Posted: April 19, 2006
KC Maurer '84 is profiled in a new book, Smart Moves for Liberal Arts Grads: Finding a Path to Your Perfect Career, by Sheila J. Curran and Suzanne Greenwald (Ten Speed Press). Maurer, who is now the CFO of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, is one of 23 liberal arts graduates featured in the book who made what the authors call "smart moves" throughout their education and career and have gone on to all manner of fascinating and satisfying professions.
Curran and Greenwald combine lessons from these stories with their own experiences working with students and graduates to outline a framework for finding a perfect career.
Maurer graduated from Mount Holyoke with a degree in American studies and history, unsure of what kind of job she wanted. It was a connection from a campus job babysitting for the director of annual giving that led to her first job as director of development and public relations for a nonprofit in Springfield, Massachusetts. This was the beginning of what the book calls Maurer's "six-job career roller coaster."
Maurer went from nonprofit work to business school at American University in Washington, DC, and then took a job at NASA's DC headquarters through an elite postgraduate federal program called a Presidential Management Internship. Eight years later, when NASA budget cuts loomed and Maurer was forced to look elsewhere for a job, she ended up in two subsequent positions that turned out to be less than ideal. On the brink of a career-induced depression, Maurer did some soul searching to figure out what would bring her out of her career rut. "I needed to find something that was going to get me out of bed in the morning. I was 35 years old and felt stale, depressed, forlorn, lost, out of balance, foundering," Maurer says in the book. She asked herself some questions she believes all job seekers and career definers should ask themselves periodically: "Do you want to dress up for work every day? Are you more comfortable in a smaller pond? Or do you prefer a large organization? Do you care more about the product or the work? Do you want to work in a team or individually? For a profit or nonprofit organization? In the city or country? In a domestic or international situation?"
Maurer came to the realization that she wanted to return to her earlier nonprofit focus. She used Mount Holyoke's Alumnae Association career development network to start building contacts in the nonprofit world in New York City and ultimately landed her current job, where, according to the book, Maurer is "extremely happy as the CFO and second-in-command at the 22-employee Warhol Foundation."
"I'm in the right place," Maurer said in the book. "At NASA I was a tiny cog in a very big wheel. Here, I'm much more responsible for the overall health and well-being of the organization."
Authors Curran and Greenwald credit these "smart moves" by Maurer for getting her to where she is in her career:
- In college and graduate school, she got to know professors and school administrators outside the classroom and benefited greatly from those deeper, extracurricular relationships.
- She has continually challenged herself by moving outside her comfort zone.
- When she found herself in a career-induced depression, she sought professional help.
- She asked herself a comprehensive list of career-specific questions and was thus better able to fine-tune a very successful job search.