Anna contacted me one day and wrote:
I’ve been studying/researching/excavating in the field of archaeology for ten years now and would like to change. However, I think I need some help in defining which positions I should apply to ‘in the real world.’
What she meant by “real world”: Everyone in her family was a lawyer. She said, “…and I’m only playing with mud after all.” To her, a “real job” was a 9-5 office job and since everyone in her family had such a job, she felt like the odd one out.
We found out that archaeology is her passion, though. We found out that she’s really REALLY good at it! We noticed that she would suffocate if she really had to sit in an office all day.
We unraveled all the stories she was telling herself about herself, and noticed that she was the very person, who made her feel inferior (“I’m only playing with mud.”). She noticed that her family didn’t think less of her, just because she had decided to take a different path.
We built her confidence and really focused one her short- and long-term vision. Short-term: find a PhD position. Long-term: to be a highly regarded and sought after archaeologist.
Finding a PhD, especially in specialization she had chosen, was not easy, according to her. I asked her what it would be like if the universities would fight for her, wanting her to do her PhD with them? That seemed very unlikely to her back then. So we just focused on strategically building her network, always keeping in mind her short- and long-term goals.
We worked together for a year, during which she was asked to speak at a conference and contribute a chapter to a book on excavation management. Then she moved countries, to live in proximity to all the important happenings in her field.
A year after she had moved, she wrote to me:
… A few weeks back I finally heard the director of a university say it: “If you would like to take your experience and network here, we would be delighted to have you as a PhD student this coming fall semester”
Can you believe it???? It’s all like you tried to tell me so many times: I was not wasting time or just walking around aimlessly, I was building experience and a network that impressed these people enough to make them want me!!!
I can’t wait for the rest of my life!!!!!”