Taking a Short Break from Teaching

Heads up: All my posts are a little self-referential, but this one definitely jumps straight over the line into a personal update.  If you stumbled upon this blog and don't know me well, I won't be offended if you back away :-). I'll return to the only-moderately-self-referential posts soon. Now, onto the update... 

This year, for the first time in five years, I'm taking a break from teaching my writing course at Boston University. True to form, it took about a month of wavering before finally making the call, but here's what's behind it. 

I've loved teaching. The single biggest surprise for me about being an adjunct professor was how addictive it became. There hasn't been a single semester where I've gotten to the end of a course and not thought to myself: "I could do that better... I know how to do that better next time." Each class had its own unique personality, its own challenges and its own way of learning. That's how five years flew by in a blink.

Teaching was always a second job for me. I taught in the evenings after work. But this "second job" stayed with me over the course of three "day jobs". When I started, I was director of communications at United Way. I took it with me to my first start-up job at Performable and then onto HubSpot for the last three, almost four, years.  In all likelihood I'll return to it again -- maybe next year, maybe in a few years -- but for now, the break...

I'm taking a break from teaching mainly so I can have time to learn something new. The decision is both a time-opener and a motivator for me to make sure I spend the extra time in a way that matters, because I gave up something that matters to make it possible. I expect to return after a year sabbatical, better and smarter for it.

Things continue to move quickly at HubSpot. Undoubtedly some of the found time will find its way there, and that's well worth it. In addition to HubSpot though, there are a few new things I'm excited to take on this year.

City Awake

If you look at my resume, you'll see a mix of nonprofit and tech jobs. Sometimes that throws people. They wonder why I "made the jump"  from one industry to another.  The truth is, the two fields have more in common than you may think. Both are filled with passionate people who care more about the work they're doing than the time on the clock. Both work to find new ways to tackle existing problems. And those shared characteristics have always been a draw to me.  

So anytime I see something that converges these two fields I perk up. About a month ago I learned about City Awake, Boston's Social Impact Conference. City Awake brings together Boston's impact organizations, businesses, funders and general public for a 10-day conference that shines a light on the approaches and partnerships that are working to uproot long-standing issues and drive social and economic progress in our region. The goal, as it was explained to me by Justin Kang one of the founders is to make Greater Boston synonymous with social impact. The conference needed a marketer, so on a volunteer-basis I'll be working on their marketing strategy. 


Just over a year ago (61 weeks if I'm to trust the instagram shot I took there) I went to an office warming party at EverTrue's offices. EverTrue is a donor intelligence platform that gives universities and nonprofits better data for fundraising and finding new supporters. Over time I've gotten to know a number of the people who make up their impressive team. We've traded ideas on marketing informally and moving forward I'm going to get to do so in a more structured way as an advisor.  

Reading on Deadline

People don't take classes because they can't learn the subject any other way. They take classes because a structured curriculum gives them discipline. Assignments, deadlines, all the things we hate most about coursework are in fact what keeps us learning. So, very simply, the final allocation of added time will by spent by giving myself a sort of curriculum. Nothing too crazy. Just two books a month.  In the interest of not compartmentalizing, one of the books each month will likely focus on an area of business or tech that I need to learn and the other will be something wholly different (or as different as things can be in a world where everything is related). I'll write up both here each month as a way of enforcing the curriculum and then hopefully, if I don't stumble too much, I'll have between 20 and 30 under my belt by year's end. This isn't a resolution so much as a long-held recognition that the most thought-filled people I know (my sister, members of my team, my husband) are all voracious spare-time readers. And I am better when I'm tagging along with them. 

January's books

  1. Waking Up: a guide to spirituality without religion (Sam Harris)
  2. Hooked: on making habit-forming products (Nir Eyal) 



Topics: personal update