Summer R&R: Managing Your Career

Working at the University people often assume that I get the summer “off”… ironically, summer is the busiest time of year at Alumni Career Services.  Why? Since we were schoolchildren, most of us equate summer with relaxation.  As adults, many of us find the season to be a time for many other R’s – and I’m not talking about Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic … A good number of business people use the summer to reflect on their situations and decide to make subtle or sometimes drastic changes in their situations.

In the midst of busy daily routines we often don’t make time to REFLECT about where we are in life, personally and professionally. A little down time at the beach or in the mountains can lead to contemplating things like: Are you happy with what you are doing and accomplishing?  Are you still learning?  Are you making the difference you want to make?  Are you spending your time the way you want to spend it?  If so, how can you ensure that you continue on a positive path?    If not, what can you do about it?  It is healthy to take time to reflect periodically. And, it often leads to a call to us to help with adjustments.

You may realize that it’s time to REBOOT/RESET because you seem to be “stuck” in an attitude or routine that isn’t productive and isn’t making you happy.  The disruption of normal routines in summer can provide a chance to start anew.  Sometimes it helps to have a coach to listen, ask questions and brainstorm with you to help get unstuck.  ACS can help in that way, perhaps it’s just a nudge to help reframe your situation.

Watching the USA soccer team in the Group Stage of the World Cup, it occurred to me that a change in perspective can help us REFRAME.  When Portugal scored in the last seconds of the game that the USA team had been winning 2-1, the ensuing tie felt much more like a loss; yet not a week later when USA lost to Germany by one goal  and advanced to the Knock Out Stage, the loss actually felt like a win.  Sometimes looking at things in context or stepping away from the situation (as a week on the beach can do) helps us reframe a situation. If you are struggling with a difficult co-worker or despising an assignment,  a new look can help you reframe the situation and find ways to make things better.

Sometimes, a week with the family uncovers the need to REINVENT one’s career.  Perhaps you took a job in marketing to assist in a move to your spouse’s hometown yet you’d much rather be doing the finance you enjoy so much more.  This reinvention is not impossible but it will take some effort, RE-BRANDING and networking to make it happen.  Again, ACS can help get you on the right path toward reinvention.

Maybe you’re spending your summer RENOVATING or REFURBISHING your home, rather than RELAXING on the beach.  But whatever you do, I hope you will take time to REFLECT as well.  And if you find the need or desire to RENEW, know that the Armstrong Center for Alumni Career Services team at Darden is ready and willing to assist you.  To make an appointment to talk with one of our career advisors, simply email us and we’ll be happy to REACT ;-).

Oh, and if you find that you have an opening that needs to be RE-FILLED, please let us know – we have new grads READY to start!

Here’s to a REFRESHING summer!

Connie Dato English (MBA ’91), director of the Armstrong Center for Alumni Career Services at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

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