Blog (filtered)

Being a leader takes practice. We’re excited to share our latest experiments and lessons learned.

Jess Dollar
Friday, February 17, 2017

Our CLE team recently had our annual retreat, and it included a fun trivia game to get to know each other better.  One category was ‘When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?’ The answers got us talking and laughing!  Our childhood dreams included professional violinist, ice cream maker, talk show host, travel writer, news anchor… and even a horse!  We had all these different ideas when we were young, and now here we all are working in the Center for Leadership Excellence.  How did that happen?

Of course, along the way to our current careers, each of us held many other jobs too.  Some of them were directly connected to our college majors or career goals, but others came up along the way and just sort of happened.  For me, I went from my first teenage job as babysitter to camp counselor, resident advisor, elementary teacher, ropes course teambuilding facilitator, academic advisor, college instructor… and now I am a Learning & Development Specialist at UVA.  This windy path is in contrast to my grandparents’ experiences, who had lifetime careers in one place.  You know, the generation who asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

For a little while, I was concerned about my circuitous career path.  Will I look like a job-hopper?  What do these things have to do with each other?  Will I ever find my ‘dream job’?  And then I saw an amazing Ted Talk by a young woman named Emilie Wapnick.  She spoke about people just like me who had traveled many paths and explored several career options.  And instead of calling them lost souls or job-hoppers, Emilie used the term ‘multipotentialites.’ Suddenly it clicked!  I’m a multipotentialite! 

Once I adopted that title for myself, I felt quite liberated.  I have learned to embrace the fact that my circuitous career path is not a flaw, but an asset.  It provides a well-rounded perspective on life, gives me a wealth of knowledge to draw from, and keeps me renewed and energized as I focus on new passions. 

As I was thinking about this topic, I came across a great LinkedIn article by Michaela Alexis, who encourages us to celebrate career diversity. She wrote, “If I never let go of my first dream job, I'd still be a can of beans.”  I love this!  Michaela suggests moving beyond the idea that we define ourselves by our job titles.  She encourages us to not get ‘stuck’ in a career, but rather that we can continue to grow and change throughout our lives. 

So what does your path look like?  Have you found the dream job and stuck with it all along, or have you explored many options along the way?  In fact, you may even have had several dream jobs along the way!  This is what I love about working at a university.  There are so many different things happening here, and we have room to stay in one place but continue to grow.  There are wonderful resources available, like tuition benefits for academic courses or – I’m biased here – you can try the great classes offered by the CLE! 

UVA might not be able to help you become a can of beans or a horse, but it’s a great place to be if you’re a multipotentialite!  What will you learn next?