Transitioning out of Higher Education can be difficult. From pre-conceived notions about the work we do, to the feelings of "leaving" behind our students. All of these obstacles can create barriers for us to not bet on ourselves and take a leap of faith into other career adventures. Entrepreneurship can be a wonderful way to make your transition out of Higher Education. Becoming a consultant in your area of expertise, a research freelancer, or leaning into your transferable skills, or creating a company to fill a need organizations have. Learn about the journey of one Higher Education expat and the advice they offer to others.
I have found a new kind of fulfillment in my work now, and while it’s not the same as supporting students, I really enjoy making a huge difference in the lives of my clients and helping them be able to optimize their businesses.
Like many Higher Ed expats, I loved working with students (and felt fulfilled with my work), but I struggled to remain satisfied in an industry offering substantially less pay and flexibility than many others. In my last year in Higher Education, I started a side hustle to try and earn some extra money, and as it continued to grow, I realized I could take it full time. While I was sad to leave Higher Education, the alternative just made a lot more sense for me and where I’m at in life right now. It offered me 100% remote work, and much higher pay, compared to what I was earning at my previous institution.
The business I started was a Virtual Assistant (VA) company, MOVA (myownvirtualassistant.com). I do contract work for companies, helping them in areas they’re lacking personnel and/or resources in- general admin, operational, project management, social media / marketing, etc.
I found it to be a very easy transition from Higher Education, because often in Higher Ed I found myself having to multitask and take on many different types of responsibilities. This allowed me to quickly adapt to new VA roles and work for clients in a variety of industries. I have found a new kind of fulfillment in my work now, and while it’s not the same as supporting students, I really enjoy making a huge difference in the lives of my clients and helping them be able to optimize their businesses. I also love the creativity involved and getting to be my own boss- the move has brought tremendous happiness into my life, both professionally and personally, and while I look back fondly at some of my Higher Ed roles, I can’t imagine returning unless I found a role that offered comparable flexibility and compensation to the work I’m doing now.
For anyone looking to transition out of Higher Ed, I would offer two pieces of advice:
1) Take the time to meet with a career coach (your institution may offer this benefit for free at your career center), or look up free exercises online for writing down your skill sets and understanding how those skills can transfer to other industries. I think you’ll be surprised at just how many transferable skills you have, and this will make it easy to relate your Higher Ed experience to different industries when you’re interviewing for new jobs.
2) Don’t be afraid to share your aspirations of leaving Higher Ed with people in the industry. You may be job hunting on the DL and not want to mention it to anybody, but I was surprised and grateful for how many Higher Ed colleagues / friends ended up being part of my VA journey. These people may have side hustles themselves, or know of partners/friends/family member’s who are hiring outside of Higher Ed that they can connect you with.
Connect with Jaimi on LinkedIn.