Episode #50

You Are Not the Container

Your career, your body of scholarly work, is independent of any ‘container’ through which you do that work, like a university or institution. Have you ever thought about this idea? It’s important.


We often look at our career paths in terms of a certain ‘container’. We make choices based on things like which grad school has a reputation that will position us well in our fields, which institutions provide pre-tenure opportunities, etc. Much of the conversation about career paths gets steered toward what the ‘container’ wants: how do I get tenure here? Or full? If you pause to reflect, you might realize you are contorting yourself and your work to fit the needs of your current container. 

I want to flip the script and encourage you to look at your career differently. I’m going to give you some examples to help you see that you are not the container. You do not have to accept the container you’re in, and doing so is not the only way in which to advance your work. There are several ways to make change for yourself and your work:

  • Work to effect change for yourself inside the container you’re in
  • Change containers 
  • Create your own container


Sarah Dobson’s Story

On the podcast this past summer we ran a series of interviews highlighting the unique paths that womxn take to and through academia. One guest, Sarah Dobson, is a perfect example of how the work can be done through all kinds of different containers. (If you haven’t heard her episode, I encourage you to go back and take a listen, it’s fantastic!)

Sarah has continued to put her work into the world through a variety of containers: academic institutions, public health nonprofits, and now her own business, doing grant consulting to help others in the field get funding. She continues to influence and add to the body of work in her field of public health through all these different kinds of containers. 

An Amplify Client’s Story

A client in our Amplify pre-tenure program is another great example. She was running an entire graduate program by herself: doing all the admitting, advising and managing for all the students in the program. Her university made no allowances in pay or time to balance this, and she was nearing burn out. 

After coaching and support inside the group, she decided to go on the market. She got a better job, with higher pay and fewer responsibilities. She felt more appreciated and avoided total burnout. She stayed in academia, but changed her container to one that fit better. 

“You don’t have to settle.” 

My Stories

Early in my career, I discovered that part of the job I had been hired to do was not working out at all like I had intended. (High level integration of technology into the educational English learning setting ended up being more like low level IT support.) This was not ok with me, and I couldn’t imagine living out my career this way. I negotiated with my department, and was able to change that part of my job. I always looked for ways to mold my job to the ways I wanted to experience it, by finding research and grant releases for example.

“Can I change this? Can I make this better?”

Later in my career, big changes in my institution itself turned it into a place that was not fun to work at anymore. I did some self reflection, working through a process we now use in our Elevate program, to find my zone of genius. I asked myself what I really loved in my work, and how I wanted to put my work into the world. The final result was this business I am running now to coach other academic womxn. I created my own container, and continue to joyfully put my work into the world! 

For more examples of how academic womxn use different containers to do their work, check out the interviews from the summer session of the podcast, episodes 34 through 43. 


Applications are open now! Our 6-month intensive program for post tenure women who are ready to up-level their careers on their own terms is only running one time in 2021: February-July.

Here’s what you get through this program:

  • 6 key workshops to help you create and enact your personal plan
  • 6 one-on-one calls, plus group coaching
  • A fantastic, supportive community of like-minded womxn

 If you sign up NOW, you also get:

  • 2 extra one-on-one calls to be used right away in 2020
  • Early entrance into our Amplify and Elevate community for support, workshops and planning sessions, and people who ‘get it’
  • An invitation to our virtual retreat happening in January 2021

Don’t wait, start the application process now to get the most out of your membership!

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