BGSU alumna embraces nonlinear career path, crediting her success to the invaluable lessons learned at the University
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Megan Grandstaff built a successful career in corporate America with skills learned from theater
By Laren Kowalczyk ‘07
Fifteen years later, Megan Grandstaff ‘06, ‘07 still gets teary-eyed when reflecting on how her experience at Bowling Green State University shaped her future in unexpected ways.
The dual-degree alumna studied theater at the University and built a successful career in corporate America, defying the notion that a degree completely defines a career path and illustrating that a solid educational foundation provides a springboard to many different career opportunities.
“I know my career didn’t necessarily go as I imagined it might have, but I have so much happiness and so many great things in my life because of the lessons I learned at BGSU,” Grandstaff said. “I will forever be grateful for all the wonderful knowledge I learned from my professors and my experience at BG.”
Grandstaff’s nonlinear career journey is a story not uncommon among college graduates who find success in career fields outside of their degree and is one addressed early on through the Life Design program at BGSU, which empowers students to design their futures with an understanding that the journey to a successful career can follow many paths.
An added and integral part of the University’s mission to prepare students to be life and career-ready through Life Design is the Michael and Sara Kuhlin Hub for Career Design and Connections, which connects students to a growing network of external partners and allows them to explore career options purposefully.
"Career paths are generally nonlinear, which makes the conversations we have with professionals in different industries so powerful. We actually gain a broader understanding of the multifaceted aspects of what a career can look like beyond what might be considered the conventional pathway,” said Kerry Spitze, associate director of career connections at the Kuhlin Career Hub.
“Megan's story is the perfect example of the significance of these connections, illustrating how facilitating opportunities for students to explore nonlinear career paths earlier in their academic career instills confidence in leveraging their degrees across diverse professional avenues."
A career pivot
While at BGSU, Grandstaff earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in theater, aspiring to be an actor or work in costuming in Chicago or New York City.
She graduated amid the Great Recession, and despite the challenging outlook decided to put down roots in Chicago and find a job to make ends meet until the economy improved — a decision that ultimately kickstarted her corporate career.
Grandstaff went from making copies at a law firm to building a successful career in recruiting at EY, a global professional services organization, and she is now working in a managerial role at Bain and Company, a management consulting firm. She credits BGSU with providing her with the invaluable skills that have driven her success.
“Everything I’m most passionate about comes from theater,” Grandstaff said. “It has been foundational to every good thing in my life. When people say, ‘Oh, you’re just a theater major,’ they don’t realize how fast I can turn something around, how quickly I can think on my feet or how I can make magic within a set budget. Those skills are so beneficial in so many careers.”
Sewing for good
Although Grandstaff doesn’t work in theater, she’s remained connected to the craft through her love of sewing, a passion she developed at BGSU.
She’s held sewing workshops at her Chicago apartment, taught interns at EY the basics of sewing and is working on similar workshops at Bain. She participates yearly in Me Made May, a challenge that focuses on slow fashion and incorporating handmade garments into existing wardrobes, while connecting sewists around the globe.
Grandstaff is also part of Community Glue Workshop, a group of fixers who meet monthly across Chicago to repair people’s items for free to reduce waste in landfills. As one of the sewists in the group, Grandstaff focuses on mending tears and darning holes in fabric items.
“Get the degree and then pursue what makes you happiest,” she said. “Find a path that’s going to make you happy, and then go in that direction. My path was not linear. It was interesting and wavy, but I consider myself very fortunate for where I am today.”
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Updated: 12/18/2023 03:56PM