HR Employee Learning and Engagement offers small group life design series

Based on the bestseller, Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived and Joyful Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans of Stanford University, this small group program is an intentional space to focus on your life and career design, with thought-provoking activities and discussions, supportive peers and a Designing Your Life Coach to support you.

Hosted by HR Employee Learning & Engagement, the goal of the experience is to support you in building your way forward—which may mean growing or leveraging skills differently in your current role, envisioning and working toward promotional opportunities within the university, and/or contemplating a shift in focus or path at some point.

Session information

Applications are open for two small groups, which will meet virtually from mid-February through April: 

  • Wednesdays, 2-3 p.m. 
  • Thursdays, 11 a.m.-noon 

Each group session will involve reflective activities, discussions and coaching. Between sessions, you will read relevant chapters of Designing Your Life—it’s a light and interesting read! Together, we’ll work through discussions and design thinking activities that will help you to get curious, talk to people, try stuff and tell your story.


This experience is open to Vanderbilt University employees. It may be of particular interest to early- and mid-career professionals, those interested in exploring potential career paths and growth opportunities, and those looking for support around professional development and growth. A short application process is involved, as interest usually exceeds the number of seats available. Successful applicants reflect on the application questions and provide meaningful responses. 

To facilitate the best experience in this small group program, the number of seats is limited. We ask you to please check your schedule to ensure that you can participate in the scheduled program dates before applying for a seat. Your experience will be more meaningful and valuable when you fully participate in each group session.  

More information and interest form

If you are interested in participating in this small group coaching series, please visit the Designing Your Life and Career page and complete the interest form by February 10th, and we’ll be in touch. If you’d like to participate in a future small group, please complete the form and you’ll receive the first invitation to the next offering.  

Testimonials from previous participants

Every time we meet, I feel like I’m given a thought to ponder or a completely new way to look at a situation I’m dealing with. I love the sense of support the group provides and the opportunities for mutual encouragement and appreciation as we each think through the lives we seek to design. —Jolie Grace Wareham 

This program helps you step out of the box and start to look at work and life in a whole different arena. Even if you think that your work/life is/are great, we all could stand for a change in thought processes to open up to new and exciting things to keep our perspective fresh. —Machelle Keen 

I thought the small group workshop provided valuable space to connect with employees from other areas in VU. It felt great to break out of the network of my department/school and be reminded of the wider variety of people, jobs, areas, missions that make up VU. In and of itself, in absence of any of the content, just networking with people I’d never met was a great opportunity—it was invigorating and perspective-shifting. —Jeana Poindexter

This series is designed and led by Krista Vaught, Ed.D., assistant director of employee learning and engagement on the human resources team.

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