Reflections on Entering a Grad Program in Order to Switch Professional Fields

Photo of Caitlin Hayles

A blog post by SOLES MA in Higher Education Leadership Student Ambassador Caitlin Hayles

Sometimes taking a leap can be scary. When I did it, I was mostly excited but I definitely had my fair share of anxiety.

Prior to entering my grad program, I had about three years of experience in non-profit fundraising along with additional work experience. I was faced with the decision of progressing in my non-profit career or making a change. I was nervous about putting all of my eggs in one basket and applying to a higher ed leadership program without having worked professionally in the field. That being said, I believe it was a fantastic choice. 

The courses I have taken so far at USD are applicable far beyond higher ed alone. We have learned about how individuals make meaning of their experiences, how to read group dynamics and apply leadership accordingly, and so much more. The skills I am learning in my coursework will be relevant in whatever role I take upon graduation – whether in higher ed or not. 

Change can feel really overwhelming, and it certainly felt that way for me. Even now, I have moments in which I wonder whether higher ed is a suitable career for me. Regardless of how unsure I can feel, I know these learning opportunities and this program will be invaluable for my professional development.

If you are ever unsure about taking the leap, feel free to reach out to me with any questions or concerns. Another great benefit of the program is the amazing community that comes with it!

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