It turns out that deciding to retire from a job is a very different thing from actually doing it. No matter that you know it’s time to move on. No matter that you’re ready for something new. Those last couple of months before you’re gone carry a number of shocks.
As a university professor, I expect to miss the interactions with colleagues. I know I’ll miss getting to know and advise each new group of students. What I didn’t expect were the assumptions my ego made about influencing the future — until this last month exposed them to me.
This was my dream job 13 years ago. I came to a university with no marketing program and got to develop one — exactly as I thought best for the students. I was able to select the courses I thought students needed to succeed — and then teach them. I got to decide what should be in each course, how to grade it, what exercises and assignments would be most beneficial to my students. For a control freak, it was heaven! I thought I was building something for the program — something that would last.
Planning your death?
The first shock to my system was helping hire my replacement. It felt like I was planning my death(!) Like I’d signed up for euthanasia, but first I had to tidy things up and get my replacement ready. And, for university professors, this is a long, drawn out process. You give notice in September — for a retirement the following summer.
Ah, but that was a tiny shock compared to the ones to come.
My background is launching businesses. And when you set up systems, profit centers, etc. — they all last for the business. When someone new joins the business, they build on what foundation you’ve established. Not so much in teaching. At least, not so much with what was most important to me in the job.
What meant the most to me in the job
Students graduating with a bachelors in marketing — who don’t plan to get an MBA — have one heck of a time getting a job. All (really 99.99%!) entry level marketing jobs require one year’s experience(!) So I set up the required projects in my classes to give my students just that — resumes that contain more than a year’s worth of real-world marketing experience. Examples of resume entries for my graduates:
- Created a marketing blog for a client
- Created a Pinterest marketing campaign for a client
- Created a Twitter marketing campaign for a client
- Created 3 marketing videos for a client
- Created a marketing plan for a client
- Created and conducted focus group research for a client
- Created and conducted eye-tracking marketing research for a client
- Certified in Google AdWords
- Certified in Google Analytics
So when we brought three prospective replacements for my position to campus, I took each to dinner. I talked in depth with each about making sure our marketing students have a resume that can actually get them that hard-to-get entry level job. I was satisfied to have done all I could to protect our future students.
Letting go of “control” illusions
But… the search failed and we didn’t hire any of them. The school will be fine in the Fall, and will conduct a new search for Spring 2021 and going forward. But… I won’t be involved.
So I have to let go. And trust that whomever they get will care just as much in his/her own way as I do. Which s/he probably will. It’s just completely out of my control. And that’s the part that’s so emotionally difficult!