Building An Authentic Career in Higher-Ed

In this short series, we hear from mid-career professionals, leaders, and founders on what it takes to build an authentic career, some of their challenges and proudest moments along the way, and their best piece of advice for navigating an intentional and authentic career. Get inspired below!

What's your name?

Teri Parker de Leon

What's your title or function?

Assistant Dean for Employer Engagement and Business Operations for the Fuqua School of Business Career Center

What led you to this career path?

I was first exposed to career coaching in my early 20s. I moved to San Francisco a couple of years after graduating from the University of Maryland with a degree in Journalism. My first job in San Francisco was with DBM, an organization that assisted people displaced from their jobs through lay-offs. I held administrative and marketing roles with that company but learned as much as possible about the coaches. What they did, how they worked with people, their background, etc. At the time, I didn’t have the right (or enough) experience to go into coaching. I left DBM to pursue a career in marketing and plunged into the tech startup world that was burgeoning at the time. I moved to North Carolina in 1999 and continued my career in marketing communications for tech start-ups. In 2001, I received an amazing gift: I was laid off. In my situation, I had a very small severance and no career transition support. However, DBM had an office in Raleigh and was looking for coaches. I now had many more years of experience plus a foundational understanding of what the company taught and how to coach, so I became a career coach for DBM. After about a year of coaching individuals forced into transition, I sought out an opportunity to work with people choosing transition, and was hired as an Assistant Director for Career Services at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. I transitioned from fulltime coaching to a leadership role on the team about 14 years ago.

What would you say is your unique zone of genius?

Three of my top five Clifton Strengths are Restorative, Adaptability, and Empathy. Those strengths mesh in a way that helps me solve problems in real-time while taking a lot of various stakeholders and other factors into account.

What's the best part and the hardest part of the work you do today?

Managing people.

What's a challenge you've overcome in your career (that you're willing to share)?

Confidence and self-assurance. Though to be truthful, that’s an ongoing battle. I often have to remind myself that I belong where I am.

When you look back on your career what are you most proud of?

The people I’ve managed and led. Some are still a part of my team and some have gone on to do other great things.

What's the job or passion project you've considered but never gone after?

Lounge/cabaret singer.

What is the best piece of career advice you'd like to share with others?

Document your accomplishments and recognitions and update your resume regularly with those. It’s easy to forget or take for granted what you’ve done and accomplished.

What does a fulfilling life and career look like for you?

My mind is engaged in activities that bring me joy and challenge.

In you're ready to show up with intention in your career, here are three ways that we can support you. 

1) Tired of sorting through the noise on social media? Keep your on-going career education top of mind by registering for our weekly newsletter. Join our newsletter here.

2) Want to start living your most authentic life and career? Learn about The Authenticity Lab.

3) Not sure how to advance your career and become a stronger leader? Work one-on-one with a career coach. Learn more and book a call here.