By Deborah Vieyra
Your career is in full swing, having steadily gained momentum as you have progressed along your professional path. Why on earth would you pause it to tackle a professional fellowship now?
The truth is, while a fellowship may be perceived as a way to put your career trajectory on hold, the reality is quite the opposite. If anything, a fellowship is a way to bolster your efforts at moving forward in your professional life. Deciding to get that application in may transform the rest of your career and lead you to finding new passions that you were unaware you had.
Let’s explore why your decision to tackle a professional fellowship may just be the smartest career move you ever make.
#1 Gain new skills
By this point in your career, you are probably feeling quite comfortable with the repertoire of skills you developed in your early professional life. I hate to be the bearer of bad news for those wanting to rest on their laurels, but that’s just the time to move beyond what you think you are able to do. Whether you would prefer to develop skills in your current field or explore an area beyond your current scope, gaining new skills can explode your ideas of what you thought you were capable of doing. What’s more, new skills may also have other benefits beyond a sense of personal accomplishment. They may prop up your paycheck, open up possibilities for new jobs, or give you the option of applying for a promotion in your current work environment.
#2 Expand your professional network
We all do it — unless we actively seek out new professional contacts, we tend to get comfortable in our circles. Expanding your network will let influences into your life that will either help you in your current work, catalyze new opportunities or allow you to connect with like-minded people. If you travel abroad for your fellowship, you may also have the opportunity to take your network onto the global stage, something that will be beneficial in ways that you cannot even conceive of now.
#3 Enhance your resume
Having a prestigious award on your resume can have all sorts of benefits. If you are seeking new job opportunities, that award might just be the gold nugget that makes you shine above the rest of the competition. If you run your own company, or are seen as an expert in your field, having a professional fellowship on your list of achievements will only serve to boost your credibility.
#4 Get out of your comfort zone
This is the hardest part of committing to a mid-career professional fellowship — and perhaps the most rewarding. Of course, it’s scary to leave a secure job for the promise of the unknown. It’s daunting to know how a fellowship will impact your family life and how easy it will be to slot back into life afterwards. Why not take the bold step? The rewards that you reap on the other end, both in terms of professional and personal development, will make you thank yourself for your bravery.
#5 Have an adventure
Many fellowships require you to travel abroad. Imagine stepping onto a plane, knowing that you are going to spend a year abroad in a foreign place. Would you really prefer to stay at home with your familiar comforts? Through travel and international experiences, you will learn and grow in ways that you never thought possible. You don’t know what you will find on the other side of this adventure — both about yourself and about the world around you.
Take the plunge. You will not regret your decision. A mid-career professional fellowship can be a truly life-changing experience. What will you regret if you don’t make this choice now?
Deborah Vieyra is a Fulbright alumna from South Africa who completed her MA in Applied Theatre Arts at the University of Southern California. She now works as a writer, proofreader and performer in Vancouver, Canada.
© Victoria Johnson 2018, all rights reserved.