Curriculum Vitae 3
Career Change: A Brief Introduction
Career change! This word holds different fears for different people. It may refer to the terminal position that terminates, to the contract that closes, to the down-sizing that sometimes occurs on an apparently regular basis, to the disappearance of positions and placements ... there are many reasons for job loss and there is a plethora of self-help and professional help guide books to aid the individual when this this type of career change happens.
In fact, career change is a very personal thing and no two experiences of career change are alike. This means that although there are some basic guidelines which may be followed only the individual and the individual's personal counsellors, can arrive at a decision, or decisions, best for that one person. Career change, however, is not limited to job loss only. People can voluntarily change the direction of their work even while remaining in the same place of employment. This type of career change can be even more confusing with such change involving decisions on when to change, how to change, in what direction to change, and what changes are most beneficial both for the individual and for the institution.
Unfortunately, it is said that while my generation held permanent jobs, the generation now entering the work force will change its career half a dozen times, or more, even while working in the same place of employment. Sometimes, it is easier to deal with career change when one is less specialized as there is always room for people who are capable of performing multiple tasks. Often, it is very difficult for the highly specialized to branch out, discover, and be comfortable in new fields of expertise.
In my own specific case, I graduated with a PhD from the University of Toronto in 1975. My doctoral thesis was on Francisco de Quevedo and my field of specialization was Renaissance and Baroque Spanish Love Poetry. My alternative fields of specialization included Golden Age Prose, Poetry, and Theatre, Cervantes, and Twentieth Century Spanish Poetry. For twenty years, between 1975 and 1994, I managed to maintain my specialization, even while not teaching in these specialized areas, and often under the most difficult of research circumstances. In 1994, I started a series of career changes which, for better or for worse, moved me away from my earlier specializations into new fields. On the grounds that what I have experienced during a complicated period of career change may help others to undertake similar adventures, I would like to explore my own changes in direction very briefly.
In 1992, I retired from serious rugby coaching. My career as a rugby coach included 16 years in the National Coaching Certification Program as a Level I and II coach and instructor. It also included attendance at various international and national workshops, coaching the Atlantic Provinces of Canada (1986), two Jeux du Canada Games as New Brunswick coach (1981 and 1985), a series of Maritime Championships, and various other commitments to provincial teams at different levels in the national championships. In 1994, instead of visiting Spain and the Spanish research libraries, I visited the Dominican Republic and began, on behalf of St. Thomas University, to establish relationships with various universities there. My own university joined with the Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra in Santiago de los Caballeros in applying for a CIDA Grant to assist in the development of a more formal relationship, but we were turned down. This particular venture led to my participation in the cross-disciplinary Aquinas Program which our university had just established with a course I designed entitled Developing Society. In this course, I team-taught with a political scientist and an economist and we explored developmental problems in the developing world.
In 1995, I was invited by a neighbouring university, the University of New Brunswick, to join with them in developing a new faculty exchange program with the Centro de Idiomas at the Universidad Benito Juárez de Oaxaca, Oaxaca, Mexico. I cooperated in this exchange program, on behalf of St. Thomas University, offering seminars on teaching second languages to the faculty at the Centro de Idiomas. I also taught classes there (Spanish and English, language and literature) and helped draw up two CIDA Tier 2 applications on behalf of St. Thomas University, UNB and UABJO. The first CIDA Tier 2 grant (1996-97) was for $750,000 and the second (1997-1998) for approximately $1.3 million. Unfortunately, we were again unsuccessful on both occasions.
Tangible and personal benefits that came from my work at UABJO were (1) a video, produced in cooperation with the faculty and students of the Centro de Idiomas, demonstrating my teaching methods (made by Channel 9 TV Oaxaca); (2) Sun and Moon, a book of poems from Oaxaca, which was published in 2000; (3) an interest in and exploration of the Pre-Columbian Mexican Codices; (4) a renewed interest in Surrealist Theory as applied to the poetry of Federico García Lorca and Octavio Paz; and (5) the beginnings of my adventures with digital photography. I worked with UABJO from 1995 to 2001, visiting the Centro de Idiomas on an annual basis.
1996 brought a radical new direction to my life. I was nominated for, and was
awarded, the first ever Excellence in Teaching Award at St. Thomas University.
I also received a Special Merit Award for Scholarship that year, and used the
money ($1500) from this latter award to enrol in the Certificate of
Multi Media Studies at UNB, receiving the Certificate in 1999. This
certificate led to (a) the development of my web page; (b) to the placing online
of an ongoing bibliography of Quevedo criticism; (c) to the
development of Mexico Online, first as a web based course and
then as a course in which web pages were built; (d) to the development of a
major interest in digital photography, which in turn became an interest in video
and film; and (e) to major steps forward in the development of web-based texts,
both creative and academic.
The two awards of 1996 were followed in 1997 with the Atlantic Association of Universities Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award. As a direct result of this, in the winter of 1998, I visited 6 Maritime universities, facilitating discussion groups and lecturing on LOTUS (Learning Opportunities for Tomorrow’s University Students). In 1998, I worked on the Learning and Teaching Development Committee at St. Thomas University and, as Chair of this committee, I organized the Effective Teaching Institute at St. Thomas University in the Spring of 1999, delivering the closing session which dealt with some of the possible uses of Multi-Media in Teaching.
Also in 1999, I organized the 3rd AAU Teaching Showcase at
St. Thomas University and in March 2000 published the Proceedings
/ Actes of that conference, which I edited with Denise Nevo of
Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax. 2000 was an outstanding year for me.
In addition to the Proceedings / Actes, I published
my third and fourth collections of poetry, Sun and Moon
and Though Lovers Be Lost. In July of 2000, I was
awarded a 3M Teaching Fellowship, traveling to the 3M
Retreat at Chateau Montebello in November of 2000.
For six years (2000-2005), I facilitated the AAU Institutional Award Winners Retreat at the annual AAU Teaching Showcase. In 2002, a fifth collection of prose poetry, Fundy Lines, appeared, with a sixth poetry book, At the Edge of Obsidian, coming out in 2005. In addition, there are currently seven chapbooks of poetry circulating, with an eighth and a ninth on the way! 2002 was another good year as my online bibliography of Quevedo criticism started to gain international attention. In addition, in 2002 I took the Digital Film and Video Course at UNB (offered that year by Tony Merzetti) and this launched me into yet another new area of interactive creativity and research. The short film Birthday Suit which I wrote, produced, directed, and edited, won 2nd place for New Brunswick Short Films in the Tidal Wave Film Festival (2003). Birthday Suit is one of the 16 films and / or videos in which I have participated since 2002 either in pre-production, production, or post-production. Incidentally, when not directing or acting, I particularly like working on locations and script editing. During this time, I have also been the consultant for the Province of New Brunswick's Department of Education's Curriculum Development Advisory Committee, which has developed Grades 11 and 12 Spanish on line and in the provincial high school classroom.
At various times I have been the Chair of the Learning and Teaching Development Committee, in which capacity I have worked with young faculty helping them both in the classroom and in their professional development. I have also edited the St. Thomas University teaching magazine, Teaching Perspectives. I am heavily involved with STHLE (the Society for Teacing and Learning in Higher Education) as well as with the 3M Society. In fact, I am now one of the associate editors of the STHLE Green Guides for Teaching and since 2005, I have been working on the preparation and implementation of teaching guides.
What does all this mean in terms of my career? Quite simply, it is time to recognize the fact that I have de facto moved away from specialized academic research in Golden Age Spanish literature. Given my alternate work commitment and a chronic lack of funding, I have not visited the Biblioteca Nacional in Madrid, Spain, or any other Spanish library, save in virtual form, since 1991. On the other hand, my creativity – poems, short stories, multi-media, and now film – has grown in importance and the readings I have done in this area have started to flow into the classroom. I have also developed substantially my work in the scholarship of teaching.
These changes and choices are clearly reflected in recent editions of my curriculum vitae. Having made these somewhat radical changes, it is often hard for me to accept that I have left one part of my life (Francisco de Quevedo and Spanish Golden Age Studies) behind me while embarking on a totally new career in multi-media, creativity, professional development, and the scholarship of teaching. It took me a long, long time to realize that I had in fact, although unconsciously, been making major career changes over the last ten years or so. Now, I no longer apologize for developing my "hobbies"; rather, I have highlighted them at the forefront of my curriculum vitae. What was the shadow side of my life -- creativity, innovation, professional development, and teaching -- has become the showcase for what I do best. The research in seventeenth century Spanish literature, which I once proudly undertook as my major academic area, has become the back up area of my life.
Have I changed jobs? No. Have I made a major and severe career change? Indeed I have. And it has taken me a long, long time to recognize that fact. Quite simply, career change can occur without the necessity of changing place of employment. Yet it does not come about without indecision, doubt, pain, torment, and upheaval. My advice? Check what you are doing, why you are doing it, and look carefully at the future trends within your own abilities, especially your creative abilities. Career change can come upon you overnight; or you can consciously carve a new niche for yourself, a new specialization or a new generalization, in our rapidly changing world.