How they got here: Career paths don’t always go as planned

holly2Professor Holly Hedberg teaches English 106 and also works as a DMACC Student Advisor. Hedberg graduated with her masters in May of 2011, and got hired at DMACC a couple of months after that.
Hedberg was also teaching at Grand View University at the same time as trying to get contracts with different schools.
“It’s interesting how I realized how much I really like DMACC; I like the institute here and the community college structure as well. I think it’s integral to the community, to people obtaining their goals and so that is one of my goals…is being involved in an institute that there to help people realize their dreams; realize what they want to do,” says Hedberg.
As Hedberg explains, “Whether it’s to obtain a two year degree, a diploma, a certificate or to go on to a four year institute, or getting technical training that’s going to help them in a career they already have.” Hedberg thinks that it is “cool” to have a one-stop shop in that sense; something that can be for anybody.
In terms of teaching and being an instructor, Hedberg had always been interested in teaching at college level; higher education. As she progressed through school and working on her masters, it became a common theme for her to be an adjunct instructor.
Hedberg has been teaching for a couple of years and started becoming a little more interested in the administrative side of things. That’s what encouraged her to pursue the higher education; the Doctoral program that she is in now because of community college.
Hedberg enjoys the institute of college and the ideals about it. It led her to teach as well as to pursue other areas of academia.
Hedberg explains that her goal wasn’t what she started out doing, “It progressed to it and I always thought I’d like to be a professor.” She thought of being in a bigger institution and to teach literature.
Hedberg actually began teaching in the community college arena, she started really liking the idea of working with students rather than just teaching them.
In the beginning, when Hedberg was an undergrad studying English, she felt that she would be a “writer.” She ended up not going to the creative writing aspect and went to literature because she always liked to read a lot as well as liking to write critical analysis on famous works.
Hedberg always thought that teaching was something she would really enjoy at the college level. She still doesn’t know what she wants to do yet, but is still working on that. As well as finishing the doctoral program is for her right now.
Hoping for the experience, a lot comes from “once you’re in, you sort of start to see what other things there are,” says Hedberg. As she explains, it never occurred to her before that she wanted to be an Academic Advisor.
When Hedberg was in class and researching advising as a retention tool for students, she started thinking, “That’s what I want to do, I want to do that!” She continued, “Teaching will always be there for me, teaching at least one class, but my goal is to move more towards Student Services.”
Hedberg hasn’t really reached her goal yet, but her goal is to finish her studies and to find an institute to work at full time. Right now, Hedberg don’t work full time here at DMACC, but as an adjunct she is only allotted fifteen credits per year and summer doesn’t count.
Hedberg is very limited on how much she can make and Academic Advising is also part-time. So, her goal immediately is to find a full-time position somewhere she can stay so she can really engage with the campus.
“But honestly, I do like DMACC a lot better because they give us a lot of autonomy. DMACC allows us to choose our own textbooks if we want, or be creative with our syllabus, and no one really breathing down our neck. It’s kind of nice because we can be ourselves in the classroom, I like it to more organic and not like “do this do this do this. I want a marketplace of ideas and expressions and opinions and things like that,” says Hedberg.
Hedberg also explains, “The funnest part about teaching is that I teach the class no one wants to take. Nobody wants to take Comp II or Comp I, but we all have to so I have to be cool and relaxed, and integrade on fun stuff or it’s just going to fall flat; terrible.”
Hedberg can use the things she had learned to get involved in different programs and different committees. Where she can be rooted in an institute, this is more of her main focus for her long term goal.
Hedberg has no idea where she will end up or what she will be doing.

paulbyrdPaul Byrd is a professor in political science at DMACC, but his degree is in history and political science. He loves teaching and discovered it in an unusual way.
Byrd started in history and that’s where he was for three years and the last two years, he has now moved into the political science. “Both bring different challenges, and they bring different students. “Like in history, you never get criminal justice students, so offering both offers a wider range of students,” says Byrd.
Byrd talks about how his goal from the beginning is not at all what he had thought it was going to be. From a kid his dream was to be an astronaut, until a speaker from NASA busted that bubble. He explains about how he first started in his career to what it is now.
“No, being a teacher isn’t where my goal first started at all actually. When I was growing up, particularly my dad believed that you should get a job that would pay. So I decided, ‘What do I like?’ When I was a kid, I wanted to be an Astronaut, thought that was cool; outer space and stuff,” Byrd says.
Byrd then decided to go to school to be an Aerospace Engineer because he had a thing for numbers.
A speaker came to talk to Byrd and other colleagues trying to get them excited about being an engineer, so the person was talking about how she worked for NASA on space shuttles.
“I was like okay, this is what I want to do; this is what I came for,” says Byrd. Then the speaker said, “I organize drawers on a space shuttle.” So then Byrd asked, “You went to school for nine years, just to organize drawers? That is not for me!”
Byrd then asked “What do I like? …I like history and political science” and so he dropped that major [Engineer] in his first year of college, and started in history. Byrd wasn’t sure he was going to be a teacher because he really didn’t like talking in front of people.
When Byrd was in college he did not like talking at all, so he thought he was going to be an archivist working in libraries. Then one year, Byrd’s first year of grad school, the chairman pulled him aside and said, “Hey, you’re the best person for this job, you want a job?”
Byrd turned him down and said, “No, I don’t think I do…but let me go home and think about it for a weekend.” Then his wife, girlfriend at the time, said, “You should probably try it.” Byrd agreed and took the class, he taught and he fell in love.
Byrd explains as his goal now is teaching, “I’m here to teach, I love teaching, and having people say, ‘Oh, I didn’t expect to like this class’ and they love it. I do research and I do write, but I don’t want to publish any books, I just want to teach.”

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