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Finding Your “What’s Next”

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Author: Dr. Teresa Evans | Category: Career Development | January 17, 2017

The idea of reinventing oneself and career has been something that I have had to become very comfortable with as I have transitioned into my life after diploma. I have found that spending years and years training for a single position, title, or career results in a mindset that we are, to our very core of being, that one thing. 

We are a musician, we are a nurse, we are a teacher, we are a pilot, we are a chef. Well, all of this may be true, but if you are like me you may find yourself having gained all the training to become a BLANK and now you are rethinking your path and asking “What’s next?”

Or maybe you spent years in your BLANK career and are saying to yourself, “I’m ready for a change.” Alternatively, you are still pre-diploma and trying to figure out what BLANK box you fit into. No matter what the situation may be I have the answer for you!

You are not just one thing. No one is! We are a combination of all of the experiences that we have had along the way. Yes, you trained forever in medical school and residency to become a specialist in pediatric oncology but I’m here to tell you that you are also an advocate (thanks to those years volunteering with the peace corps) and a planner (thanks to the medical student events you ran). 

We are all what I call a “Career Chimera.” In biology, we refer to organisms that are made up of more than one genome a chimera. In Greek mythology, a chimera is a monstrous fire-breathing hybrid creature composed of the parts of more than one animal. No, you are not a monster but yes you are composed of more than one thing!

So what kind of career chimera am I, you might ask? I like to think of myself as a Scientrepreneur. I spent many of my academic and classroom years preparing to be a scientist when outside of the classroom I was raised in my mother’s restaurant where I learned and was embedded in the culture of entrepreneurism. These traits are still some of my strongest and the lessons that I learned in that restaurant are my most valuable lessons. I feel a strong pull as I navigate my career to pursue something with my entrepreneur spirit. For those of you who are entrepreneurs at heart, this drive should not be ignored. I encourage you to look at yourself differently and see how you would imagine your life and career if you were being true to each of the parts that make up the whole that is you.

One exercise that I often encourage others to do, and have done several times myself, is to write your own job description. This can be very liberating if done correctly and with the an open mind. Think about all of the turns in your career path and influences that make up who you are and craft a job description that includes those that you enjoy the most. As you work through this try to not stay within the confines of the careers and jobs that you know exist but rather try to create a list of things that you would truly enjoy doing every day. Now when the description is complete compare it to the career that you are currently in. Do any of the items overlap? Think about the careers that you currently know of, does your description sound like any that you have heard of before? Do you know someone with a job like with you described?

Now list all of the barriers that you perceive in attaining this dream job. One by one think of the ways that you could overcome those barriers. For some this exercise could result in a tweaking of their current position, for others this will result in a job description very different from where they currently are. It is now time to create a road map to change! 

This is easier said than done but once you know where you want to go creating the map becomes a bit easier. I want to leave you with the thought that we all only live this life one time and it is now your moment to take action and pursue what is true to you for a better brighter future.

Teresa Evans, Ph.D.

Partner, RealCo Accelerator, Dir. of Career Development, Lecturer II, UT Health San Antonio

Teresa is an alumna of the Neuroscience Ph.D. program. Currently, Teresa is a partner at RealCo Accelerator, a technology startup business accelerator in San Antonio. In this role she is innovating the business acceleration process by creating a novel program that is tailored to the companies with which she works. She is also the Director of Career Development for the Office of Workforce and Career Development at UT Health San Antonio.  

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