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Alumna Eurich Explains How to Score a Career You Love

By Anastasia Capatina

Last week the Center for Careers and Internships joined forces with the Psychology and Theatre Departments to bring Dr. Tasha Eurich ’02, organizational psychologist, speaker and New York Times best-selling author, to campus. On Tuesday, Oct. 29, Eurich addressed students and professors alike in McCardell Bicentennial Hall in a lecture she called, “Two Roads Converged: How I Stumbled Upon My Dream Career.”

In her lecture, Eurich told the story of how she used subgoals, pragmatic planning and trial and error to land a career that innovatively joined her two interests: psychology and theater. “They sort of came together in a way that, frankly, I never expected, and it was really cool,” said Eurich. “It was almost like I knew all along.”

In addition to sharing her journey, she shed some insider advice on how to get ahead in the workplace, both in and outside of the field of psychology. After graduating as a Psychology and Theater Major from Middlebury, Eurich earned her PhD in industrial organizational psychology from Colorado State University. In 2008, she founded her own consulting company called The Eurich Group, allowing her to travel and do what she loves most: help people become better leaders. In her previous work, Eurich’s clients were primarily executives from Fortune 500 companies, but her new position helps her reach audiences outside the business realm, such as hospitals and even Middlebury College.

As recently as a few weeks ago, she published her first book, “Bankable Leadership: Happy People, Bottom Line Results, and the Power to Deliver Both,” which almost instantly soared to #8 on the New York Times Bestseller List as well as joining the top 100 books being sold across America, as reported by USA Today.

“When [the Theater Department] heard that she was coming, we asked to support her,” said Professor Cheryl Faraone, who attended the talk. “It’s always really helpful for students to understand that whatever they major in, it’s liable to have some kind of impact on their lives later on, but it doesn’t mean they have to follow it as a career path. Tasha was, for us, a lucky break.”

The lecture was a lucky break for students too, for whom career advice is never enough in abundance.

“I found Tasha’s point of choosing a graduate school in the area you intend to live in extremely applicable for any student planning to continue their education; every opportunity to make relevant connections should be taken,” said Rose Ardidi ’17, who plans on majoring in Neuroscience and minoring in Education Studies. “It was made evident that the opportunities Tasha was allowed arose from persistence to maintain established connections.”

Finding the right grad school in the right location, building and maintaining a network, developing writing skills, and always being pragmatic about the next small step in getting to a larger goal are just a few of the many suggestions given during the lecture.

Interesting also was Eurich’s encouragement of college students to contact working individuals in their field of study. “You can write up or call anyone and ask them to pick their brain. You can find someone famous in the field you might want to go into. Try it. They might say no. Then you go on to person B and the next person and the next person,” she said. And here’s the bull’s eye: “The reason it’s helpful to do this in college and not wait until you’ve graduated and you’re on the job market is it will be clear that you don’t want anything from them. As soon as you’re seeking a job and you ask someone, ‘Hey can I talk to you about what you do?’ They think, ‘This person is angling for something from me. They need a job and they’re using me to get it.’”

And of course, “Think about theater. The craft of getting up in front of a big group of people and figuring out a way to think straight, not be nervous, and talk in a way that other people can hear you, will serve you in literally any profession.”

One of the implicit suggestions of the talk was to consider entrepreneurial possibilities. For Eurich, her business sprang out of her self-diagnosed “bright shiny object syndrome.”

While she liked the work she had at the time, she considered taking a chance to do something that, while risky, would be a new and rewarding adventure.

“One of the things that was most impressive to me is the whole issue of self-starting. To think of yourself as an active person and use your own sense of agency,” said Faraone. “In any career in the arts, that’s absolutely essential. I also greatly appreciate the idea because people can be very employment-wary. Tasha’s admonition to dream big but dream realistically is I think both practical and gives you permission to pursue something that you might be fearful of pursuing, because maybe it’s not the most practical choice.”

As part of her visit to Middlebury, Dr. Eurich did some leadership consulting for the vice presidents and their direct reports, based on her recently published book. Vice President for Planning and Assessment and Professor of Psychology Susan Baldridge, who supervised Eurich when she was young psychology student writing her senior thesis, attended.

In an email, she wrote of her experience, “The workshop was engaging and had a very practical focus.  A number of those who attended stopped me afterward to say how helpful it was, and how impressed they were by Tasha and her work.  Her style is clear, funny, direct, and informed by the empirical research on management and leadership.

Having worked closely with Tasha as a student…I was not surprised by how positively people responded to the workshop.  She has created a career that allows her to make use of her considerable talents as someone who is deeply knowledgeable about the research literature on organizational psychology and who is also an articulate and entertaining performer.  It was a delight to have her back on campus.”

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