Client: Christine Lowthert was director of athletics for a small, liberal arts college in New England.
Industry: Higher Education, College Athletics, Nonprofit, Consulting
Function: Leadership, Management, Organizational Development, Strategic Planning
Challenge: After nearly 20 years living and working far from her hometown, Christine decided it was time to find employment closer to family and she needed help transitioning.
Process: After a career coaching deep-dive, Christine leveraged social capital, a resume overhaul, and LinkedIn to explore and pursue a totally new career path.
Landing: In addition to landing as area director for a national nonprofit, a position that offered virtually everything that she was looking for in a new career, Christine garnered some unanticipated consulting work, inspiring her to launch a small LLC to manage such opportunities.
Study: For 17 years Christine Lowthert worked in higher education college athletics. In the last eight years of that period, she helped run the athletics department at a small, liberal arts college in Massachusetts. She oversaw multiple aspects of student-athlete services and athletic programming, ultimately growing the department and bringing new revenue to the school. Christine’s tenure there was capped by a promotion to director of athletics, a source of pride to her and a testament to her career achievements.
After nearly 20 years in the field, however, Christine began to realize that she wanted a change. Christine hired a career coach to discuss her concerns. Those conversations resulted in Christine deciding to get out of college athletics altogether.
“College athletics was something I enjoyed and was good at, but I had fallen into it, rather than chosen it. I never intended to spend my career doing it,” said Christine. “It had also taken me far from where I had grown up, and I wanted to be closer to family.”
So, Christine resigned at the end of the school year, sold her house, and moved back to the Philadelphia area. She took the summer off to think about her next move. She knew she was drawn to mission-driven work, especially at nonprofits. Towards the end of August, she started sending out resumes.
It didn’t go well.
“I was stunned to get no responses. In my last role, I had people seeking me out with opportunities. When I still had no responses by the end of September, I started to get nervous, thinking “this is going to be harder than I thought.”
Christine started researching recruiters and stumbled upon The Barrett Group (TBG).
“I really liked The Barrett Group approach because it felt holistic. And, rather than relying on a recruiter to match me with a job, I would learn how to develop myself and my career. At a time when I felt I had no control over the job seeking process, that was crucial to me.”
Christine was reluctant to spend any more time evaluating her career path in the Clarity Program because she had already worked with a career coach a few months earlier and wanted to focus on job seeking. But she was glad she did.
“I started off impatient, but there was so much value in my Clarity sessions. I soon saw that trusting the process would help me find the best long-term fit in my next job. I really liked working with Mike Stromberg, my Clarity coach. He provided meaningful feedback on the personality assessment I took and did a great job showing me how to assess whether an opportunity would be right for me. Up to that point, in my eagerness, I had been applying to anything – even things I knew I didn’t want. After Clarity, though, I withdrew myself from consideration for opportunities that I knew weren’t right for me.”
For Christine, the most valuable aspect of Clarity boiled down to nine words.
“My ‘Aha!’ moment was when Mike observed, ‘I strive best when I work for a cause.’ That sentence is so simple, but I had been struggling for a while to articulate the sentiment. I knew I like to help people and wanted to work for a nonprofit, but Mike’s comment was so succinct and spot-on that it became a guide in my job search.”
With greater insight than ever about her career path, Christine began meeting with her career consultant, Larry DiBoni.
“I loved Larry! We had an immediate connection, and he became an integral part of my life at the time. We had very transparent discussions about the steps I needed to take. He was so knowledgeable and uplifting that it felt like mentoring, not a business relationship.”
Christine and Larry met weekly, covering different topics each time, beginning with Christine’s resume.
“The resume rewrite was very powerful. It was a complete overhaul. Before TBG, I had been taught to simply update experiences and responsibilities as they happened. But once the resume writing team got a hold of my resume, they told my story. They highlighted my accomplishments, the specifics of what I had achieved, and the results I produced. It was a very impressive process, and it completely changed my thinking about how to write a resume – and, frankly, how to read a resume as a hiring manager. I was very appreciative of that experience!”
Larry and the resume writing team also helped Christine transform her LinkedIn profile – which produced an unexpected outcome in her job search.
“Within a few weeks of updating my LinkedIn profile, I got an unsolicited message from someone who is building software for the athletics industry. She offered me contract work to provide expertise on how the software should operate and what features it should have. It’s just a small role, and it allows me to capitalize on my experience in the athletics world.”
Christine found the most challenging exercise of the TBG Program to be building social capital.
“I’m an introvert and I don’t like to ask for help. Even though the calls Larry asked me to make were just to catch up with people, not to ask for a job, I struggled to do it. I put it off for a while, but Larry did a good job motivating me. Eventually, I put on my extrovert hat and did it. I soon learned how valuable it is.”
Concerned by how much time it was taking her to find a job, Christine knuckled down and began calling people in her network. Soon, she began meeting new acquaintances for coffee and breakfast. Then, on February 1, Christine recollects, the floodgates opened.
“Overnight, I went from getting zero responses to tons of leads. I don’t know what happened, but it was wonderful! People were calling and emailing to tell me about opportunities they thought I might like. Some led to interviews, some did not. I decided not to pursue anything regarding athletics, but I was thrilled to see doors opening.”
Christine’s activity on LinkedIn continued to pay off, too.
“I found myself interviewing for three jobs that I applied to on LinkedIn. Larry was very helpful in prepping me for the interviews. We went through the job descriptions point by point, and he coached me on how best to answer questions I might get. He was very motivational. Of the three roles, one was a phenomenal fit. It is at a nonprofit located close to my family with a mission to support and inspire youth to be successful. To me, there is no greater cause.”
Seven months after starting the TBG program, Christine was offered the position of area director for a large, national nonprofit organization in the Wilmington, Delaware region catering to children of all ages that ticks virtually every one of her boxes. She couldn’t be happier.
“It’s going really well! The team is amazing. My boss is very supportive and encouraging, and everyone that reports to me is so committed to helping and developing the children. I’m excited to be able to build something special here.”
In addition to finding an appealing full-time role, Christine has decided to start a small consulting business doing work for people in the athletics world needing periodic help with projects.
“I received enough offers for part-time gigs while I was job hunting that I was inspired to launch my own company. I will be selective about the jobs I take and see where it goes.”
Christine is grateful to have regained a sense of control over her career and to have learned so much about career management from TBG.
“Nothing could have been better about The Barrett Group Program. And it’s hard to know what was most valuable about the program because everything goes hand in hand. Clarity helped me identify what I was looking for, and Larry taught me how to pursue it. Understanding the different layers of the whole process is so valuable – and I will continue to carry that knowledge with me throughout my career.”