The instructor of the U’s Career Change Foundations course uses neuroscience and personal experience to guide job seekers to careers with meaning

Are you feeling stuck in a career that no longer energizes you? Looking for a career path that pays better? Between jobs and wanting to try something more you? Cindy Edwards has been there. She has successfully changed careers herself and has guided thousands of others. Now she wants to help you do the same in the Career Change Foundations course she developed for the University of Minnesota College of Continuing and Professional Studies.

Like so many college students, Edwards studied for one profession but found herself working in another. Her undergraduate degree at St. Cloud State University was in teaching and adolescent psychology, but her work life began in technology. For nine years she performed a variety of quality assurance activities, including developing a QA department from scratch. During that time, she realized that her favorite part of developing QA processes was working with the people who would implement them. 

That epiphany prompted Edwards to seek a graduate degree in organization development and human resource management which, in turn, led her to a college course in career development, where she had to outline her own professional identity and career path. 

“In that class, I realized that that’s what I wanted to do: help people identify and get into a career that would make them happy,” says Edwards, who has since gotten numerous certifications in career coaching and training. “More and more, people are realizing that something as important as finding the right career can benefit from the guidance of a professional career coach.” 

Edwards points to the experience of one of her clients to illustrate her process. “Erik had lost his job in higher education, an industry he’d been in for 30 years, so he didn’t know any other world. He was overwhelmed when he came to me for help.” 

Edwards helped Erik examine his skill set, his values and interests, and his economic and work environment needs. They looked at various industries that interested Erik and dissected job titles within them to understand whether Erik had transferable skills. “We often have a bias that stops us from exploring certain career possibilities,” says Edwards. “You have to take time to research and explore each option to see clearly what would make a good fit for you.”

Digging into Erik’s activities and interests, they uncovered that not only did Erik have experience building computer systems, it was something he did as a hobby, so he really enjoyed it. “Now he’s an IT infrastructure manager and is super happy with his new career,” says Edwards. 

Edwards says Career Change Foundations will be a deep dive into understanding one's strengths and discovering blind spots to reveal possibilities. “Neuroscience shows us that we learn what we learn, meaning what we know is often much more limited than what’s actually out there. Our brain gets stuck in a rut and we can’t see the trees in the forest.”

In the course, participants will pinpoint not only their needs but also their desires for their work life. They'll learn techniques to determine priorities and reframe thoughts and habits around change that may be limiting.

“What’s unique about me as a coach and trainer is that I use neuroscience and consciousness research, tools, and techniques to help people differentiate thought patterns,” says Edwards. “I help clients link opposing ideas together so that they think differently, gain new insight, and create meaningful change.”