The Courage to Stop My ‘Perfect’ Career Life

Lassie Chen recently completed our MA in Career Development and Coaching Studies and achieved a distinction overall! After having moved from Shanghai to Coventry in order to complete her degree, she shares what motivated her to study the course and what her life has been like since returning to China….

The title of the dissertation I wrote as part of my MA in Career Developmnet and Coaching Studies was  ‘The Career Challenge of Shanghai Corporate HR Practitioners in the Globalisation Era: Where Should I Go?’

Where should I go? I kept asking myself the question over the past two years. Before coming to the UK for the study in CLL, I had been working for a multinational fashion group for three years. My career was described as ‘perfect’ by other people but I was not happy with my career life.

In a utilitarian world, such as my home country, it is difficult for a single thirty-year-old woman to be understood and looked upon favourably by her friends and peers when she quits her stable job to continue her studies in an unfamiliar country, when she is more expected to get married at a proper age. Stopping my previous job and studying  Career Development and Coaching Studies was not only a choice of study, it was more about the choice of my life. I chose the CLL at the University of Warwick from the many programmes relevant to human resource and talent management in the UK because I wanted to learn not just how to manage others, but how to understand myself.

As a senior employee who has worked in the workplace, especially in the HR field for almost a decade, I often felt that I was working by inertia and my own mindset. I rarely looked back at my successes and failures, and my strengths and areas for improvement, but the CLL approach has forced me to confront my own dilemmas. The first important thing I learned in CLL is ‘Why I wanted to stop my so-called perfect career life.’ The theory of work adjustment in Module 1 (‘Career Development Theories’) answered my question. I discovered a hidden self in the course. The concept of satisfaction/satisfactoriness explains the reason for the lack of motivation behind my behaviour. The fundamental reason for a resignation can be the result of the interplay of people’s degree of acceptance to the reinforced patterns and their career values, rather than the surface reasons such as salary, promotion and relationships. Based on that fascinating first module, I begin more and more know who I am and what I really want in my future career. We can never coach others’ study and lives without already knowing ourselves. CLL granted me the opportunities to do a self-career development diagnosis by looking into the mirror.

The second important thing I learned is how to continuously develop my own career. The Systems Theory Framework of Patton and McMahon was like a ‘bible’ during my one-year study. When looking into the ‘individual system’, I realized some elements like ‘gender’, ‘personality’ can be my disadvantage or eternal obstacles hard to overcome when looking for a job in my home country where collectivism is advocated. However, there is still enough space for me to leverage some other elements like ‘interest’, ‘aptitude’, ‘values’, ‘self-concept’ to find more suitable job opportunities in a right place which allow me to have healthier career development over the life span. Career development is like finding yourself a highly matched container. But there is not only one correct container. If one day it is too narrow or forces you in an uncomfortable position, why not create a customised container or just jump into the ocean and ride the tide?

Now I am working for a French facility management company as Learning and Development supervisor. I’ve left the fashion industry forever. I chose an employer who recognized and appreciated everything I had learnt at CLL. In my final round interview, my boss asked me “what did you gain at Warwick?” I said I received real care, support and respect to a mature Asian female student who came to the UK for chasing her change. Here I would like to thank Gill Frigerio, who offered me the seat to study here and fully supported my dissertation as my supervisor.  I was also able to work with Gill on a research project looking at the experience of UK minority ethnic students on our course.

CLL is a wonderful place with diversity and inclusion, I am looking forward to seeing more and more mature students join the course and encounter a different ‘new you’.

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