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I had tears in my eyes during our first consultation. What a relief to talk to someone who understands the struggles of PhDs considering different career paths AND who has expertise in both ac and non-ac applications. Karen helped me re-discover and reinvent my professional self. Coming out of my PhD, I had the mindset that I “should” become a professor, and that I only knew my dissertation topic. Karen outright told me to delete “should/ought to” from my dictionary and gave me the courage to explore who I really am professionally. She is truly an expert whose insights cut across different fields. My applications for academic, private sector, and non-profit roles ranged widely but each was well tailored to the specifics of the industry and job, and presented me as someone very professional and confident. Karen really gets to know you and is very accessible. She cares, she remembers your details, and will see the gems in your experiences that you fail to see or take for granted. She is a counselor, cheerleader, and mentor in one. I would regularly write to her for advice as well as some cheerful spirit and calming attitude before an interview. Karen has given me both a new perspective and practical skills. I have more authenticity in my professional development, and have developed my own way of decoding job ads and tailoring my application materials. I have recommended Karen to many PhD friends and colleagues who were struggling but never had the idea to work with a consultant before. I worked with Karen on 8 different job applications, ranging from tenure-track faculty positions, business consulting firms, and international development organizations. I eventually landed a great job with a great salary in international development that suits my interest, background, and level of expertise.
Before I came to Karen I’d spent 7 years psyching myself out of a job search. I was a tenured full professor at a small liberal arts university—in the Humanities, this is the brass ring, right?—feeling a peculiar mix of shame and fear. I was grateful for the job but it wasn’t enough, and as a middle-aged woman who’d invested most of her energies into teaching and university service (vs. scholarly stardom) I felt like a cliche. I knew I had a lot of relevant expertise, but appeared to be simultaneously over-qualified and under-qualified for virtually everything that caught my eye, in and out of academe. Karen took my 17-page CV and translated it into a 2-page resume that became a touchstone as well as a tool—clarifying the version of myself I wanted to be next. During our Skype sessions and mock interviews she helped me find the focus and courage I needed to seek, and find, a new job in a new region. My life feels like an adventure again. The position is on a college campus, off the tenure track, and it feels remarkably fine—liberating, even—to see myself as a more strategic and and flexible professional.
I appreciated the analysis you provided of my background materials and that you sent them in advance of the initial free consult; it gave me a sample of the kind of insights I could expect. Given that I was mentally “stuck” when I contacted you, it helped that you had concrete next steps: gather 2-3 potential job ads and then send them to you. Small, actionable steps truly helped get the ball rolling. Your analysis of the different job postings was also useful. By explaining why the different job postings do and do not fit my profile, you modeled the savvy analytical skills needed to sift through the morass of job details. I did get stuck again later, when I had to write the resume and cover letter, but you were so good at encouraging me to make changes. As you said it would, the process became easier — smoother and faster. I learned that the non-academic world has a different vocabulary — there are “categories” for things that academics perform without acknowledgment in academia, and certainly not in the academic CV. I think this unacknowledged work contributes to learned helplessness, making many believe they lack transferable skills, and are trapped in a vicious cycle without exit. Fortunately, I had some prior exposure to the public sector. But it’s one thing to have those skills. It’s quite another to articulate and translate them legibly on paper. In each case, you added a very nice, human touch to all my documents, especially the cover letters—emotional intelligence, really. That is something I most appreciated about your work with my materials.Your “Building Blocks” method of interview preparation helped me organize and simplify my answers into manageable units. As soon as I heard a keyword, I immediately had substantive content to talk about. The technique worked in actual interviews, making me feel calm, cool and collected. Above all, it is effective regardless of the order of the questions! You also taught me how to be proactive and handle contingency. For instance, when a professional reference hadn’t gotten back to me in a timely manner, you encouraged me to send the reference anyway, albeit at a later date. Grad school has a tendency to make one feel powerless; these subtle but empowering expressions of agency helped increase my confidence, an immaterial — though no less vital — form of support. You provided the right balance of timely, constructive critique and encouragement — a dream mentor!
Karen [is a highly] requested, experienced and successful Alt/Post-Ac coach at TPII - she has a unique background that evenly bridges the academic and post-ac, has extensive career coaching and advising experience, as well as hands-on skills at helping you conceptualize and write your application documents. Most important of all, she has a truly deep understanding of, shall we say, “higher values”—i.e, that your work needs to have meaning, and is an expression of your larger aspirations in life and in the world. Karen understands that this isn’t just a job search: it’s a re-evaluation of your sense of self, and some of your deepest values.