Career path stepping stones can occur in expected places. What is important to understand about the stepping stone metaphor is that the stones are already there. You run into trouble when you try to carry them into the river with you.
Stone 4/Career A: Student Affairs Officer
Found by: Opportunity + Credentials + Hard Campaigning
Led to: Career expansion
After nearly 4 years in that role, I began to evaluate my resume against others' in the field with an eye toward filling in those gaps. With complete support of my manager, I waged an old-fashioned national search.
Stone 5: Student Affairs Officer
Found by: Shoe leather and a box of Crane's. In those days, in that industry, we cattle-called at national conventions. After more than 30 interviews of various call-back levels, I managed to be hired by a school right across town.
Led to: total collapse. Famously described elsewhere.
Stone 6: Unemployment
Found by: Walking away. Known in my circles as "selfish, immature, and unprofessional." Until you understand what it led to.
Led to: Volunteer for life position, now in its 13th year.
Stone 7: Reader/Director, media access