Career Transition Success Story: From Academia to Tech

In this series, we talk with previous clients to get an honest look at what it was like to work with a coach, what challenges they were encountering, and how the journey unfolded along the way to accomplishing their greatest career goals. 

This success story is about a former academic who decided to go all-in and navigate the most challenging career transition there is (shifting all four career buckets at once), while also trying to up-level his career. He was not only successful, but landed (in his words), "a job more aligned with my stage of self and stage of life than I knew was possible". Check out Nick's amazing story below. 



What's your name?

Nicholas Bauch

What's your title or function?

Principle UX Designer

What industry do you work in?

Technology

What led you to reach out for help with your career?

I decided to return to school after a nearly 20-year career in higher education.  After my program was over and I graduated, I was looking for jobs in academia for a year without success.  When I enrolled in school, I didn’t think I was leaving academia, and wasn’t thinking at all about a career transition.  My job searching, therefore, was mostly without clarity or any critical analysis; I was doing the only thing I knew how to do: go to my bookmarked search engines and rifle off applications.  I had not expected so much rejection, and so started reaching out to old colleagues on LinkedIn, a network basically foreign to university professors, but one that my university’s career counselor got me registered for.  A former research colleague who had moved into the tech industry—and whom I trusted—said I should become a UX web designer.  When I started looking into it, it started making more and more sense, and I had my first stepping stone toward career clarity.  This is when I started looking into career coaches and when I first reached out to you.  Up until then I had never really thought about the shape of my career, or really entertained the idea that I was in control of it.  Because of this, I knew I was going to need help to re-make my professional identity and re-make the ecosystem of my life.

What made you decide to work with me as a coach?

Jenni demonstrated obvious and particular expertise in the type of guidance I sought.  Namely, listening to my story, she immediately grasped what challenges I would face, and outlined detailed, categorical plans to productively move through those challenges.  I was impressed with her unshakable calmness, and her ability to convince me with substance, not loud promises.

What were your hesitations about hiring a career coach?

Getting ripped off.  There’s lots of advice out there about finding the best jobs, and lots of noise.  I didn’t want to go further in debt and come out of it with nothing.  I didn’t want a pretender, but someone with lots of legitimate experience who knew what threads to follow and which spools to ignore based on what works in the 2020s.

What made you take the leap of faith to work with a coach?

In terms of job function, I knew what I wanted and knew that I didn’t know how to get there.  I also knew that I wasn’t going to have much luck re-integrating back into my previous industry.  One huge moment for me was that I realized I didn’t WANT to re-integrate back into my previous industry any more, and this was scary because I didn’t really know how to do things professionally outside that world I had been in for so long.

What was the process like working together?

It was a lot of up and down: successes, failures, depression, hopes, clarity, confusion, all in fits and starts, and none of it with any guarantee of ending up somewhere you think you might end up.  This is because that’s what changing your career and your life looks like; this is growth.  There is only one way through a career transition, and that’s right through the hot-mess middle of all the challenges.  It’s unknowable and uncomfortable, and this is where Jenni’s coaching is invaluable: she knows the patterns of activity and behavior that keep you moving through the outer-space loneliness of profound growth in the most efficient and productive ways possible.


"The material outcome of our months together surprised me, which is that I was offered a job more aligned with my stage of self and stage of life than I knew was possible."


What, if anything, surprised you?

The material outcome of our months together surprised me, which is that I was offered a job more aligned with my stage of self and stage of life than I knew was possible.

Also—and this is a little embarrassing—I was surprised how right-on Jenni was about almost everything related to career transition and job searching.  Though I had decided to place my full trust in her, there were times when I felt like what we were doing could not possibly be the best thing.  This isn’t because the conversation or activity was too basic or ill-conceived; it just didn’t line up with how I would have done things.  Those counter-intuitive moments turned out to be the exact elements that I could have never figured out by trial-and-error or by watching YouTube videos, and they were the exact elements that got me the best job.

Was the investment worth it?

Yep.  1,000,000,000,000,000%


"For those things that spring directly from your core values, you owe it to yourself in this short life to pursue them with all the emotional energy you can muster."


Navigating your career is challenging. What piece of advice would you give to other jobseekers or professionals trying to be intentional with their career?

It’s a culturally-conditioned response to believe that the things we imagine for ourselves emerging from our deepest-held values aren’t attainable.  Many wants in life will go unfulfilled, and that’s ok.  But for those things that spring directly from your core values, you owe it to yourself in this short life to pursue them with all the emotional energy you can muster.  A job by itself doesn’t make a life what it is, nor, by itself, does it make you who you want to be.  In truth, most of us don’t even know what our core values are, so how are we supposed to start pursuing something that seems like a ton of work?  How on earth will that ever be worth it?  Discovering your core values and aligning them in pragmatic ways with the way you structure all the elements of your life is what career intention is all about.  Make your working life work for you.™




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