“I have been to tons of career service workshops/seminars over the course of my years at Tulane, but none were as personal or ‘taylor-ed’ to my specific areas of interest and my non-professional life goals as TYL. The program helped change my perception of networking and helped me feel more prepared and confident to network with professionals in my field. It also provided lots of thoughtful discussion, reflection, and resources for us to visualize my loftiest goals. I no longer feel silly considering every option – from professional mountain climber to UN official – and prototyping what each might look like.”
On the final day of the eight-week “TAYLOR Your Life” career development lab, students took a guided meditative journey 10 years into the future, envisioning themselves living the life they had designed for themselves.
Students imagined where they would be, what they wore for work (a suit, lab coat, jeans?) the view outside of their bedroom window (rural? urban?), how they commuted (bus? train? bike? shuffling down the hall in slippers to a home office?), their interactions throughout the day, the topics of their conversations at work, and then their trip back home to prepare for an evening at a 10-year reunion with their college peers.
At that moment, the lights came on, tunes were cranked up high, and the students were told that they were at a a “TAYLOR Your Life” reunion and to spend the next 20 minutes “catching up” with their peers about the past decade and what got them to this moment, the life they created for themselves.
“I loved the last workshop. It was fun envisioning life in 10 years. I have never done anything like that before. It’s crazy to think about where I will be in 10 years, but today encouraged me to set goals for my life that will bring me happiness.”
So concluded the final prototype for Taylor Your Life, a course that taught students of all ages and disciplines across Tulane University how to approach their future with the mindset and toolkit of a designer (learn more about the class and its launch at Taylor here). As such, students envisioned and explored how to build a career they loved while becoming a “changemaker” in their field—i.e., someone who uses their skills, expertise, gifts, and power to foster positive social change and affirm the humanity of all people.
As part of the learning journey, students explored career paths that intrigued them and created “Action Plans” to prototype and test their curiosities, thereby thinking ahead to map out and gain the skills and experiences needed in their field of choice. Flipping the traditional classroom model with an “expert” imparting facts for students to learn, the instructor acted as a guide, leading a team of designers to imagine a career and life that doesn’t yet exist and to build that idea into reality.
“TAYLOR Your Life completely reframed my view of my future. Instead of blindly moving through college and going through the motions, I now know the steps I can take to end up in a career that I enjoy. Because of this class I have a more concrete idea of what I want to do in my future, both professionally and personally.”
The class required “the designers” to get personal and unearth their biases and assumptions, becoming aware of past family influences and external motivations that might be impacting their future path.
“[TYL] really changed the way I look at things. I didn’t realize I had been following a certain path to career objectives based on what I saw in my family and parents… now, I have a changed perspective where I realize I should do things that fit my interests and wants… the program opened my eyes to see how many opportunities and resources we have, especially as students, and I feel confident I can tap into any of them to continue on my journey.”
After excavating external influences and choosing messages about work from their past to embrace or release, student designers brainstormed various career possibilities, examined how fear was holding them back in unhealthy ways, and then moved through that fear to build strategic prototypes to test qualities of careers that intrigued them.
“This class broke away from this idea and the expectations students have for life after college. This class encouraged us to look at different prototypes and life paths that may not fit the ‘norm.’ In this class, I was given the opportunity to break away from what I am expected to do and figure out what I want to do. The workshops allowed me to help identify myself and my goals.”
As an architect would map a new site for construction, students mapped their own ecosystems and communities, thereby learning about the power of building networks and how to tap into those networks to learn more about their desired fields.
Designers have a bias toward action and are constantly building and testing out new products, and in that spirit, student designers were encouraged to make their prototypes fail, thereby gaining valuable knowledge about the type of work that does or does not suit them.
“Ultimately, it is not about finding the right job, but designing a career/life path compatible with personal and professional interests….through the activities of this course, I was able to focus again on what really makes me happy.”
Along the way, students learned how to TAYLOR their brand, network effectively in their professional community of choice, present themselves during the job search process (via their resume, LinkedIn, and interviews), and negotiate in the job hiring process.
“Because of this class, I was able to determine what I want out of a job, how to balance happiness and work, and the value of finding a career that fits what you need. Taylor Your Life was a huge benefit to me and probably saved me many years of trial and error to help determine potential life paths.”
Read the original post about TYL to learn more abotu the class, To learn more about the course, Read the full TYL Fall 2016 Report and TYL Spring 2017 Report to learn more about the impact of this unique course.
Instructor Julia Lang is currently training 11 staff members from across the university to teach sections of Taylor Your Life in Fall 2017, thereby allowing more students the opportunity to explore their lives with the mindset and toolkit of a designer, set out to build a life that is “TAYLORed” to their unique individual changemaking path.