Helping an Idealist Find the Ideal Job
Participating in A New Path, an Executive Education program at Harvard Business School (HBS), empowered civil trial lawyer Wilda White to switch careers and find a new job that satisfies her passion for social justice. As executive director of the Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law, she now leads an organization that helps Berkeley Law students with similar ambitions build fulfilling careers in social justice.
After law school I wanted to pursue a career in social justice. I became a lawyer, earned an MBA, tried other work, and returned to the law—but something was missing. Although I was a successful civil trial lawyer, I no longer understood why I was doing this work. As my fiftieth birthday loomed, I knew that it was time to do what I was put on this earth to do.
At first, I wasn't sure this would be the right program for me. But A New Path turned out to be a tremendously empowering experience—it provided the concrete help that led me to my dream job. I started out with three objectives: to update my business skills, develop a job search strategy, and build a wider network. In addition to achieving those goals, I found that listening to the diverse stories of other women in my group helped me define what I truly wanted to do. As we talked, I gained the courage and confidence to believe I actually could change careers. And exercises like "100 Jobs" teased out what career was speaking loudest to me. Not only was I uplifted by the process, but I also began to believe that everything was possible.
The business modules in A New Path convinced me that I had transferable skills, and gave me the assurance that I could walk into any business and apply the latest knowledge. The program also exposed me to executive coaches. I clicked with one woman in particular who worked with me during and after the program to help narrow the definition of my ideal position. When I found the opening at the Henderson Center, I was amazed to see how well it matched my criteria. I applied and was offered the position.
What I learned in A New Path also helps me perform more effectively day-to-day. I decided how to approach this new role, for instance, by revisiting the readings and notes from the Leadership Style segment. Now that the Henderson Center is in its tenth year, we are realigning our strategy for the next decade—and I am using concepts from the cases we studied. I am also much more skilled at networking, and often call others from my group to try out new ideas or just talk.
If you are at a standstill in your career, I highly recommend A New Path. It's a top-quality classroom experience. Meeting other people who are going through the same process—and hearing the insights of faculty and career counselors—will stimulate your creativity as well as your job search. Most important, this program can help you land your ideal job.