From Chemical Engineer to All Girls School Faculty
Mr. Anthony Spadafore
Dear Anthony —
It occurred to me the other day that I never reconnected with you about the work I ended up doing following my career testing and subsequent phone consultation with you back in 2004.
Back in 2002, I was in Northern Ireland working for Habitat for Humanity as a New Project/Program Development Manager. I had made the leap to Habitat after 13 years of chemical engineering in the paper industry and after five years with Habitat overseas, I was ready to come home. I took the testing shortly after I moved back to the states in mid 2004.
In short, the book, the insight from the [career] testing, and my conversation with you basically changed my life. I had already made a huge leap (ie. an emotional, mental, and financial leap) from engineering to Habitat but I wasn’t sure where to head after that. Habitat was meant to be a temporary gig despite the fact that I stayed two years past my three year contract. At that time, I looked to my work with the book and my conversation with you in 2004 as my compass for where I needed to head next.
My talent profile showed high Feeling, split down the middle on Intuitive/Sensing, and split down the middle on Tribal/Maestro [a rare combination of traits]. We talked a lot about my desire to work with people, helping to empower them and move them from survival mode into self-development. In other words, working with them during a point of transition and possibly helping them begin to help others once they had helped themselves. We discussed mentoring, coaching, and the need for both front line connection with people as well as a desire to be a manager/organizer. We also talked about my need to infuse humor, entertainment, and all parts of my life’s experiences into my work.
Using that conversation and all of my notes from my work with the book, I found that I had a new filter by which to look at job descriptions. I could tell right away, with confidence, whether a job was right for me and/or worth exploring. As I looked for a job during that next year, I managed to convince my former employer in engineering that they needed me in a temporary consulting role at one of their plants close to where I was living — this afforded me the time and means to be more intentional about my search.
In late 2004, a college friend working at a girls boarding high school in Troy, NY called me and invited me up to consider the possibility of working at the school as a science teacher. I knew that a formal teaching setting didn’t quite fit my preferred working environment but I decided to visit anyway because of the attraction of working with young people. While I was there, I met several people in the Residential Faculty department and I knew without a doubt, after hearing them describe what they did, that I had just found “my path” — the job that I was made to do.
I’ve been here seven years working as a residential faculty member and I still look forward to going to work each day. I’m basically “parenting” 25 fourteen-year-old girls for nine months out of the year — mentoring them, helping them transition from new freshman survival mode to fully functioning, active, empowered soon-to-be sophomores. I’ve implemented a number of programs in the dorms to guide them through the various stages of development and I work with them daily through all sorts of crisis situations.
I also mentor 6 – 10 student leaders, empowering them to be effective leaders in the areas or residential life, community service, and various clubs. I use a lot of humor and entertainment in my work and I use EVERY part of my previous life’s experience to engage them, connect with them, and mentor them. I love these girls as if they were my own and I love seeing them go from scared, unsure young freshmen to confident, mature young women by the time they graduate.
I recently decided to listen to the CD of our conversation again (I haven’t listened to it in 7 – 8 years) to see if what we talked about came anywhere near what I ended up doing. I was floored by how much everything we talked about ended up in the work I’ve been doing. It’s amazing how when you follow the right path, things tend to fall into place. I don’t make a lot of money but I’ve got a great apt. in the dorms and I have three meals a day for 10 months out of the year — all of which comes as part of the job. My job even gives me the time (five weeks during school vacations and summers off) to be outdoors in the woods hiking or kayaking- stuff I love to do.
[BTW] I couple of years ago, I was finally able to buy a cabin in the Adirondack Mts in upstate New York — I’m off the grid, using gas lamps for light, a wood stove for heat, and loving it. I get up there whenever I can and live up there during the summer. Since I don’t pay for rent, utilities, or meals at the school, I was able to afford to purchase this cabin in the woods — something that I’ve dreamed about doing my whole life!
I can’t thank you enough, eight years on, for the conversation we had and the coaching you gave me. I’m doing exactly what I should be doing — I’m loving it, I’m good at it, I’ve got a balance of everything I need, and I can’t imagine doing anything else right now.
Much of what I’ve done these past seven years has been work that I’ve built and put together based on my own passions. I love service so I develop an extensive community service program at the school. We have an extremely diverse student population in the dorms and I saw a need for cultural diversity programming so I developed it. I’m not only in a core job that I love but I continue to shape it into more of what I love.
Thank you again for your integral part in helping me find my path — keep doing the good work that you do!