LOVE MONDAY: Featuring Eva Bradshaw
At Painted Turtle Partners, we believe that every individual should be able to fully utilize their interests, skills and experience in a work setting that they will enjoy. In our weekly post, “Love Monday”, we will be highlighting individuals that have made a major career change and now love what they do. This week, you will gain insight from Eva Bradshaw who went from retirement from The Ohio State University to the Regional Affiliate Manager for the National Center for Women & IT (NCWIT). Learn what career changes she made and how she got there.
What was your past career(s) and what are you doing now?
I had a 30-year career working for The Ohio State University in a variety of roles, mainly in Information Technology. While at Ohio State my experience included working for OSU Extension, both in Columbus and in Fulton County where I started my professional career at the same time that PC’s were being introduced in the county offices. As the newest employee, my colleagues expected me to know the new technology and I didn’t want to let them down, so I learned all I could about computers and never looked back.
The largest undertaking in my years at Ohio State was leading the merger of IT staff and networks for the College of Education and Human Ecology. We had to assemble our team and support the full college all while everyone was shifting roles and moving to new buildings. It felt like we were driving the bus while the tires were being changed, but it was certainly an exciting time.
Currently, I am a Regional Affiliate Manager for NCWIT, the National Center for Women & IT. In this role I support 16 affiliates, mainly state-wide volunteer teams to encourage young women to pursue computer science through an awards program for Aspirations in Computing. Basically, I’m paid to do something that I’ve been doing as a volunteer for most of my career; encourage more young women to work in IT.
Was there a point when you just knew that you wanted and needed to go for this new opportunity? Can you describe that moment? What pushed you to move forward?
Retiring from a full-time position at Ohio State opened the world to me. I had worked there for my entire professional career, and it became the filter for how I viewed the world. I needed to walk away from this employer to see the bigger picture and find another way to contribute to the profession.
NCWIT was established in 2004, with support from the National Science Foundation, with a mission to significantly increase girls’ and women’s meaningful participation in computing. I have been volunteering with the same basic goals as NCWIT for over 20 years and it is a dream come true to move into this as my job.
What helped to prepare you for this career change?
Networking is key to knowing about openings and seeing possible new careers. Getting outside the day-to-day environment and meeting with other groups whose work is only tangentially related to yours can be very beneficial. At Ohio State, guest lecturers are common and making time to attend lectures and workshops with topics that might not seem outside your job description is a way to broaden your viewpoint and to see the filters that others use to interpret their world.
Today’s meet ups can fill that same role, and I think they can expand your world view and also build professional networks.
What have been the biggest struggles and/or hurdles that you have encountered with this change? What are you doing to overcome them?
There are times when I have to remember the organizational structure and how to work within it. I have a position that implements decisions made by others. Assuming a role that has less authority is both freeing and constraining. It’s been a welcome change to not have to manage the work of others and focus less on budgets and paperwork. However, the need to make sure that all I do is within the scope of the organization and valued by my managers is a balancing act. This position is virtual and being located at a distance from team members brings challenges and advantages. I love the commute from downstairs to my office upstairs and the flexibility of my schedule. Feeling isolated and less involved in the office discussions and daily discourse is a drawback. Connecting with local groups has allowed me to get out in the community and share the work I do with others as well as form a new network of like-minded professionals.
If you were to offer one piece of advice to individuals that are contemplating making a major career change, what would it be?
Bloom where you are – this is something that I heard many years ago and I think it has meaning for me still. Don’t wait for the perfect opportunity to volunteer or join a new group, jump into something and if it doesn’t exist yet, create the group you want to join. Find enjoyment in your daily work and share that sense of fun with your colleagues and staff.
You can learn more about Eva by visiting her LinkedIn page or through twitter at @bradshawe . Also learn more about the National Center for Women and IT and Eva suggests the following Blog for all of those who are passionate about gender equality in STEM.