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Exploring the Changing Landscape

Maggie Appel-Schumacher is a leader and inspiration in the education space, and this is especially true because she practices what she preaches. Always looking for new avenues for learning and growth, Maggie is an example of how we can all remain dedicated to our own educational journeys, and keeps our minds and pathways open. Maggie is also an incredible supporter of others' growth- another reason she is a perfect fit for OutGrowth.

Enjoy our enlightening Q+A with Maggie below, and be sure to check out her feature in this month's issue of En Root: Embracing Experiential Education in All Its Forms.

Tell us about how your dedication to the field of education has played out in your career. What has been your approach to staying committed to your own personal education?

When thinking about where I would feel most at home in a work setting, educational spaces always came to mind first. Working in higher education and an educational non-profit organization, I feel inspired by others who gravitate toward the industry and admire their work ethic and commitment to continuing to educate themselves as the world changes. Working in career education allows me to learn about all different kinds of career spaces and industries, which keeps me on my toes as a learner.

At OutGrowth, we are committed to giving access. Tell us about how your work provides access to education, as you define it.

I consider myself a supporter of educational goals for the students I encounter in career counseling, as most times students have their ideas of what they want to accomplish, even if the path and course are fuzzy. Access includes understanding what options are ahead of you, so you can make an informed decision about what’s right for you. And in that way, what brings meaning to my work is the moments I can help students understand all their options ahead of them, and watch them intuitively reach for the path that most suits their short term and long term goals.

Tell us about a pinnacle point or moment in your professional journey.

In graduate school I had the opportunity to complete a three-month internship in Bangkok Thailand as a UNESCO Fellow in their East Asia Regional office. Having never been to Southeast Asia, it was going to be my first experience living and working in a place entirely different from what I knew. Not to mention, Bangkok is a big, busy, bustling city- opposite from the small town I grew up or my college town in the hills of Southwest Virginia. The experience of living and working in Thailand offered me the chance to dive into a new culture, explore the beautiful nature in Southeast Asia, gain independence through solo travel, learn conversational Thai, and interact with new people that have continued to cross my path today.

How did this experience change the course of your life, your career or your outlook?

The 99 days spent in Thailand truly reshaped my life. My education now included a deeper understanding of myself, my abilities as a young person, and my confidence to dive head first into a completely new place and know that I can lean into the experience. Living in the busy city of Bangkok motivated me to apply for jobs in New York City after my fellowship, which in turn has changed my entire life. The friendships, professional reach and job prospects in the non-profit space and urban higher education institutions have created new paths that never seemed possible and in turn has opened up many new doors.

What are your top three pieces of advice for students and professionals who are looking to re-imagine how to design (or redesign) their lives and careers?

1. Find supporters of your cause: Friends, colleagues, mentors, counselors - there will always be people who are inspired by your re-imagined life and want to support you in that goal. Identify those people and keep them close to you, as they will help you reach it!

2. Don’t overthink: If you have an inkling that a direction is drawing you toward a new opportunity, don’t let yourself get talked out of it! There is a reason why you’ve been inspired by this new direction and have the chance to redesign your life, so move with it. Better things are on the horizon

3. “Life is a journey not a destination.” - This quote sums it up!

If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?

Don’t overthink and keep the faith that the direction you’re going in will lead you somewhere worthwhile, and change your life for the better!

What is your favorite quote?

Most recently my favorite quote is “You must be bold, brave, and courageous and find a way... to get in the way.” - John Lewis

Based on your professional experience, what are the top three career competencies that you believe students should cultivate to find success and fulfillment, regardless of what path they choose?

Time Management: with only 24 hours in a day, time is a great equalizer across all fields/industries. The ability to manage your time wisely, make room for what’s important both at work and outside of work can help you maintain a balanced work schedule that fits your life outside of work.

Energy Management: Your energy is a precious resource and should be given out wisely. Knowing which people - co-workers, friends, family- are contributing or sucking away your energy can help you allocate your energy in a way that serves you. Managing your own energy can help you dodge feelings of burnout or question your fulfillment at work.

Flexibility/Adaptability: If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that the only constant in life is change. With inevitable change comes the need to always be flexible and adaptable.

What's next? What are your next steps toward growth in 2020?

Staying hopeful that the future is bright! I’m excited about what’s ahead in terms of exploring the changing landscape of the way we work and what’s important since our world has been impacted by the effects of a global pandemic. Reflecting on the main lessons learned from this year will help steer me in a new direction that enables more growth and learning opportunities!

Maggie is an International Education enthusiast that has experience working in educational non-profits and university settings in the US and Abroad. Passionate about enabling opportunities for people to explore new cultures and gain confidence/ independence through new opportunities. Maggie was born and raised in Germany and has lived in the United States for a decade, currently resides in New York City.


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