Late Career Challenges
Late-stage career periods do not need to be periods of remote inactivity. They can be as invigorating as early-stage periods. The challenge is that it’s incumbent on you to identify what can so vivify you during this time.
Careers go by quickly. When you begin your career, you are usually unaware that the work will soon become a “career.” Most research administrators don’t attend college with the expectation of spending 40 years in this field (yet). However, when a job becomes a career, you settle into a comfortable groove. Suddenly, thirty years have passed, and you begin looking down the parallax. As you enter your late-stage career, what does the horizon promise beyond a bright retirement at the end of the rainbow?
The challenge of late-stage careers is motivation. As you age, it is natural to want to slow the pace down, not rock the boat, and ultimately not challenge the status quo. However, is this in your best interest? In order to remain engaged, engaging in new experiences is important. Ask yourself: are you bored in your current position? Is it too familiar and too comfortable? Are there few challenges? Are you merely there for a paycheck and are counting the days toward retirement? Are you making a difference?
Late-stage careers don’t need to be monotone. The question you should be asking yourself is: is this what you want to be doing for the last tier of your career? What is stopping you from applying to another position? Fear is the most likely factor. (i.e., why rock the boat?) However, the most engaging time can be when making new discoveries and identifying new ways of making a difference. Beyond taking that next/final step up the career ladder, there are other means of engagement. Extracurricular activities! Join a campus or professional committee (SRAI has plenty of room for you!). Maybe take a class or obtain a certificate. (CRA anyone?) Start a study group among peers. Identify a mentoring program and offer your services to mentor junior research administrators. SRAI’s Odyssey program welcomes your mentorship skills. Or, if feeling motivated, look into teaching a course(s) on research administration at your local campus.
Late-stage career periods do not need to be periods of remote inactivity. They can be as invigorating as early-stage periods. It is incumbent on you to identify the challenges that can so vivify you during this time.
Authored by Mark Lucas, Chief Administrative Officer
UCLA Departments of Neurobiology & Computational Medicine
SRAI Catalyst Committee Member