth. The fact that some people may have more knowledge or experience doesn’t actually make you less of an expert.

After the “but,” “although” and “however” in responses No. 2, No. 3, and No. 4 above, my Hunter students did actually share their expertise — but only after saying that they didn’t have any! The phrasing of response No. 2 is interesting, because if you don’t highlight your own abilities, then who will? Your reference writers will, but in between the long periods of time applying for a job when someone might read a formal reference letter, you should take responsibility for advocating for yourself.

And when other people do talk up your expertise (see response No. 5 above), then definitely build this into a professional narrative, because it can become part of your professional brand. What people say about you can give others a positive impression of you — that is, as long as you don’t deny it and can illustrate these skills in action as you are telling stories about your experiences.

Critical Feedback and Positive Reinforcement

Another common attribute of doing research in a higher education setting is that most of the feedback you get will be critical. Now, critical doesn’t mean negative, but it certainly doesn’t mean positive, either. Professors, mentors, book and journal editors, and random scholars at conferences are always more than happy to tell you where your research falls short, what you have failed to looked at, and why your argument is wrong. What is generally missing is a plentiful supply of positive reinforcement for all the things you got right about your research approach.

In animal training terms, a reinforcer is something that increases the likelihood that a behavior is performed more frequently. A positive reinforcer is something that animals are motivated to work for. If you want your dog to shake your hand with its paw, then giving it a yummy treat as soon as it lifts its paw will help it make an association between paw lifting and treats. Your dog will lift its paw more frequently if it knows treats may be coming, and you can use this to shape its behavior by reinforcing only the movements you are seeking.

In terms of academic research, few students receive a plentiful supply of positive reinforcement during the course of their daily research, and rarely are specific skills highlighted. Advisers and principal investigators should always be encouraged to do that more often. But students and postdocs can also seek to put their skills into practice in situations outside their academic research where positive reinforcement is more likely.

For example, if you set up a departmental panel of alumni to talk about their post-Ph.D. experiences, the panelists will probably express their gratitude to you for having the opportunity to share their advice. Attendees who found it helpful will thank you for organizing the event. You are demonstrating relationship-building, event-organizing and project-management skills that the positive feedback you are receiving will reinforce. The more these types of skills are strengthened and applauded through your involvement with a student or postdoc group, volunteering projects or other side gigs you may be working on, the more you will actually believe that you have them — and the more natural it will seem to you when you talk about them.

People worry that by highlighting what they are good at they will come off as bragging, self-important individuals. The way to avoid that becoming a reality is to practice telling stories about your skills rather than just saying that you have them. If you wanted someone to know you have good leadership skills, then simply announcing that you are a great leader is really not going to sound very convincing. But if you tell a story about a time when you used your leadership skills, the challenge you faced and what you did to overcome it, then you help people to experience your skills in a more meaningful way. If you also reflect on what you found enjoyable about the experience you had and what you learned from it, then you will find that people will begin to form an image of you in their own minds where your skills are prominently defined — not because you told them you have these skills, but because you depicted them in action.

Don’t let the sometimes cold, harsh academic environment make you doubt you have marketable skills for a wide range of career paths. You really do have them. You can certainly develop them further, but you must take every opportunity to practice talking about them to others. The more you do, the more they will become a natural part of your professional identity.

To Adjunct or not to Adjunct, That Is the Question

By Dr. Esther Ra, Advisor in the School of Nursing, Graduate School of Education, and School of Social Policy and Practice

Recently, I have had several students inquire about teaching as an adjunct in community colleges and in neighboring universities in Philadelphia. Have you ever wondered about teaching as an adjunct faculty member? What exactly is this and what does it entail? As someone who has been teaching since my doctoral student days, I do get frequently asked about how one can break into this arena.

What exactly is an adjunct faculty member and what do you do?

An adjunct faculty member or professor is someone who teaches university level courses on a contractual basis, sometimes renewing a contract from semester to semester. The word “adjunct” means supplementary or auxiliary, and as an adjunct professor, you are exactly that, an additional faculty member who has been hired to help teach courses for a department. While adjunct professors are not hired at the level of a tenure-track professor, nor are they one of the main professors in the department, adjuncts are relied upon to do a part (and sometimes it is a large part) of the load of teaching in the department. Typically, adjunct faculty are not expected to participate in research, partake in department committee work, or delve into university service. While it’s not expected for an adjunct to do such activities, many do dabble in some of the same work as tenure-track professors, depending on their interests and time. Above all, an adjunct faculty member will be expected to have an experienced skill set in teaching at the college level, (and in some cases, the graduate level), which will most likely be the sole focus and expectation of the adjunct.

Why Do You Want to Adjunct?

In some respect, it’s important to think about why one would like to take on an adjunct faculty position. Do you want to improve your teaching skill set? Do you want to become more familiar with a topic in your field? Do you want to have a better understanding of working with undergraduate students or graduate students? There’s a myriad of reasons why many people would like to have an adjunct job, but it’s important to pinpoint a direct reason. Adjuncting is not always a glamorous position, nor does the pay and recognition correlate to the level of education a typical adjunct achieves, often a PhD or a master’s in a given field. Knowing why you want to pursue this path, as well as, what you’d like to gain from it, is important to know before jumping two feet into this world. The frustrations of adjunct life are notorious (and I won’t delve into them here), and one may grow jaded early on in the process. Without a clear understanding of goals, the teaching load may sideswipe a newbie, if not tempered in thought and expectation.

How Does Adjunct Hiring Work?

Without getting into the controversy of adjunct hiring, if you would like to enhance your teaching in higher education in a part-time capacity, adjunct teaching is a great way to develop this skill set. Even with lesser duties than a tenure-track professor, an adjunct position is often difficult to negotiate. I am often told by students who come to see me during appointments, that they have a difficult time breaking into this world. I would have to agree with them, that it IS a difficult arena to crack, however, it is also important to note, that even though an adjunct is auxiliary in a department, your CV cannot be “auxiliary.” Your CV still needs to be impressive and polished. With many students in the wings eager to become an adjunct – whether it be a doctoral student, a newly minted PhD, or a seasoned higher education administrator, positions do not avail themselves equal to the number of highly qualified individuals who graduate from master’s and doctoral programs. Keep this in mind as you apply to jobs! It can very much be a waiting game, but if you’re patient, the right opportunity may come knocking on your door.

With that being said, depending on where you are interested in teaching, typically most adjuncts have their doctoral degrees and are well versed in the courses they teach. They are often familiar with the content and courses books for the courses taught, by way of their own research or interests. In some cases, particularly in smaller colleges and community colleges, an accomplished individual with their master’s can also fill an adjunct role. Knowledge and extensive practical experience in the content area is a huge plus in this case, and highly valued.

Networking to Find an Adjunct Position

As with many jobs, networking to find an adjunct position is likely one of the best strategies for finding a job in the field you hope to teach. Start by talking to your advisor. Perhaps you could serve as a Teaching Assistant in one of the courses you’ve taken before that you enjoyed. Perhaps, you could offer to grade and take care of administrative duties of a course before attempting to teach one on your own. Likely without direct teaching experience or course management experience, either in a teaching or graduate assistantship, it will be difficult to be competitive for an adjunct position.

If you’ve already talked to your advisor, consider approaching other professors, either in the same department or in other departments. To do this successfully, you must look to see what content you are familiar with and what you would feel comfortable teaching. There is a lot of overlap in departments and you could be eligible to teach in several departments, depending on the need. For example, an individual who studied educational policy, may be useful in a higher education department, but could also be relevant in a social policy department. Often the interdisciplinary nature of one’s own interests lends itself to opportunities, not just in one field, but in several fields. Take a good, hard look at your training and comfort level, and I am willing to bet, ideas to pursue several different departments will emerge. Brainstorm with your advisors and get their input.

Contacting Departments/Schools to Apply/ Strategic Informational Interviewing

It may seem archaic, but sometimes, cold contacting or networking is a strategy one may need to employ. Why? As a student or a newly minted PhD, these positions may already be filled by senior adjuncts, who have been teaching the same courses year after year. In this case, it may be beneficial to look outside your department. In addition, your interest area may be quite specific and only a handful of universities will have the fields you are interested in teaching. This is often the case, particularly in certain fields with those who have obtained a PhD. An example of this may be a newly minted PhD graduate, a historian of a specific era of US history; some departments can only have allowances for one or maybe two adjuncts in this area, depending on the size of their school. If it’s a specific niche, the opportunities may be even tougher to find. This is when contacting department heads and or hiring professors, or even human resources of colleges and universities who host your field, would be a strategic move. Call the appropriate professors or email them. Introduce yourself and your interest areas and ask to set up an informational interview. Send your CV. It may be that your CV is held “on file” with a “pool of adjuncts.” You may need to play the waiting game, at which time, you may be called when a position becomes available. It takes strategic networking and follow up. This all takes much time and patience. Obtaining an adjunct position isn’t impossible, but it can be challenging without taking strategic steps. As a teacher educator myself, I will tell you that it can be an immensely rewarding position. There is a joy in sharing your expertise and experience with students, and/or new trainees in your field.  While I am fully aware there is a whole host of politics that accompany adjunct hiring, almost all faculty members I know, don’t stay teaching as an adjunct for the compensation (because the pay can be dismal) or for the recognition. They enjoy developing and keeping abreast of their skills, furthering themselves in a field of interest, and sharing their trained knowledge with university students.

Centre for Multilingualism and Diversities Research

This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the 2018 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Esther Yoshiko Liu, GSE ’19

With my goal of becoming a university-based Language Policy & Planning expert, I arranged my unpaid mid-Master’s program internship at the Centre for Multilingualism and Diversities Research at University of Western Cape this past summer. Through my Research Fellows position there, enabled by generous Penn Career Services funding, I built an experiential base from which to discern whether and where to pursue doctoral studies.

In South Africa, I tried on the linguistic anthropologist’s hat for fit – an awkward, floppy hat by design. Channeling Hortense Powdermaker, diving into the process of inscribing community contexts and the full humanity of others, discovering how culture shock and difference are the heart and soul of my field; these tasks of suspending my own norms to subject myself to others’ constraints, and immersing myself as deeply, widely, and openly as possible in human interactions and communicative events were rehumanizing and restorative. They strengthened my intercultural agility and built confidence that I am well wired for this line of work. Through engaging with Southern theory I grew in understanding of my own University’s place of power and privilege, which granted perspective and conviction on how to steward these well through my own academic pursuits.

I collaborated with global leaders in the field of Language Policy & Planning, notably, through working at the 20th International Congress of Linguists. There at my first major academic conference, I was surprised by the approachability of the top scholars (whom I’d previously encountered only by way of footnotes), how invested they were in encouraging graduate students and young/beginning researchers, how they embodied the professional values to which I aspire. I was entrusted with mentoring undergrads and Master’s students in ethnographic field methods, and appreciated “interning” in the fullest sense: My supervisors treated me like a colleague, and gave me concrete opportunities to be (as if) one of them.

I evaluated pious ambitions of South Africa’s multilingual language policy, which grants 11 previously stratified languages equal constitutional footing against the actual implementation of these policies on the ground in creches, colleges, and communities. Outside of 9-to-5 office hours, I got enveloped into the wide web of Western Cape families, and welcomed into their life events, including weddings, funerals, baby showers, 50th birthday bashes, and more — an anthropologist’s dream! All this occurred in a climate of resource scarcity, as Cape Town is limping out of its recent water crisis, and as the historically disadvantaged university where I was based continues to establish itself as a top research institution in Africa. This context accentuated how language differences are implicated in negotiating access to vital resources, and whose concerns get voiced and heard.

The role of language in political conflict and social inequity is often ignored. But within Educational Linguistics, my division at Penn GSE, we examine how language practices and policies (especially through institutionalized education) can either disrupt or reproduce these economic and educational inequalities. My summer research experience put these processes of interactional sociolinguistics under the microscope, and confirmed my abiding interest in linguistic justice as it relates to diversity and human flourishing. It extended my commitment to work through linguists’ lenses, stewarding the great resources and training at Penn to contribute to illuminating the correlative and causal relationships between social fragmentation and language grievances.

Navigating First-Gen Career Pressures

Helen Pho, Associate Director

First published in Carpe Careers for Inside Higher Ed: https://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2019/02/18/advice-first-generation-students-pursing-their-phds-opinion

When I first told my parents I was leaving my job as an admissions officer to begin a doctoral program in history after just graduating from college a few years before, their first reaction was, “Why are you going back to school for so long instead of working to make money? And why aren’t you coming back home to California?” To immigrants who had spent years trying to make ends meet while raising three kids, the idea of not working so as to obtain another degree seemed, from their perspective, like a frivolous privilege.

Although I was committed to my own plan, I still understood their reaction. As I tried to come up with an answer that would satisfy their concerns, I fell back on a response that took advantage of their unfamiliarity with academe: “Well, I could make more money after I earn a Ph.D.!” Knowing that it wouldn’t likely be true, I felt it was the only way I could justify my decision to get a doctoral degree to my parents.

For some first-generation graduate students, the process of pursuing a Ph.D. can come with additional career and financial pressures from their families. Those expectations become more pronounced as they finish their programs and begin to transition to a career. In fact, whether you’re a first-gen graduate student or not, many doctoral students face pressures from their families to move closer to home; to provide support, financial or otherwise; or to pursue a particular kind of career that would guarantee stability, prestige or monetary reward. On top of that, some first-gen doctoral students also feel obligated to be in career roles that have impact on society, given their backgrounds. All of these pressures can make choosing and launching a career more stressful, since additional stakeholders are involved in one’s career decision making.

As someone who has navigated these first-generation family pressures personally and has advised graduate students in making career decisions under similar circumstances, I hope to offer some insights to help ease the process and perhaps lower some of the anxiety many graduate students feel. In addition to the first-gen career advice I wrote about previously, here are a few things to keep in mind as you progress throughout graduate school and begin to think about your next career steps.

Pursuing a career path you’re excited about and have worked hard for is not selfish. For first-gen graduate students, carving out your own post-Ph.D. career path will require you to persevere in ways your family may not understand. If you know you’d like to pursue a certain career, whether in academe or beyond, don’t feel guilty for that decision. Yes, it will likely require some personal sacrifices. You may have limited options in terms of where you live or how often you have to move. You may have to make sacrifices that affect your family — like not being able to visit home when you have conferences to attend or deadlines to meet. It will probably also challenge you in ways that your family may never fully grasp, like learning an unwritten set of rules in academic or professional culture to fit into a workplace. Depending on what your career goals are, it may take some time and a lot of hard work to achieve them. But life is long, and you’ll want to be happy spending the next few decades of your life at work.

Making a decision to pursue a different career than the one you originally planned for doesn’t mean you failed. On the flip side, sometimes the amount of sacrifice required for a career may turn out to be more than you’re willing to invest in. As Derek Attig wrote, it’s perfectly fine to build an endpoint in your faculty job search, for example. As you explore career options that value your Ph.D., keep in mind that many employers, both within and beyond academe, respect and desire the research, communication and analytical skills you bring to the workplace.

Just because you set out to pursue one career path initially and then decided that another path is a better fit — for any number of reasons — doesn’t mean you gave up on the first career. In fact, as I often tell the graduate students and postdocs whom I meet with, learning that you don’t want a certain path is itself an important thing to know about yourself. After all, you will have saved yourself so much time and frustration in not pursuing a career that will make you miserable! Being able to internalize this breakthrough as a positive step in your career process and to communicate this narrative optimistically to others, including your family, is key to deflecting some of the internal and external pressures you may face about your career choice.

Following a career path might bring some forks in the road; you’ll make choices that reflect your life’s priorities. Sometimes, graduate students feel that the career decision that they’re making is one that will determine their future for the next five to 10 years of their lives or even longer. The reality is that life circumstances change, and people change jobs multiple times in their careers.

Even once you land a job as a faculty member, that doesn’t mean that you’ll stay at one institution for the rest of your life. Many academics do change jobs and institutions for a variety of reasons — including for positions that fit better intellectually and professionally, for higher pay, or for geographic reasons. And outside academe, people change jobs all the time, often gaining promotions in the process. Whether it is the need to provide for your family financially or to be closer to home to help care for your parents, trust that you will pursue career options and make decisions that reflect what’s important in your life, including your obligations to your family.

Giving back to society can take various forms — both in your career and beyond. Many first-gen students often feel obligated to give back to their communities because of how much they have benefited from the help of others. If you are one of them, finding a career where you feel that you can make a small difference in someone else’s life may be an important factor. In certain careers, it’s easy to do that because giving back is part of the nature of the job. In other careers, it may be harder to draw the connection between what you do on a daily basis with the greater social impact that your role or organization has.

While some people might find ways to make a difference in their everyday roles, such as mentoring a junior colleague or participating in workplace volunteering events, keep in mind that you can have an impact on your community in other ways beyond your career. Depending on your circumstances, you can fulfill your desires to help others through volunteering during your time off or donating to different causes.

Completing a Ph.D. and embarking on a career afterward can change the relationship you have with your family back home; differences in socioeconomic class or life experience that may arise as you become more upwardly mobile can cause conflict or misunderstandings with your family. Now that I have my Ph.D. behind me, my parents still don’t quite understand the professional world I inhabit or how my doctorate in history is relevant to career advising, but I know they are proud I have achieved the highest degree in my family and that I am in a role that allows me to be happy, productive and helpful.

Many of the career-related pressures coming from family can be difficult to satisfy. But knowing you have the agency to craft your career path in a way that is adaptable to different circumstances and obligations can hopefully lower some of the stress that comes with making important career decisions.

Career Certainty – and the Uncertainty of It All

Dr. Joseph Barber

I have always enjoyed working in fields that include a lot of gray areas — those nebulous, intangible zones between something being absolutely correct and being incorrect. After all, if there is a singular right and wrong answer, it means you have much less room for creativity or flexibility — and I like thinking creatively. Career advising is one of these gray-area fields because one’s future career path is not predetermined.

That means that whenever someone meets with me looking for absolute clarity on their next career move, they are probably not going to leave my office with a singular answer. Instead, I’ll suggest a series of action steps that they can take to build confidence in the answers that they’ll discover on their own through a variety of different networking and exploration processes. I recognize, however, that when you want easy answers, receiving a “series of action steps that you can take to build confidence in the answers that you will discover on your own through a variety of different networking and exploration processes” doesn’t always feel so satisfying.

All that said, even within the field of career advising, you can, in fact, take certain actions that have very predictable outcomes. And it is worth thinking about some of these as illustrations of what career certainties can look like.

Writing generic applications. You unquestionably won’t get 50 job interviews if you send 50 versions of the same résumé with a cover letter that only differs because you remembered to change the name of the employer in the text (but not always in the file name of the attached document — oops!). You can find out why here, but you can probably guess that 50 different hiring managers at 50 different companies are each looking for something specific to their needs and interests. Generic applications certainly won’t interest people — and even more certainly, they won’t impress companies’ tracking software that scans applications to see if they match keywords in the job description. The robots like relevant keywords, and they are not so good at reading between the lines.

Downplaying your expertise. If you don’t apply for a job because you personally think you might not have enough experience for it — if they are asking for, say, three to four years of using a set of skills and perhaps you only have one — then you definitely won’t get an interview. If you write in a cover letter, “Although I don’t have the three to four years of experience you are seeking, I do have …” they will certainly agree with your lack of experience and probably won’t see what you do have.

But if you describe your actual experience, and tell them in words they are familiar with based on your research into the field and the many informational interviews you’ve had, you will make a much better impression. You can never be absolutely sure what a hiring manager is actually looking for in a new hire, so let them be the judge of your experience. They may see potential in your background that you can’t see from your perspective.

Raising no interview questions. If you don’t have questions at the end of a job interview, you are most assuredly increasing the chances you won’t be asked back for another one, much less given an offer. If you are uncertain why, then read this.

Predicting when job offers will come in. When you receive multiple job offers, you will probably never be able to get them all to line up at the same time so that you can choose between them — no matter how well you negotiate or stall for more time. And just as it seems that buttered bread always lands butter side down when dropped, it can certainly feel like offers from less preferred employers always come first. They also have more immediate turnaround times than offers from the employers you really want. I have met with many students and postdocs who have an offer on the table from a less preferred employer that will probably expire before they can even complete the interviewing process for a more preferred one. No one can know for sure what will happen in the future if that first offer is turned down or accepted.

Not negotiating. You will certainly regret not negotiating. You may not feel it all at once in the glow of receiving and immediately accepting a job offer, but over time, you will increasingly wish you had asked for something. You don’t have to negotiate for much to feel satisfied that you have advocated for yourself. A small salary increase, a reduction in your teaching load for a couple of years or priority access to your new employer’s day-care facilities can all make a meaningful contribution to how you feel. But you should always negotiate positively — and do so as confidently as possible.

Questioning your decisions. You will always look for career certainty as you make your decisions. But in most situations, once you make a choice, you will remain a little in doubt about your future career prospects. Will your decision get you closer to your dream job or employer, or will it take you down a path that will lead you away from it? You can never tell for sure.

The thing about career uncertainty is that it actually exists no matter what choice you make. And while that may sound a little scary, if we flip the narrative around, it means that there aren’t really any wrong choices. You will have to make many different choices. Some will be strategic ones that move you toward some future career goal, some will be more immediate to address a crucial need (e.g., financial) and some will be less about the work and more about your family or personal well-being.

Each is valid in its own way. As long as you have given thought to why you have made the choice and are committed to making the most of the situation, you can continue to leverage the experience you gain in any role for whatever future career move you choose to make.

Here are five steps that I would certainly recommend once you have made a career choice in order to feel satisfied that you can make the most out of it:

  1. Thank everyone who has helped in your job search, especially your references.
  2. Take advantage of any training or mentoring available in your new role.
  3. Make a concerted effort to grow your network within your new employer, as well as within the employers’ broader professional industry.
  4. Identify new skills or knowledge you can gain in your new role that you didn’t have before.
  5. After you have settled into the new role, begin to think about the different career steps you can take next, and what you will need to do for each of them.

You can always learn from the past decisions you have made. But rather than second-guessing a previous career choice, invest your energy in developing a forward-looking strategy that will help you be as informed and confident as possible when taking the next step.