This post was originally published on November 3, 2013. Since I’ve gotten some questions about and interest in my career story recently, I thought I’d update and repost the series. Here’s Part 1!
A question I’m often asked is how did you get from college to doing what you’re doing today? I love hearing about other people’s career paths, so I thought you might like to hear my story.
Let’s start with I’m doing now. I’m location-independent or, as some people say, a digital nomad. I call myself a “part-time nomad” because I have a home base in my adopted state of North Carolina and I travel a lot for work and fun. Most of my work is done virtually, so I can work anywhere I have my laptop and an internet connection.
In the past couple years I’ve traveled and worked in Australia, Germany, Scotland, England, the Netherlands, France, and several US states. Whenever possible I turn work trips into workations, meaning I go early or stay longer than a conference, meeting or consulting gig is scheduled. I’ll often rent an apartment for a week or two and continue working while I experience a new city.
I’m more nomadic that some, less than others. Being a part-time nomad works great for me and my husband at this stage in our lives, and – much to my surprise – I’ve grown to love having a home base as much as I love being on the road!
As for my work, here’s what I’m currently doing:
1. Teaching at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. I teach an undergraduate intercultural education service-learning class as part of the Carolina Navigators program. I really love teaching this class, working with undergraduate students, and keeping one foot in higher ed.
How do I teach a class and remain a part-time nomad? Here’s the short version: I turned the course into a hybrid online/face-to-face class.
But not because I wanted to be location-independent! After teaching the course as a traditional face-to-face class for three semesters, I just wasn’t satisfied with learning being constrained to Monday and Wednesday afternoons from 3:30-4:45pm.
Plus, I wanted the ability to grow our program so we could work with students across the US, and even across the world. So, I pitched a hybrid online/face-to-face class format and received a course development grant to create a new type of service-learning course at UNC.
Each semester I fit my travel around my face-to-face meetings with students. And I’m always available to them on Skype, even if that means meeting with them at 11pm at night when I’m in a different time zone. I really appreciate that teaching the class this way allows me to actually do the intercultural work I teach about.
2. Intercultural Education Consulting. For the past couple years I’ve been working with the Council of International Schools on a new program for K-12 schools around the world. I really love this gig. My colleagues are amazing educators and global citizens who live all over the world. Many of them have spent 20+ years as expats and school leaders.
A lot of my work for CIS and their partner schools is virtual but I have done some onsite work for them in the Netherlands, Australia, the US, and the UK. My work with CIS combines what I love most – education, intercultural learning, technology, and working with people from all over the world.
I also sometimes take one-off intercultural education consulting and training gigs, mostly related to K-12 and higher ed.
3. Small Planet Studio, LLC. Technically, all three of my gigs are wrapped up in Small Planet Studio, LLC but when I talk about SPS I’m usually talking about this website and the tools, re-entry workbook, courses, and events I offer here. Because I’ve scaled back on some of my other work I’m now able to maintain a more consistent focus on SPS, which has been awesome!
I’ve got some new courses coming up and I’m also going to start offering 1:1 services…more about that coming soon. 🙂
So, there you have it. That’s what I’m up to these days.
Since college I’ve pretty much always liked the jobs I’ve held but I REALLY like what I’m doing now. The location-independent lifestyle, being an entrepreneur, combining higher ed, K-12, and business – this is what I’ve been working towards since college.
I’ve never sought power or prestige or a specific position in a specific organization. Instead, my goal was always to do work that’s challenging, that I enjoy, and that affords me freedom, flexibility, and autonomy (my three life and career “ingredients”). It’s not always easy but at this point in my life, I really love where I am and what I’m doing.
Stay tuned…on Monday we’ll go back to the beginning to when I graduated from college and began my career journey.