Sarabeth – Career Hybridity from Art to Innovation

Sarabeth – Career Hybridity from Art to Innovation

#20 – From switching schools in undergrad, to working in the Bahamas, to living in 4 states before she was 30, moving around was never something that held Sarabeth Berk back. She had never been afraid of change, from the moment she decided to shift away from her plan of working with computers in university. Instead, she went in an entirely opposite direction and studied art. Upon graduating, she loved the creativity working as an art teacher gave her and found roles that she enjoyed. At the same time, she had the desire to affect change on a larger scale, which led her to pursue first a Master’s degree, and then a Ph.D.  After working for a private school, a school district, and a foundation working on early childhood initiatives, Sarabeth now finds herself educating people on the value of their career hybridity.  What is career hybridity you might ask?  Listen to Sarabeth’s career journey to find out. 

You can find Sarabeth at the following locations:

Website – www.morethanmytitle.com
Social Media - @morethanmytitle

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The below transcript is A.I generated with light editing and may not be 100% accurate.

Transcript
Jonathan Collaton:

Good morning, good afternoon or good evening, you're listening to career crossroads. And if you're new here, welcome. And if you're not new welcome back. I'm Jonathan Collaton. And this is the podcast where I talk to one person each week about all the decisions that led them to their current career path. This week, I chat with Sarabeth, the first American guest I've had on the show. Let's listen to her story. And then after, as I do every week, I'll share some of what I learned from this interview. Sarabeth, welcome to career crossroads. How are you doing today?

Sarabeth Berk:

I'm so great. Thanks for having me, Jonathan.

Jonathan Collaton:

I'm really excited that you're here. And you're calling me from Denver today. Is that right?

Sarabeth Berk:

Yeah, Colorado in the house.

Jonathan Collaton:

Fantastic. So I can't recall in my life, if I've ever met anyone from Colorado, I'm from Canada. And so I've hosted the time in the States has been spent along the east coast driving to and from Florida, which is a very common Canadian soldier in to make, but never made it over to Colorado, but maybe one day,

Sarabeth Berk:

I can say I've only been to Canada once. And it's been Vancouver. So like, what I need to come to your territory.

Jonathan Collaton:

Yeah, you know, it's funny, it would probably cost me less money to fly to Denver than it would for me to fly to Vancouver. So it'd be easier for me to actually visit where you are than Vancouver. It's good to travel in Canada is kind of kind of a pain sometimes. But anyway, travel. That's not today's podcast, that'll be another podcast sometime. Today, we're going to talk about your career path. And so whenever I start off with any guest, I'd like to get a bit of a background of what you were like as a teenager, because I really do think it's it's that time in your life where you start to set out and figure out what are you going to do particularly because everybody has a plan up till the end of high school. And then you just got to decide what to do. So let's go back to you in high school. Tell me where you were raised, what you were like, what things influenced you?

Sarabeth Berk:

Yeah, I was in the mountains in Colorado, I grew up in a really small town called Basalt. And there was one traffic late and, you know, I lived up a dirt road, I barely had neighbors, we had a giant satellite dish, you know, internet, which is kind of coming out and it was still the dial up. And I went to high school that was about 40 minutes away at the base of the ski mountains. And I was such a wallflower. Like, I'm embarrassed to admit it. But that's who I was, I really didn't know myself I wanted so badly to fit in and belong. But I was nerdy, I'd love to get good grades and study. And just, you know, I thought performance was the whole name of the game that to be successful, you just had to do your best. And people probably called me a teacher's pet. So I was not the cool girl. And I think I just was coming into myself, I didn't know myself yet. And my interests were being artistic. So I always had to take an art class. I fell in love with my art teacher, I just looked up to her as this role model. And then I did like all the, you know, honors classes academically. And I was also really interested in computers. So as an internship, I built my own computer, I thought I would have that for college. And so there's this just weird juxtaposition of this analytical mind, this creative mind, this kind of being ahead of my peers and not fitting in and just trying to figure it myself out. That's a little bit of a picture of where I was in my teenage years.

Jonathan Collaton:

So with all of those different things going on in your life, building computers, and you're talking about performing things like that, how do you determine what you want to do when you're done high school? Was there something that you were really passionate about? Like I've had people I've interviewed who are like, I saw law and order and I wanted a lawyer, or I've had a lot of people whose parents really pushed them in one direction. So what was it for you? I mean, you mentioned maybe the computer as a college thing. So was that what you thought you'd end up doing?

Sarabeth Berk:

Um, I was really stuck. I didn't know what I wanted to be. I had no understanding really what my options were. And so I think I was sheltered. But I think I was caught between two lines. One was around computers. I think computer animation really stood out to me. Pixar movies, were just coming out and I thought, wow, I love graphic design and being creative. But then you can do it through the computer. And that sounded like a match made in heaven. So that was on my mind. And then also just what adults and my parents were telling me to be I really listened to their influence. They told me to follow something that was more academic and obviously had a stronger career path because the arts were hard to make money from so I was sort of listening to help people saw me and also trying to figure out what do I do with it? computer animation. And when I got to college, I quickly understood at that time coding was in the mathematics and science realm, and I did not have that skill set, I didn't have the appetite to learn really advanced math equations and coding languages. So that scared me away from computer animation pretty quickly. And it took me a bit of trial and error changing majors a lot, I got that catalog, they give you of all the courses and all the degrees when I was in college. And I think I've flagged like 20 different ones anthropology, political science. I don't even remember, what actually ended up happening is, I went back to my artistic nature, I just felt core to me was being creative. And all these other majors were turning that side of myself off. So I transferred schools and went to art school and finished in a really interesting brand new program at the time called visual and critical studies. And so it was half all the studio art classes I wanted to do like screen printing and paper making and shadow puppetry. And then a lot of visual theory and critical inquiry on like trans modalities was a topic I took it was how does fly tying, emulate the idea of, you know, bugs on water, and I was like, Whoa, we're talking about the craziest stuff. So that was the degree I got an undergrad. And to be honest, at the end of that, I had no idea what job I was going to get with that. And I fell into my first complete identity crisis right after college.

Jonathan Collaton:

Okay, so a few a few questions there. Where did you where'd you go to school the first time and then you transferred to somewhere else?

Sarabeth Berk:

Yeah, I started at a state school in Colorado, Colorado State, because I got a partial scholarship. And it was, it just seemed to fit the bill. It was affordable.

Jonathan Collaton:

Is that in Denver?

Sarabeth Berk:

it's in Fort Collins, so north of Denver about an hour.

Jonathan Collaton:

Okay. So either way, what I guess I want to figure out is you had to leave your small little one traffic light town and go into somewhere substantially larger, I imagine.

Sarabeth Berk:

Yeah, it blew my mind. I mean, the campus is 30,000 plus students. It's also a really agricultural part of the state. And so I was around a lot of people that came from farming communities. And the key point though, it was still very homogenous. So I didn't get a lot of diversity. When I transferred, I went to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. So I went to a different my, our student housing was downtown in the loop, I lived in a skyscraper took an elevator to my room. And I remember walking down the street, seeing people and just feeling overwhelmed by the amount of individuality and just diversity of how people looked and what they're wearing. And that was mind blowing. That was huge for me.

Jonathan Collaton:

Okay, and what did you say the name of your degree was, again?

Sarabeth Berk:

visual and critical studies,

Jonathan Collaton:

visual and critical studies,

Sarabeth Berk:

It was pretty interdisciplinary, which was well suited to me. And as I look backwards in time, my my being is a very interdisciplinary nature, that's always been core to me, and I didn't understand how to work with that I always fought against, oh, no, I have to focus on one thing.

Jonathan Collaton:

Hmm. Okay, so. So having that feeling of having to focus on one thing, and then taking this interdisciplinary degree, and then you graduate, where you just stuck, you mentioned, you had this sort of like crisis where you just kind of like, what do i do i go towards one thing, but I just studied all these different things. Like, from a purely psychological standpoint, there's a lot going on there. But then I also want to hear about the practical side of things. Like, unless you're moving home with mom and dad, which a lot of people do, I did that for a while after university, but you still gotta make money and pay the bills. Right? So how do you balance those things?

Sarabeth Berk:

Yeah, honestly, I remember having a total panic attack. Going back to that performer, you know, successful student, I realized the only identity I knew how to be and to be well was a student. And so the minute you graduate, you lose that title. And so I really didn't know who I was. And I didn't have enough career coaching and someone mentoring me and telling me like the first steps to just start interviewing and using my skills. So I immediately applied to grad school because I thought, oh, I'll just go straight into graduate program. But I was totally burned out. There is no way emotionally and mentally, physically, I was ready to start again in three months after graduating. So I deferred for a year from that program to kind of regroup and ground myself. I moved home with my parents. But I was also really depressed. I just felt like I was a failure because I didn't have a job straight out of college. And I didn't feel successful and I just I fell into a dark place. So that that fall was honestly I worked at a coffee shop. While living with my parents. I was barista but then I became a ski instructor during the Winter because I was back in the mountains. And that was such a saving moment. Because if you've ever been around ski instructors, they're a fun crew. You don't have homework, you don't have deadlines, you don't have these things I was so accustomed to. So my social life took off, I was finally available and influenced by people that are like, yeah, teaching at school is not a hard job, you have to keep kids happy all day, make sure they get home safely, because I taught kids. And at night, we would go have fun. And just, it allowed me to realize like, oh, there's more to life than studying, because I was that boxed in, in my brain. So that was very eye opening. And then simultaneously, I quickly knew I can't do this as a career. This is a short term gig. I'm having fun. But what's next, the grad program I deferred from I realized it was the wrong program for for me. So then I started reapplying to different grad programs. I was looking at an art education program, I didn't want to have to take more tests, like I'm terrible at standardized tests, like the juries. So if that was a prereq, I said no to that program, and I didn't want to have to take additional undergrad credits to get into a program either. So I really was best positioned for art education, or an MFA master Fine Arts. And I ended up getting accepted to the Rhode Island School of Design, which is very prestigious,

Jonathan Collaton:

oh, yeah, I've, I've heard of that school. Good for you.

Sarabeth Berk:

And that kind of re instilled some confidence plus the time, you know, being away from studies helped me open up again. And I had an internship with a local art museum. So I was sort of like getting experienced, too. So that was sort of the gateway of transition for me.

Jonathan Collaton:

You know, I don't know if this is just me making this up. But I find this whenever I talk to Americans, that there's a big difference Canadians and Americans between the distance people in the US will travel for school. And I think maybe it's just because I'm from Southern Ontario. And there is like four major cities. And I don't know, dozens of universities within like five hours in any direction. So you'd never have to fly anywhere for university. But you move from this small town in the mountains to Denver, then Chicago, and then now Rhode Island. So that's a lot of moving around. And I I have to I'm curious about like the level of independence, how quickly you felt you really had to grow up to take it to kind of just deal with the fact that you're moving away. And I'm going to guess unless you tell me otherwise, that you probably didn't know a lot of people in those places you were moving to and or was that an influencing factor in why you did end up in these places?

Sarabeth Berk:

That's a great question. I think a few things, I seem to be more of an anomaly compared to my friends and peers, I've moved around much more than they have. And now you're making me wonder why what was it in me, and I think I am very independent by nature, but also very goal driven, and like, I follow my dreams and aspirations. And rusty just had this, you know, prestige about it that I was like, wow, if they're accepting me, I'm going no matter what, and it didn't matter about knowing anyone. At that point in my life, I was very open to just starting over. And to be honest, I think there was a level of running away, I think I was unhappy with family dynamics, and just, I wanted a fresh start, like I was tired of being under whatever stereotypes and reputation I had in my background, I was looking to start new.

Jonathan Collaton:

Okay, so So what was it like? Like, how different was that program going to be from the one that you had initially applied to and defer to?

Sarabeth Berk:

um, probably night and day, it's hard to compare since I never started the other one. The other one was, it doesn't matter. It was some visual critical creative program. RISDI was really structured. It was a full year Master's in art and design education. I had a cohort of I think, 15 to 20 students that were all in the program with me. So that was really nice, because we got to bond we had consistent courses together, we got to take some electives, where I got to do the studio art making, which feeds my creative soul. And I mean, it is beautiful. The studios are gorgeous, they have state of the art equipment, and then my instructors were best in what they do. So I felt that the talent was great. And then we spent the spring like any education program, doing your student teaching. So I was in an elementary school for a bit and then a high school for a bit. And I just couldn't wait to graduate and be ready for you know, a career in the workforce. But at that time, it was like 2006. In the United States, No Child Left Behind was a major policy that was being being enacted that really put restrictions on schools to focus on literacy and math and test scores and standardized testing was really big. So the arts were being cut, and really diminished in schools. And knowing that what compels me about teaching art is the freedom the expression, the exploratory nature. have like, you just dive in and like, you know, develop creativity. I had a conflict of interest of what the schools wanted versus the kind of teaching I was was going to do. So what happened on this time I didn't graduate without a plan. I graduated with a job. But my job was in the Bahamas, I found a school that was there called semester schools. There's a few of them around the country. And high school students come for a semester at a time and then go back to their regular school. So this school was called The Island School and it was on Cape Eleuthera, really tiny island in the Bahamas. And they are connected with local townships. So we did some community outreach to build the learning and education of the local people, but also had 40 students coming for a few months. And I was the environmental art teacher, we've literally got the students scuba certified, they measured water quality, and looked at coral reefs and did studies for math and science. And I incorporated the arts and I did a lot of like photography and environmental sculptures, installations, things that were made from the local materials. And so they didn't take resources, and they were recyclable. And we were teaching that ethic of, you know, don't don't harm the land and be one with nature. So that was a pretty radical position.

Jonathan Collaton:

That sounds like no fun at all. I'm sure you didn't enjoy that. I'm sure the students had a bad time. I'm so torn between just like I'm holding in my like jealous rage. Like, I think that's why I do this podcast, I just get to live vicariously through other people maybe. So that's awesome. How do you find a job like that? Like, do they go recruiting for people in the program you were in? Or did you just go to Google and or like job boards, the Career Center at the University? How do you find that?

Sarabeth Berk:

I really think I just was internet searching. And that's my best recollection of how I found it. Right time, right place, right job search. And I applied and they flew me down for an interview. And I was like, heck, yeah, I'm in. I mean, that paid no money, we got room and board, and like a stipend per month. So it was really about the experience. And just getting out of the country. I never did study abroad. So for me, this was sort of my supplement to working outside the country.

Jonathan Collaton:

That's, that's an interesting. I didn't study abroad either. But I really wish I had. And I've been lucky that I've been able to travel quite a bit since I've finished university. But it's one of those things I look back on. And like if I had had the opportunity to do that, that would have been a huge, interesting extra component to to my university career. But and then I wonder like, how would that have affected my career given that my career is impacted by the fact that I volunteered at my university, and so but I suppose for a lot of other people, like if you can go and find a job somewhere in another country, where it's going to get you experience that you can bring back and say to employers like I studied this, and then I went and did this somewhere else, so I can bring in this whole new perspective. Like, that's got to be a huge advantage over a lot of other people who are really restricted in some ways by the experience they have had in that it's not nearly as broad.

Sarabeth Berk:

Yeah, yeah, that's quite right. I think for me, the other level of that is just the social emotional, cultural development, like my human development game so much because my perspective opened, and I experienced things I would have never experienced the US. You know, we hitch rides all the time, because that was the culture like nobody had a car, you just put your thumb out, and I was like, oh, hitchhiking, that's what you do. And friendly. Bob was the guy in town. He was my landlord. He owned the liquor store. He had car rentals, like he was the guy and yeah, it just was a very different way of living.

Jonathan Collaton:

That's awesome. Okay, so how how do you then go from something like that to coming back to the US? Like, like you said, it didn't pay a whole lot. And so yeah, you're when you're done that? Did they fly you home? Or are you like, Alright, now I got to book a ticket and figure out where to go. And from everything I've heard from you so far, you didn't seem very restricted by location in any way. So how do you sort of narrow down what to do next when you really have everything in front of you?

Sarabeth Berk:

Yeah. Well, I quickly got disenchanted from island life because I missed movie theaters and shopping and friends like every, you know, just amenity you're used to you don't have and the bugs and he kind of took their toll too. So there are factors pulling me back to the States. Some family reasons too. So I didn't teach there from I think I lasted one semester when I moved back home. But this time I moved in with a friend's family because I needed to not be with my parents. I needed to kind of just restart with a different location and figure out what I was doing. I ended up substitute teaching and using that teaching background until I could kind of get my feet under me. Then that was the moment I landed my first I'd say career job, I got a really great break where this nonprofit that does art workshops, and was really well known for these adult workshops as well as children's workshops. And I got hired to run the children's program. And so I was a kid in a candy store because it was kind of like art school over again, these really reputable artists from around the country would be flown in to teach painting, and there was a woodshop, and a ceramic studio and photography. I mean, you name it. So I was surrounded by the best artists in the world. But then I was being paid to create the most innovative children's art classes. And we had over 300 kids that summer come through them on a weekly basis. And I dreamed up who would teach them what the topic was. Sometimes I taught a lot of times, I was just hiring people that I was inspired by. And I was making sure it wasn't cookie cutter, I was pushing the limits of like we're doing skateboard design. I collaborated with the environmental studies organization down the road, they brought in snakes and little, you know, animals that kids could draw from nature. And I just was like, in love with this job. It was everything I needed, because I could be free and creative.

Jonathan Collaton:

That's fantastic. So in terms of timeline, because there's a lot of like jumping around from university to university, then going live in the island life. So what's the kind of timeline years wise to give people an idea of how long it took to get you from the end of undergrad to the beginning of what you would call your first career? How long was that?

Sarabeth Berk:

And this is going to be fast. So 2004, I graduated undergrad, started rizzy in 2006, graduated in 2007. and came back and got this new job running the children's program, I think in 2007 ish. So yeah,

Jonathan Collaton:

so we're looking at like something like two and a half, three and a half years, something in that range.

Sarabeth Berk:

Yeah, yes.

Jonathan Collaton:

And you found something that, like you said, it was really, it felt like it was the right fit for you. Yeah,

Sarabeth Berk:

yeah, it really was the first time I felt in my zone, and able to use all of my talents and be growing because I'm a person that needs to be challenged. I don't want the status quo. I get tired if things are too complacent. So honestly, I think I would have stayed in that job much longer. But I hit my ceiling. And that's why I left after about three and a half years.

Jonathan Collaton:

Perfect. And the why between job ops is the thing I really liked to explore. So how did you find something then that would allow you to move your ceiling to somewhere else? And was it Did you find you had to like, switch up what you were doing or was just a different job in the same field enough to get you what you were looking for.

Sarabeth Berk:

I didn't know exactly what I wanted to do. So I knew I was applying. I also thought about going back to grad school. Again. I remember applying to Harvard, because I was like I'm going to the top of the chain. And they had a new program that was an educational systems leadership program that sounded really attractive to me. But I'm as I reflect on my application materials, I know I sent a really pathetic essay, I just didn't really understand what they were looking for. Anyway, I got a job offer. Outside of Colorado again, it was in Washington and Seattle. And it was with a community college and they were looking for a program director that was connecting different programs like interior design and graphic design and a few different things. It was like a new position and I had to kind of figure out what it was. So pretty much the minute I got that offer. I said okay, by Colorado, I mean, what's keeping me here and I took off again. But this is where it gets interesting. I only lost that job for three weeks.

Jonathan Collaton:

Three weeks. Okay, let's hear the story?

Sarabeth Berk:

Well, these were, I think, you know, it's about crossroads and pivots. And I still had my resume floating around and out of the blue. I'd been on the job maybe a week or two, I get a phone call from a school down the coast in San Diego. And they were saying, we're looking for an art teacher and can we interview you? We got your resume from this, you know, this group? Sure. I'll take an interview. I mean, why not? I had nothing to lose interview went great. They said can we fly you down for an in person interview and I was like, free trip to San Diego? I'll say Yeah, sure.

Jonathan Collaton:

Yeah, sounds great.

Sarabeth Berk:

And um, I went down and they loved me It went really well. And a few days later, they said we want to offer you the job. And this was late in the school year. This was end of August, even early September. They were really in a desperate mode. Whatever it happened with a prior art teacher it just the timing was off. Usually teachers get hired in the spring to get ready for the next school year. So they wanted me to start as soon as possible. And I was like, wow, okay, I'm jumping ship from this new job packing up moving down the coast and I made it happen.

Jonathan Collaton:

Okay, but But why? What about that job was more interesting that led you to to just pick up and Move again, like another state or two states away from where you were, and into the biggest state from the south as you can go right.

Sarabeth Berk:

few reasons I can remember one, the job in Seattle wasn't exactly what I thought it was going to be very quickly, I could tell the energy was a little off like it wasn't what they had pitched. And I could feel the internal politics were sticky. To the money was better down at San Diego three, I was more attracted by what they had to offer. And I think the fourth factor had to do with I had a friend in San Diego, so I knew someone down there. And a guy that was kind of dangling somewhere, it was like an on again, off again, relationship. He loves San Diego, and he's like, you should totally move there. And I really didn't know San Diego was like, well, Southern California, it looks good. Why not? And I just jumped It was definitely an intuitive decision more than overthinking it.

Jonathan Collaton:

Mm hmm. So I'm like, sometimes when I hear things like this, the super mundane practical stuff interests me like, did you have a lease already, like a place to live? How did you get out of that you had to move? How's that work?

Sarabeth Berk:

Yeah, the user amazing problem solving moments, it was my first major lease I had signed on. And I did have to get out of it, I had to break a lease. It turned out my apartment was owned by a major like conglomerate of housing rental places. So this wasn't easy to just go to them and be like, sorry, I need to move on. I ended up I had a leak in my bathroom. And they came and told me, You know, I just need to do X or Y and they fixed it. But it actually really wasn't fixed. So I ended up getting my own private person to test what was going on in that bathroom. And he found water moisture within the entire apartment and cited like high levels of mold and spores. Well, if you know the Seattle market, that is like the number one thing that renters and landlords like don't want to deal with, and you can get sued over it. So the minute I show them that report, they're like, they actually told me they wanted me to move out as opposed to like me breaking the lease. I was like, that's a win win. I'm done.

Jonathan Collaton:

Wow, that's a pretty convenient, I mean, for something bad to happen. Like that's kind of as good of a bad situation as you can end up in

Sarabeth Berk:

A signing from the universe maybe?

Jonathan Collaton:

Wow, no kidding. And so what was that like? Then you go from Super rainy Seattle down to what I imagine is super sunny San Diego. And, and the job was more in line with what you were looking for?

Sarabeth Berk:

I suppose so. It...I had a notion in my heart that I wanted to become a leader somehow and education someday. And I had a feeling that no one would take me seriously in leadership unless I had classroom experience under my belt. And I felt like on my track record, I needed to get a few years in the classroom teaching. And also I wanted that, right because I was trained in that that's what my degree in Brizzy was about. So that's what San Diego was, it was my full time teacher moment. I taught grades six through 12. I taught two dimensional art practices. So anything that was painting and drawing, printmaking mixed media. And to be honest, it was a very Cush job. I was at a private school. They had these exemplary students, they had a lot of resources, the campus, there was a campus. And it was gorgeous. So I had no complaints. If I ever picked the perfect teaching job for art, that was the one for me. So I wanted to just enjoy that.

Jonathan Collaton:

Okay, so now I, whenever I hear people talk about like, it's like that perfect job, they like found the thing they really like. So there's always got to be some really big catalyst that makes you move on from that. And so what was your catalyst? Because it's, it's one of those things. It's like you spent all this time you finally are doing this teaching thing you like, and how long were you in that job before things in your head started to get a little like, maybe I'll try something else.

Sarabeth Berk:

I you'll notice a theme to my story. I've moved about every two and a half to three years. That's how quickly I'm going through my job history. And it was within months that I was like what's next, I knew this wasn't a long term position. Because the dream I have in my heart is to change and to transform and to make things better than when I found them and to support others, especially to inspire people. And so, being in the classroom, you're in the classroom all day, you can influence the students in front of you who I did, many of them I keep in touch with. But I couldn't change the system's I couldn't have a voice at the table. Like why do classes look this way? Why is education structured this way? Why is there so much burnout and suicide and anxiety in high schoolers? Like, these are the deeper enduring questions I want to be a part of solving. But the label I had over my head was Sarah Beth, the art teacher. That's how people saw me. How was I going to get promoted to these, you know, Chair positions and administrative level roles that I wanted. So I felt stuck and I felt Like, if I was going to get to those levels, it was probably going to mean I have to sit and wait for, you know, people to quit or whatever. So I felt I need another degree, I need better credentials. So I actually enrolled concurrently in a doctoral program. So the same year I started that job in San Diego, I got, I got applications out again for grad school, I sent one to the University of California, San Diego, and I sent one to the University of Denver, because I was kind of feeling pulled back to Colorado again, I got rejected from University of Denver, but I got admitted to UCSD. And they had a really strange program where the first year of the doctoral program is overlap with their master's program. And then you do another two years. And the first year program with the masters students was about action research, which was fabulous, because you actually pick a challenge in your own classroom. And you study that in in situ in this in that real situation. So I was learning how to take field notes on my students how to measure creativity and growth and creative learning, and create a case study of what I was doing as part of a curriculum. And that was fabulous, because it got me reengaged in teaching, because I was thinking more about more than just what are my students doing? I was thinking about my practice and improving, how do I become a better teacher to get better results, and, and everything involved. So I got through that program, but I wasn't totally in love with it. So I reapplied to do to potentially transfer. And I was dating that same guy, he was still in my life. And he was moving back to Colorado. And I came to another fork in the road at the end of my second year teaching. I knew I was done in that classroom, I didn't know what I would do next, I had the application out to University of Denver. And then I also applied to other jobs, while I got a job offer in the bay area near San Francisco to be a program director with I think it was like a girls Leadership Academy for middle school girls to empower them really interesting work. And this time I got accepted to do. And that literally came in the same week I got both offers. And I did not know what to do. It was a soul searching moment.

Jonathan Collaton:

Yeah. And were you having to transfer like you? It sounds like you wouldn't have been done the program yet in San Diego. So you would have been transferring as well.

Sarabeth Berk:

Yeah, I've gone to like six different universities, I've all these transcripts I've transferred, I just, this is me. This is me learning figuring it out.

Jonathan Collaton:

So a lot going on at the same time. And something that's come up from like other conversations I've had, too, is is like, sure, this is a podcast about careers, right. And everybody's career is important to them. But a lot of people to like you mentioned this on again, off again, relationship, like, there are other factors that aren't just you at a certain point that begin to impact the decisions you make, right? It's it's one thing when you're like young and single and, and you're not tied to anywhere, but then once you start to care about other people around you and what, like if you want to move they've got to move to or, or vice versa, it becomes there's a lot more to consider when you're discussing where am I gonna go?

Sarabeth Berk:

Yeah, I'm a romantic, I want to follow my heart and be in love and start a family and have that as part of my life as well. And at the same time, I'm so career driven. And that's been a balancing act of which boys do I listen to the one that's building a career as a strong empowered woman that wants to change the world? Or am I trying to settle down and follow my partner and I've always been jumping back and forth on that fence.

Jonathan Collaton:

Interesting. Okay, so so you're at, you've got this crossroad again. Now, you've got the Denver University, giving you that offer. And then you've got the job offer in the Bay Area. So what happens and why? How do you make the choice? Or like I guess it was in person in Denver, you couldn't do a distance ed or anything like that?

Sarabeth Berk:

No, it was definitely an in person program at that point remote doctorates weren't as big back then there

Jonathan Collaton:

There was no COVID back then.

Sarabeth Berk:

Yeah, no COVID yet, thankfully, I and it was the recession. So you know, there was some of that factor too, of just like trying to level up when things were not going well in the economy. So I'm going to sound sheepish as I do this. It sounds similar to what happened with Seattle, so I accepted the job offer in the Bay Area. And then within a week, I declined. I rescinded my acceptance and accepted the University of Denver job or grad program. I think it just it was sort of, I was second guessing myself and trying to make a quick decision. And then when I made it, I realized I made the wrong one. And I needed to come back to Colorado. And at that point, it was because the relationship was calling me but also the doctoral program at University of Denver was stronger than the one I was in, or at least I felt it was a better fit. And so that was that I moved back to Colorado in about 2012.

Jonathan Collaton:

All right. So, did you have more water damage in your apartment in San Francisco? or How did you get into that?

Sarabeth Berk:

Oh, how did I get? Um, no, that was good timing. My lease was done on that one. We didn't move until it was end of the school year. It was it was the right time. So everything came together. Yeah.

Jonathan Collaton:

Right. But you had a well, I guess how close like San Francisco and San Diego. They're not close. Are they? No, they're very far. Yeah. So like, you live for a week in San Francisco working there, though?

Sarabeth Berk:

No, I just accepted verbally. And so no moving was like, it was I packed up my truck, and we drove from San Diego to Colorado. So that was the move.

Jonathan Collaton:

Alright, so you get back to Colorado. And obviously, it's in Denver. Sounds like given Denver university or University of Denver. And that program, given that you were transferring, how much more time? Like how long would the program have been full time and then you came in partway through?

Sarabeth Berk:

Okay, you're, you're talking to me, and I'm like, I don't add time to clocks. I do all my degrees in the amount of time, like, even when I transferred from Colorado State to the artists of Chicago, finished in four years. So right, when I transferred to University of Denver doctoral programs, I mean, I think it was like 120 credit hours. So it's, if you go full time, you can do it in four years, but they give you up to seven years, because the dissertation is where people slow down, and it's on your own clock. I graduated in. I did my doctorate in four years. So I started in 2011, in California, and I finished in 2015, at Denver.

Jonathan Collaton:

Gotcha. Sorry, I thought that Denver, I thought the California one was only three, which is why I was asking about that.

Sarabeth Berk:

It was it was a Ed.D. And we can get into the differences if you want to, but it's a three versus a four year program.

Jonathan Collaton:

Gotcha. All right. So you moved to to Denver, you're in that program, and you felt it was going to be a better fit for you? Yeah. And at the end of that program, did that feel like you were definitely made the right choice, and you got what you wanted out of it?

Sarabeth Berk:

Man, I want certainty like that. Um, I went through my next professional identity crisis.

Jonathan Collaton:

Okay.

Sarabeth Berk:

I was a student again, and I kind of felt ashamed. I didn't want to walk out into the world when I was networking. And people ask me, what do you do? And I'd be like, I'm a grad student, because I felt, you know, I'm 30. Now I'm a student, again, what the heck is going on? I should have a career, I should not have that answer anymore. So there are some shame. And then I didn't want to introduce myself as an art teacher, because that was my former identity. I was trying to move past that. So he literally didn't know how to answer the question, what do you do, and that became this hunting family. It was just, I wanted to figure myself out, I really wanted to know what is my professional identity. And this is what turned into my dissertation research project. So concurrent, doing my full time graduate studies, I was employed by the university because I needed a job. And I was running a creativity and entrepreneurship, living and learning community for freshmen students. It was great, they live together, they took this course. And I for the first time was exposed to entrepreneurship. I had never gone to business classes had no business exposure whatsoever. I didn't even know what entrepreneurship was. But I love figuring things out. And this change the trajectory, really, this was another Cornerstone moment of my career, because I started going to startup events, and meeting entrepreneurs and learning how they think and act and I would shadow. And I was just enthralled. Because startup, people are action takers. They go after big ideas, they solve problems. They don't sit back. And the education world is kind of opposite to that. They want to do good, but they move so slow. And they don't think radically. And they don't really push the box, even when they say let's think out of the box. So I was totally inspired by this new world of entrepreneurship. And I was trying to bring that energy back into education, which now I know people call it being an intrapreneur. And so when I started the research about professional identity, I was interviewing people and asking them, tell me about how you're more than your job title, like what does your job title mean? And that opened up this beautiful, aha, because I saw people had multiple professional identities hidden under their job title. They're like, Oh, you know, people call me, you know, Director of x. But really, I have to, like sell ideas. And I have to work with the marketing team. And I'm over here doing this thing. Oh, and I have to, you know, be a therapist, to my employees. When this is happening. I was like, you really I had no idea. So it started to make me wonder I've been using this term of being a teacher and I'm in a grad program with other quote unquote, teachers, but we are all very different types of teachers. That is just a blanket term for something we do but it doesn't exist. For us who we really are, and through research through the interviews, and then kind of learning about the concept of intersectionality, from diversity studies, that was the moment I realized, wait a minute, I can be this artist identity educator identity. At that time, I was more of a researcher identity. And I had a designer identity that felt like the four core drivers of what made me me. And what I wanted my career to be about, like, I couldn't separate those. And up until that point, I was only hired for one of them at a time. But now that I was discovering people can have multiple identities, but there can be an intersectionality, I discovered I was a hybrid professional, it was this revolutionary term and concept that really helped me finally see myself and empowered me to use all my identities to pitch and promote what value I brought to future employers and different work that I was doing. But the hybrid concept is what unlocked the next step of my career.

Jonathan Collaton:

I like this, there's so so many turns in there being someone who worked at a university or works at a university, where i'm like, Oh, yeah, like, I used to run a living learning community as well. Yeah. And then we talk about intersectionality all the time, and in the context of like, students, are students, but they're also students from their, you know, from first generation families, or they're from the LGBTQ community. And all these things impact the fact that they are students, they're not just students. And so we talk about this all the time in the context of how it impacts students, and I work with student leaders. So for me, it's on top of all those other things, they're trying to run a club, or they're trying to run our orientation week. So there's all those different things that they can be defined by it's, you know, before we started recording, I was saying that I've written med school references for students, but I have no knowledge of their medical expertise of their academic studies. I'm talking about all the other things they're good at, because that's there. It's valuable as a doctor to have these other skill sets. So I totally get what you're talking about here. And knowing that you It seems like put a lot of time and energy into determining what those you said, it sounds like four components of what really made you you and made you know what you wanted to do or what your career wanted to be about. How do you then go and pick like a job because you've got to find something that fits many, or all of those different things that you're interested in? And speaking to all these different entrepreneurs, did that get you in the mindset of like, I should build something for myself?

Sarabeth Berk:

Yeah, at that point, I still didn't have the self confidence that I want it to be or could ever be an entrepreneur, I didn't see myself starting and launching a business. But I had the notion of myself as an innovator. And I was finally coming into that side that I want to transform education by innovating with new ideas and new models. How do I get in touch with that kind of opportunity and career path, and there is no linear door to get there. Anybody that does education, innovation, there's a lot of different ways you can come in. So it's not obvious. So I was just at that beginning stage of understanding there are hybrid jobs that exist. I didn't have that language at the time, but I was feeling it. So I knew my next position needed to be multifaceted, and it needed to accept and realize I was multifaceted. I have these multiple identities as well. It had to have both components. They needed it, and I had it, instead of what I had looked for in the past was a job that was more compartmentalised more about singularity more about, we just need you to do this one thing, be a researcher, be an artist be a teacher. So the job I got next, was running a grant at Denver Public Schools, which is our largest urban school district in the state. It was in their central administration, and I was doing peer to peer learning. But very quickly, if you know anything about administration in these big school districts, they reorg all the time. So I got hired, and within two months, the team I was on got completely reorganized. It was in the office of school reform and innovation. But it broke into a new department called the innovation lab, and it was named the Imaginarium. So I landed in the innovation office of the biggest school district in the state, and it was getting off the ground. So this was all the things you learn with startups and entrepreneurship is day one, you know, what are our roles? What are responsibilities? What are the values? What are what's our mission? What are we doing? So I was in a team that was going through all the pains and growth and, you know, risk and failure for about two and a half years. And I got to try on a lot of my ability of how do I facilitate innovation, teach people it, apply it in context, get people to think differently? Push on rules and regulations and policies, and demonstrate I can execute at this level. So I was like flourishing. And also, in total chaos, we use the expression, we're building the plane while we fly it all the time.

Jonathan Collaton:

I get the feeling that you probably enjoyed that though.

Sarabeth Berk:

It was good for me, it was really one of the better positions I've had. But ever since then I've just gotten better and better

Jonathan Collaton:

ever, okay, ever since then, which means there's more. So...

Sarabeth Berk:

There's more, there's so much.

Jonathan Collaton:

So how long do you stay in an office like that? I'm gonna go ahead and guess two to three years like all your other transition so far. I nailed I got you figured out now. So two to three years. And some point along there, you decide, okay, I've capped out what I can contribute to this role, or at least what I can get from this role. And so, seeing that, it seems like in many cases, when you've had this happen before you either go back to school, or you have a career crisis. So how do you pick what you're going to do beyond that?

Sarabeth Berk:

Yeah, this time, I don't think I either happened, I didn't go back to school. And it wasn't a crisis. I have learned about myself, I'm one of those people that when I'm in a job, I learned really fast. And I need to uplevel quickly. And if I don't have a manager or leader that recognizes that in me, and gives me more challenges, or gives me more leadership, I have to move on. And I will say I think that's one of the secrets of my career success is by moving every two and a half to three years. Yes, it can look like a job hopper. But I can explain that when I'm in interviews. But it's also raised my salary substantially in a faster amount of time, it's given me more leadership and a faster amount of time. So it's been strategic. What happened next is there was a role for an innovation and entrepreneurship director at the University of Colorado Boulder. So this took me into the university level. And they started by hiring two assistant directors. So the other assistant director had a deep background in entrepreneurship, which makes sense, right? They needed that angle. But what I brought to the table was a lot of innovation and design thinking skills. So the two of us were a perfect match. I like I said, I never studied entrepreneurship, it really wasn't my backbone, he quickly decided to move on. He was there for a few months. So I became the main director. And I flourished. What I realized is the role was really about ecosystem building. That's a term that I think startups use a lot, but it's kind of becoming more popular. And ecosystems are about networking and building connection and catalyzing energy across diverse stakeholders, helping them see resources and share information and talent and funding, and making ideas take off faster, and with more support. And that's what I did really well at CU Boulder, I had to build this brand, I had to communicate its awareness, I had to get a lot of buy in, I had to work with students, faculty, staff, community stakeholders, leadership. And I was able to put this puzzle together with a ton of collaboration. But because of my creative background, because of my ability to think and systems and to think and hybridity and interdisciplinarity, and I just quickly learned the sort of stages and mindsets of entrepreneurs. And I could teach that in ways that translated to people that were not entrepreneurs, I was really successful in this role, I just built a lot of a lot of support and trust and experience really fast.

Jonathan Collaton:

I'm wondering if you find the same thing in the US at the universities, we definitely see it in southern Ontario, where a role like that would be so valuable, because often the university, the staff are working in very siloed areas, because you've got the academic side, and like each faculty and in some cases, each professor has their own specific thing that they really care about. And it's not that they actively don't care or dislike something else. But they're they're an expert in what they do. So all their time and energy is going to go into what they do. And then you get all these other departments that sort of end up working on their own, because that's what everyone else seems to be doing. And so we certainly have this vibe or I've seen it or can you two universities have these siloed roles? Is that something you had to kind of navigate?

Sarabeth Berk:

Absolutely, yes. 100% that was the biggest thing. I started with a team of five we call them co conspirators that represented key faculty and staff that believed that innovation was core to the future of the university. And by the time I left after about three years, I had that group increased to 40 different people because we built such great relationships with the engineering team, the law school, people in the liberal arts, sociology computer pewter science, we recognize that all these voices at the table mattered, it had to be inclusive, and innovation look different for all these different parts of the university. And that was fine. We didn't need one kind of innovation. What we needed was to represent the voices and stories of the collective. And that's where I fit in, I embraced the bigger picture of all of these different little, you know, sparks of innovation and creativity and entrepreneurship around the university, and wrapped them into the picture of this is what CU Boulder represents. And this is how innovative we are. And that storyline had never been told people never saw it as a big idea like that.

Jonathan Collaton:

Yeah, it's funny, you say storyline, because something that we're seeing a lot of in Canada, is communications departments, hiring people that they refer to now as storytellers, because what they're trying to do is get across what the university is trying to do. And it's not just, it's not just marketing anymore, like they want to, they want really people to have a better understanding of everything that's going on, instead of like, a bunch of flashy colors, and like, here's a sweater with our logo and, you know, come to this university. So yeah, it's definitely something something we're seeing. So you the last job you you had before you went into this one, you said it was there wasn't that crisis, you just you knew what you want to do. And you found this role that really fit perfectly. And as you just talked about, like you flourished in it, it was the perfect role for you. But then again, we come to two to three years down the line, and you want to move on again. And so was that another case of you've reached, you've done as much as you can do in terms of giving that department the structure, it was going to need to flourish after you left and you wanted a new challenge.

Sarabeth Berk:

Yeah, so the reason I moved on from CU Boulder, because I it was the first time where I could see this as a 10 year effort of shifting the culture and building the university into this innovation, mission and vision. But I was doing it so well. And I had gotten so much traction in the community and built such a big network that people outside the university saw me and they saw my talent. So I actually got recruited from my role at CU Boulder, and local foundation that was focused on early childhood and solving the greatest challenges that are being faced by underserved kids and families. They wanted me they wanted me to build an ecosystem, similar to how I did it for the university. But this time across the state of Colorado, connecting educators, childcare providers, funders, researchers, politicians, a whole gamut of people invested in early childhood, but that weren't working together. So that role is a project called future bound. And we were really trying to become something special and unique. That wasn't happening anywhere else in the country. There isn't a lot of focus or as much funding in the early childhood space. So we were trying to raise this issue, it's gotten a lot more attention now with COVID, because so many kids have been staying at home and childcare has been shut down. Right, right. But really finding that those intersections, connections and radical exchange of ideas and resources was too siloed in that space. So future bound was about breaking all that down and building stronger ideas together and solutions. And that's the last role I just had. And the reason I moved on from that was a little bit of leadership transition that came into the foundation and had a new vision for what the foundation was going to do and future bound, had a different priority. And so that was my departure. So I have been in a very new space of reinventing now what Who am I? And hybridity has really become my thread. I own it now. And not only that, I'm sharing this as a larger movement that I think more people need to understand hybridity is a value add, and that you don't just have to be an expert in a generalist. So concurrent, actually, ever since I finished my doctorate remember, I wrote that dissertation, and it was about my professional identity. I knew I wanted to polish that into something that was more mainstream and other people would read, it won't just be a dissertation in a directory somewhere. And so I published my book in April of 2020, about being more than my title, the power of hybrid professionals and a workforce of experts and generalists. And I got the confidence to start sharing this because I had been talking to more people while I networked at CU and saw their hybridity and saw how they were miserable in their job, didn't know what their identities were didn't know they could be multifaceted. And when I revealed this hybrid concept, they had ah-ha's and they were like, how has nobody shared this. This is the tool that I needed to know about myself because I can see how my strengths fit together. So this is partially what I've been working on the last eight months now is how do I share that there's three types of professional In the workforce, I call it singularity multiplicity and hybridity. Traditionally, Singularity is experts, you have one identity. multiplicity is many that can be polymaths, jack and jill of all trades, gig workers, freelancers. But multiplicity means those identities aren't being used together, there's no connection. And hybridity is the part of the spectrum where things overlap. You work at the intersections of many identities and combine them into something new. And what do you call yourself at the intersection of your multiple identities? So I've branded and named my hybrid identity, creative disrupter, that's partially how I introduce myself. When I have a full time job, I'm like, I'm Sarah Beth, I'm the director of future bound. And I'm a creative disrupter because I blend being an artist and research and designer. And that's how I transform systems. And I have a little speech. But this has been really groundbreaking. And obviously, with COVID, the timing is ironic, because we are in a hybrid world, I have seen the word hybrid use more about hybrid learning, hybrid events, hybrid work hybrid this, but people aren't talking about hybrid professionals, hybrid workers. So the identity piece, I think, is super big right now. And this is the future of work. If you don't know how to talk about your different identities, and talk about how they fit together, then people don't understand what you do. You still are just a lot of different parts to them.

Jonathan Collaton:

Yeah, no, I totally agree. And it's, it's something that I'm kind of trying to figure out on my own right now. Because I'm a guy who works at a university and I work primarily with students on their level of programming. But if in the same way that you know, you, your label before was our teacher, people look at me and probably just think like, oh, the the clubs guy, but I'm dealing with like policy issues that the university has between these student groups, we're dealing with a lot of conflict between the different members of the clubs. And so I'm trying to figure out right now, how do I advertise myself in a different way, if I want to make a switch to something else, because I've kind of hit a point where I'm looking at what's the next stage in my career, and maybe it's still within the university, maybe it's not. But the idea of being more than just that my job title is so relevant to me right now. And so I'm part of this, this podcast existing was me trying to like talk it out with other people. And I've referred to it a couple of times, I was like, This is my therapy session, and other people just get to listen in on it. And so I just get to hear all these different perspectives on how people view their own career path and how they view what it is that they do. And so this career, hybridity is super fascinating to me. So are you primarily focused like now that the book is is written? What do you do kind of on a day to day basis, other than like talking to people like meetup promote this awesome book that you have? What other stuff for you as a creative disrupter, if I think that's what you said, What are you doing as a creative disrupter day to day?

Sarabeth Berk:

Yeah, a lot of things. I feel super busy right now, I, to put it in its simplest terms. I am a hybrid professional, who works in hybrid jobs. But who also does thought leadership and studies and writes about hybrid professionals. So those are the two sides of myself. So on one side, I am looking for contract work and applying to full time roles that look like they're a fit for my hybrid identity, and need someone who's a creative disrupter to bring that talent into their world. But on the other side, I've been doing a lot of mentoring, coaching, speaking engagements to help spread this idea. I talk about it with people that are just graduating college and how they have pre professional identity, you kind of mentioned their intersectionality, because students have majors and minors and clubs and leadership things and they don't know how to put that together in a package. And I coached them a little bit. I talked to a lot of people in career transition, because they don't know how to see themselves. I mean, literally think of it this way, when people ask you, what do you do? How do you answer that question? And there's a few types of ways people answer it, they either give a job title, or they start listing a lot of things they do, or they might deflect and they might turn it back to you because they don't know how to answer. And the people that lists a lot of things tend to fall into a trap, where they tell you too many things or they just sound like a list of different things they do. And they don't even always use identities. So for instance, someone will tell me I do event planning and some photography and a little graphic design, but I really hate you know, managing my own books and doing the business development side and I'm like, Whoa, stop you and this goes this is the universal you, you have to know your primary professional identities. And I I separate these into two categories your primary, non primary So obviously, I'm more than just an artist, educator, you know, designer, I can do a lot of different things. But which ones Am I using every day, because I love them, they light me up, they bring me the most joy. These are the identities I want to be known for. You have to know those the other identities, of course, they're important to you, but you use them once in a while, they're not your day to day identities. So you have to brainstorm a list and then narrow it down and find your two, three, or four, because four is the limit, you can't really juggle more than that at once. And those two, three or four are your primary. So you should be able to tell people that pretty succinctly. And then if you do think you're a hybrid professional, I say, draw a Venn diagram and put these identities in different circles and start looking at the intersection Who am I, when I'm the artist, designer, the artist, researcher, the artist, researcher, educator, and you the best way to unpack this, because it's really, a lot of this question is unconscious, people haven't reflected this way before. So the best way to start is with feelings, reflect on what you do in your work when you feel the best. Because when you are in your zone, and things are flowing, and effortless, you're in a hybrid space, and you don't see it. So I started noticing I would run meetings and have people do role plays. And I'd be doing graphic facilitation. And this was not normal practice in a meeting. But that's how I would do it because I got more answers and ideas going. And I was like, Whoa, what am I doing right? That and when I'm facilitating that way, while I'm using research, because I'm collecting information, there's a creativity aspect. There's a designer aspect. Whoa, that's my hybridity. So what am I doing, and I started realizing I'm challenging things and disrupting, etc. And so I arrived at the term creative disrupter, because those were themes and key words that existed when my identities were firing at the same time. So I go through this process with people because I think we typically talk about work into levels, we talk about what's your passion, and what's your purpose, go follow that, go find that and you will have your dream job. And I think that's true, except there's an important part of that missing, which is identity. Who are you? What do you call yourself when you're following your passion and your purpose, if you don't know your identity, then you can help the world understand who you are and how you want to be seen. So the power of this work to is you get to name yourself, professional identity isn't just assigned to you, because you have the title program coordinator, you get to know and then tell the world who you are. And that actually changes the conversation. So when people are looking for work, and myself included in your LinkedIn header, you know, what kind of terminology are you using? Are you a leader, Coach marketer, salesperson, well, 1000 other people have those terms to what's your differentiator? What is the unique way you can define and give yourself a title. And then your brand, which is also important, your personal brand, is the promise of what that title means it's how you define being a creative disrupter in my case. So that's what I think about on a daily basis. That's some of the work I'm up to right now.

Jonathan Collaton:

All right, so clearly, a lot going on in your in your brain, right now, you get a lot of things that that you're trying to, and I'm almost I was gonna say nailed down. But like the point is, don't nail anything down, like you are multiple things. And so you've got all that going on. You're excited for any future amazing opportunities that might come your way too. And so I'm going to get the link from you where people can find your book and any other social media info you want to put we'll put it down in the show notes. So if you're listening to this and you want to follow along...

Sarabeth Berk:

More Than My Title

Jonathan Collaton:

More Than my Title, perfect more than my title, we will put the link down below Sarabeth. Thanks so much for sharing that whole journey today. I think we covered six different states, five universities, countless jobs, I don't know, I thought in my head before this, I felt like ski instructor was gonna be a huge part of it. And now is just a little blip at the beginning. So there's a lot of different things to talk about. But it was really was really valuable. I think, for everyone who listens,

Sarabeth Berk:

thank you. I don't get to often share my background with as much depth and detail. So thanks for being such a great audience and listener and those questions about, you know, revealing these turn key moments that were pivotal. I just enjoyed expressing it. So thank you.

Jonathan Collaton:

All right. So that is Sarahbeth's career path. Moving around the United States, trying at different schools, trying out different jobs, and eventually finding a new way to define who she is. Now that we're all caught up on her story, what can we learn from Sarabeth? Lesson one, sometimes you have to turn back when a better opportunity presents itself. Think about all the different pivots. Sarabeth made the time she changed what her plan was. Starting in undergrad, she switched schools and went from Fort Collins to Chicago. Then a few years later, she had deferred a master's program. But before she started it, she realized a different program was going to be a better fit, and she switched to that master's program. Then a few years later, she took a job in Seattle, and three weeks in realized it wasn't the right fit. And there was a better opportunity in San Diego. And she jumped at that. Then a few years after that she rescinded the job offer in San Francisco a week after saying yes, switched her PhD to Denver, move there and started working at the university there. And this is where it all comes down to how you view things. Because I'm sure there are some people that if given a list like that would say, oh, that person is indecisive. But having heard Sarah Beth's whole story, I don't see that at all. I see her as being bold, she has no time for taking too long to do things to find out, they're not the right fit. If she feels like something is better for her, she's gonna go for it right away. And I think that's contributed a lot to the success that she's had. How many of us have stayed in a job too long, or a relationship too long or, or not jumped at a good opportunity? Because we were scared? I'm sure the answer is a lot of us. But look at Sarahbeth, and look at all the times she jumped and look at where it got her. So maybe next time, you're presented with an opportunity to take a leap like that. Maybe you jump. Lesson number two, career success will look different to different people. So think about all those different transitions and jumps that I just mentioned. Now, from my point of view, the fact that Sara Beth has had all of these different opportunities to go between means she's been very successful. But she mentioned that when she was about 30. And in grad school, again, she felt embarrassed because that was how she was defining herself. But people asked what she did. She said, I'm a grad student, and she didn't like that. But if she hadn't said that, I would never have known that she felt anything other than like she was doing what she should be doing. And reflecting on it. Now, obviously what she did was the right decision and going back to school at that time. But I think the important takeaway here is that what you see on the outside can look like success. But how that person feels isn't always successful. And I think that's incredibly important to remember, particularly in the world of today, because everyone is online, sharing all their successes, but no one's talking about the times that things didn't go their way or they didn't feel confident in what they were doing. And Sarahbeth can reflect back on that now. But I don't know if she would have admitted that at the time. Because a lot of us probably wouldn't admit that at the time. So if you're looking at all these people around you, and you think that they're super successful, know that they probably have some of the same hesitations and insecurities that you might feel. And if that's the case, what's stopping you from being as successful as them. So those are some of the things I learned from Sarabeth, but I've definitely still got more to learn. I love the concept of career hybridity, so I'm trying to track down a copy of her book more than my title so I can give it a read. I also found out that she has a companion workbook that you can use to help figure out what your different identities are and how they fit together. I'm gonna put a link in the show notes to her website, we can find a copy of her book, and I also encourage you to go check out her Instagram at more than my title, because she posts about things like free masterclasses and places where she'll be speaking, which I think is also very cool. That is all for this week. So I will catch up with you again next Wednesday. If you enjoyed this episode and want a reminder when the next episode comes out, go and sign up to my mailing list on career crossword podcast .com or subscribe on your favorite podcast player. If you really enjoyed this show, do me a favor and share it with a friend or give it a review on Apple podcasts or Podchaser. Now normally this is the part of the episode right before I wrap up where I give you a little bit of a teaser about what next week's episode is gonna be like. However, I have not recorded that episode yet. So come back next week. I can tell you that I'm talking to Scott from New York. But everything else will be a mystery to us all. See you next week.