I started my career in 1983. Over the years, I’ve applied my skills in many areas. Here are a few: I have worked in private practice; consulted with businesses and schools; wrote more than a dozen books; consulted with authors, actors and directors; wrote regular columns for various publications; taught at the FBI Academy; and worked as a profiler for many years. The purpose of this article is to show you how a career is built. I did nothing by accident or luck. I hope this snapshot of my career will inspire you to pursue your goals.
After finishing my master’s degree, I opened a part-time private practice. I did general practice, but my passion was working with children. I knew over time I would develop my skills and reputation to where I could focus solely on children — and that eventually happened.
However, in the 1980s, there were few resources for those who wanted to do play therapy. I read every book I could find, continued my education beyond my master’s degree, and joined the Association for Play Therapy (APT). I went to the APT conference every year for years, soaking up everything I could learn from experts in the field. At the same time, I was meeting people and doors were opening for me.
When I finished my doctorate, I wrote my first professional article. I had previously done some research for an issue related to stalking (something that wasn’t even in the vocabulary of the average person prior to 1990). Additionally, I was intrigued by the potential causes of a series of shootings by U.S. Postal Service employees in the 1980s. My article addressed assessment of risk of violent behavior.
That article ended up on the desk of the former director of the FBI who had approved the original profiling research at Quantico, Virginia, where the FBI Academy is located. He called me in and asked if I would be interested in doing some training on the subject. We worked together for several years, including a decade in which I taught several times per year at the FBI Academy. That relationship also led to a very long consulting job with Delta Airlines and numerous other businesses.
I began publishing books, and almost immediately, my consulting jobs increased. I worked with famous writers such as New York Times bestselling author Lisa Gardner, who has become a very close friend. It also led to consulting work with actor/director Tyler Perry. Each writer or actor was seeking my insights as a violence expert and profiler so they could develop their characters realistically.
Over time, I moved through the ranks as a college professor, from instructor to full professor. Today I am the dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Point University, where I have served for almost 40 years.
I also began working with an agency that sent scholars around the world to colleges that needed their expertise. I eventually taught undergraduate and graduate students in more than 30 countries, sometimes literally teaching in a grass hut, as I did in both the Philippines and India. These experiences taught me many things and helped me to develop many lasting relationships. I even received a personal invitation from the president of Rwanda to train counselors to help victims of the genocide there.
Public speaking, writing, profiling, working with clients and providing supervision are just a few of the activities that rounded out my life for many years. Relationships with my professional associations also opened doors for me. I continue to serve as the editor of our state professional journal and was appointed just over a year ago to the Georgia Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers, and Marriage and Family Therapists.
I’ve never had fewer than two or three jobs since I was in the fifth grade, and I have worked very hard. Working multiple jobs has meant that I had to cut out some things. I don’t watch much TV, and my social life is minimal. But I don’t regret a single thing that I’ve done in my professional life, and despite being busy, I always had time for my children. In fact, each of them traveled with me multiple times on my international trips.
This is a short version of my career path, but here are the lessons for you. First, focus on the end game — where you want to be in 30 years — and work backward from there. Accept opportunities that move you in that direction.
Recognize open doors when they present themselves. I worked for 10 years as a consultant with Delta Airlines, and they never paid me a penny. But my association with them and the doors those relationships opened earned me thousands of dollars over time.
Recognize your deficits. I knew I wanted to be a child therapist, and I knew I had to be my own educator. I did the same thing with profiling. Professional associations are critical in this developmental process.
Finally, don’t be afraid to chase your dreams. One of my former professors said to me often, “Greg, I never worked a day in my life.” He loved his job, just as I do. And like my friend, I’ve never worked a day in my life.
Gregory K. Moffatt is a veteran counselor of more than 30 years and the dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Point University. His monthly Voice of Experience column for CT Online seeks to share theory, ethics and practice lessons learned from his diverse career, as well as inspiration for today’s counseling professionals, whether they are just starting out or have been practicing for many years. His experience includes three decades of work with children, trauma and abuse, as well as a variety of other experiences, including work with schools, businesses and law enforcement. Contact him at Greg.Moffatt@point.edu.
Opinions expressed and statements made in articles appearing on CT Online should not be assumed to represent the opinions of the editors or policies of the American Counseling Association.
Well well said Greg!