What My Career Change Taught Me About Trusting God's Positioning


In May 2017 I started a new career. Breaking from my academic and professional background in marketing, communications, and community engagement, I dove head first into student affairs. I shamed both my degrees and began utilizing my transferable skills in a brand new environment: higher education.

I was excited to begin inspiring change at my institution, for the sake of creating and improving the graduate student experience. I was ready to fully embrace this new professional passion.

I joined Facebook groups, attended local conferences, and participated in discussions with other entry-to-mid-level professionals. None of that, however, equipped me for the way I'd feel in this new role.

After months of hard work, and doing tons of work above my title and experience level - all while thanking God for the ability to dominate and conquer any task put before me - I still felt like I had no idea how to navigate this new space. There were new people to network with, new lingo to adopt, new types of conflict - none of which I was quite sure how to manage.

I knew that I was strategic enough to handle the work; I was well-versed in event planning, strategic development, resource development, and had a certain 'umph' for identifying and resolving high-level problems. But there were things in this new space that I wasn't too sure of. Polices and procedures that, outside of common sense, I wasn't sure were ethical in this new field. Research that I had no idea about, that dramatically impacted the transition from student services to student affairs. Researchers whose work was what many SA offices based their work around, that I was not keen to. A new bureaucracy that I had to figure out - vastly different from the municipal and non-profit bureaucracy I was used to. Things that, when interviewing, I was led to believe my leaders would teach me. Hint: they weren't teaching me a thing. 

Regardless, I carried on everyday putting my best foot forward, and opening myself up to learning new things, and generating creative ideas. I was left to my own devices to be brought up to speed on all things student affairs - including the most common themes and challenges. I had to both identify common trends in this new field, and identify ways to either implement them, sustain them, or modify them to be more effective for our unique student base.

I started by thinking critically about my why, believing that once I figured that out, I could begin teaching myself things that mattered most. I identified why I wanted to, in the long haul, improve student support for students of the African diaspora, not just through academic and social resources, but through holistic approaches to student wellness and success post-grad. I wanted to provide minority students with access to resources and opportunities from the minute they accepted admittance, to the minute the accepted their degree. I held onto that why for dear life, constantly reflecting on it through every stage of this new process. But despite my thirst for learning, and my big ideas, I often found myself questioning how I'd get there. How would I one day make it in this big space, to my dream position, without any educational background or real professional footing? 

That question still replays in my head from time-to-time.

Being in a completely new career field than the one I was academically and professional prepped for, I've been grappling with the reality of not knowing how to position myself in this new space. I've been struggling with feeling unqualified to serve in the positions I desire most. I've been wrestling with whether or not I will ever be a thought leader in a space I hadn't ever imagined being in. I've been wondering if the work, without the research, would be enough to sustain myself professionally, as I attempt to climb the ranks. Am I enough for this new field, or will I, at some point, find myself way over my head? 

As I've been whispering these questions to myself silently, God has been responding to them - loudly. In this season of transition (in more ways than one), God has been calling me to trust His positioning.

See, when I started this job, I had no prior experience in the field. I applied to the position on a whim, because I was fed up with where I was. Upon starting my last position, I knew the route I wanted to take was student affairs. I was, at the time, working with alums, and knew that their engagement as alums, relied heavily on their time as students. I wanted to make the student experience so impactful, that as they transitioned to the working world, they'd always remember the institution that served them for however many years. So when this coordinator position popped up, I jumped at it. Though I had no experience in the work, I got the job; and since starting, I've been working my butt off to prove myself worthy enough to be there. I hit the ground running and have gotten experience in my first few months, that some people in similar positions may never get. I wasn't upset at the workload, I was invigorated. I wanted to do more. I wanted to grow more. 

It's not until I recall these moments - moments where I have flourished beyond my own belief, in a field I had no prior experience in, recommending, creating, and implementing dynamic new programs and resources - that I find myself most affirmed in my ability to go further in this industry. It's in recognizing God's strategy, that I realize that this position - and the people I work for - isn't by happenstance. It's God's reminder to me, that I am equipped, and that I can do it. It's only in understanding the pressure placed on me and successfully thriving through it, that I truly realize the unique calling I have to do this work.

In between battling myself about my ability, and speaking with God about my position, there were a few things I needed to know to navigate myself with confidence. I had to recognize that, regardless of my educational and/or professional background, what I may think of my ability to serve in this new field, and the networks I do or do not yet have, God's plan will make room for me. That, whether I have the credentials or not, God's will will manifest. That, whether I feel adequately prepared or not, God's way will always reign supreme. That, no matter how many questions I ask myself about this new professional pursuit, God will always take me to the place that is meant for me.  And that's something that impostor syndrome can never take.

My position in this space has nothing to do with my qualifications but my calling. And, regardless of what job descriptions say, I will always be granted the opportunity to serve in the place God has called me to. The thoughts that infiltrate my mind are irrelevant to the moves God is making in my life, professionally and in every other area. And for as long as I say 'yes' to Him, He will always put me in places that allow me to tap into my true power.

God wanted to remind me that His positioning is what matters most in this - and any - space. That any place He puts me, is a place worth being. And that I need nothing else but obedience to get there.

This reminder is all I needed to recognize that me forging my space in this new field is God's work. It provided me with a confirmation I needed to revisit, that I am exactly where I ought to be. It gave me an assurance that no matter what I may endure here, I am equipped to handle it. And it settled me with a Christ-like peace knowing that whatever space God has planned for me next is already mine.

So to you, an outsider to wherever you may be right now...To you, who feels unqualified and undeserving...To you, standing at the crossroad of uncertainty and self-proclaimed incompetence...To you, in a very new space, unsure if you'll make it, I want you to know that you will. I want you to remember that God has strategically placed you there, and has purposefully equipped you for that place. I want you to identify God's calling for your life, and never forget that He will bring it to fruition. And I want you to know that y
ou are not an impostor, you are positioned.

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