Fueled by aspirations to public service and to address the world's most pressing social and environmental challenges, HKS students pursue extraordinary lives. The professional prospects for HKS students are richly diverse, but also, as a result, less structured and harder to forecast than in other fields (e.g., business, law, medicine). This module is designed to help students navigate careers fueled by aspirations to contribute to the public good, including considerations of work-life and wellbeing. With a primary focus on their next five-to-ten years, the course will help students frame their choices, explore and develop their options, and ultimately create a working plan for moving forward.
Drawing on evidence from the study of professional careers and leadership journeys, work-family conflict and integration, and wellbeing, the module adopts a broader “life” perspective. The course is grounded in the premise that HKS students have agency in determining the direction of their careers. While not everything is planned and certain, self-direction is possible and is likely to be facilitated by actively exploring alternative paths.
Students should be prepared for a substantial course load, with rigorous work expectations in and out of classroom. Students will read relevant academic research, conduct expert interviews, and participate in reflective and interactive exercises. Peer coaching is integral to the teaching model, which is designed to build a sense of community that we hope will last for years ahead. Course assignments and peer coaching will be adapted to accommodate the diversity of career stages among students in the class.
The module is structured into three blocks: knowing yourself (e.g., aspirations, motivations, values); where are you going and how are you getting there (e.g., negotiating careers, networking, developing a leadership story); and building the resilience (e.g., wellness, work and family). Students will hear from HKS alumni, not because they have cracked-the-code, but because their leadership stories can help current students make sense of their own potential career paths. Through engagement with the course materials and relevant experts in their fields, students will develop a life and professional plan of action for the coming years.