Bryan Harter, MSW '05, is the first to admit that his resume takes some unexpected leaps. But upon closer examination, you could argue that he's actually been preparing for his current job—director of the AstraZeneca Hope Lodge in Boston—his entire adult life.
First, there was the undergraduate psychology degree. Then came the financial consulting gigs and the MBA with a focus on information technology. After two years as the vice president of an Internet startup and four years at the head of his own IT consulting firm, he did the logical thing for an up-and-coming business executive: he became a social worker.
"There was always a service-oriented thread," says Harter, talking about his work experience prior to enrolling in the Boston College School of Social Work. The majority of his IT consulting work was "social entrepreneurship," bringing powerful new technologies to the kinds of organizations typically overlooked by the information age: community development agencies and non-profits.
Harter enjoyed running a successful, community-oriented business, but found himself increasingly drawn to a more hands-on approach to helping people.
A degree in clinical social work, he decided, would not only get him closer to the people, but allow him to work with a very specific group: cancer patients and their families. Harter lost his father to pancreatic cancer when he was 21 and watched his father-in-law succumb to colon cancer in 2003. Harter's wife is also a breast cancer survivor.
When it was time to apply for field placements at BCSSW, Harter went straight for a clinical internship with the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, providing counseling to gastro-intestinal cancer patients and their families.
"I definitely found some personal meaning," says Harter of his internship at Dana Farber, which evolved into a full-time job after graduation. "Being a social worker was a way to give back for the great care that my father had received."
Now Harter is the director of the 40-room AstraZeneca Hope Lodge, a facility that provides free housing to cancer patients who have to travel long distances for outpatient treatment at Boston hospitals. He says he couldn't have landed his dream job without his background in business, technology and operations, let alone his degree from BC Social Work.
Maybe an indirect career path is the very best kind.