It has been a while since my last post. Honestly, life has gotten busier and I’ve been working on simply keeping this ship afloat. A feeling that I am certain each and every one of you understands. Today, I wanted to talk about Careers. For those of you who don’t know, I started my own private career counseling practice a few years ago. I’d like to be honest about something. I don’t consider myself an entrepreneur. I really don’t. I never had this vision to start my own company and quite frankly I’m terrible at asking for money (hence the reason I left sales so many years ago). A dear friend recently told me I should get edgier with my company. I have been exploring areas that I am looking to grow and have been spending a lot of time researching various industry trends that apply to my background and area of expertise. But before I move forward, I decided I wanted to share with my findinghersparkle blog. I have always had the vision to help others and I walked away from a stable, enjoyable career many years ago for a simple reason. I wanted to make a difference and help others figure out their path. Why? Because my own path has been filled with so many twists and turns. Along that path, I have learned some valuable lessons that I am confident can help others. I have decided to take a less conventional route to sharing some valuable lessons. This is rather long, but I truly believe this will help some of you and if anything, provide insight into my own vision for helping many of you that might be struggling with your own career journey.
So, here is part of my story. At the end of this entry, I would love to hear your thoughts. Have any of you experienced similar situations? Can some of you relate to these experiences?
My father was a French Immigrant who started his career in the mailroom of Smith Barney and worked his way up the corporate ladder doing things as he used to say “no one else wanted to do”. He taught me the value of hard work and the importance of always continuing my education. I looked up to my dad, and after losing my mom at 15 years old, he was my main career influence. So regardless of my true passions at 18 years old, I went off to college, majored in Business and Finance and never looked back.
I am now 46 years old with 2 advanced degrees, certifications within my industry and many years of experience both in corporate and higher education. I have had to make some tough choices along the way and I am confident that many you have struggled with some of these choices as well.
I understand the feeling of taking a risk to go into a new industry, only to realize it probably wasn’t the best decision. I started my sales career at Automatic Data Processing selling Payroll to Small Businesses and after a little over one year, I took a big risk to enter the Financial Services Industry. I sat for my Series 6 and 63 licenses, passed after a bit of a struggle and began selling Mutual Funds and Annuities. I thought at the time I was going to follow in my Father’s footsteps and become a huge success!! But guess what? I hated it! Every second of it. I was not meant to manage other people’s money, I couldn’t even manage my own. I lasted 9 months and finally resigned without another job.
I understand the feeling of being unable to pay my rent after taking such a risk. I remember asking my father for money to cover my rent and he said no. I remember feeling lost, embarrassed and disappointed in myself for letting my financial choices impact my life so much. One year earlier, I had received a huge commission check and I went on a shopping spree. Now here I was with nothing to show for it but a few Ann Taylor suits and a fancy comforter from Ralph Lauren. My roommate lent me the money that month and I will never forget feeling so embarrassed and ashamed. Never again.
I needed that reality check though. I am thankful that my dad said no that many years ago. Little did he realize how much he had helped me that year. I learned to stand on my own two feet and how to be truly hungry. For all of the parents out there, let your children fail. Failure is critical to building character. From that moment on, I never looked back and was determined to find my place. At the time, being unemployed by choice, I went to a Recruiting Firm for assistance and much to my surprise, they actually recruited me for their company, Source Services, Inc. That is where it all began, my passion for helping others find their own career paths. I just didn’t know it at the time.
When I began my career at Source Services, I didn’t realize the foundation that was about to be built. This was a time before the Internet, before Y2K, before cell phones being the norm. The world was a very different place. Very! But as my career progressed, I also learned a lot along the way. I learned about different industries, sizes of companies, how to survive a merger and acquisition, how to handle rejection and I learned how to be uncomfortable. I took huge risks. I stepped out of my comfort zone. I made good choices and bad ones. But all of these choices were part of my own career journey that has created a foundation of understanding so many facets of career growth. Which truly guided me to the place I am today.
As I reflect on my own career journey, the biggest changes that I have made were never made because I was not satisfied, they were changes I made simply to balance my life. I have no regrets. I only have perspective now. My career could have gone very differently, but at the foundation of my own passion, helping others, I’d like to say I’ve stayed true to myself. This is my story, my truth, my journey. Some of it has been a struggle and I know I don’t have to share any of this with you, but I have chosen to in hopes that it strikes a nerve for some and helps some of you step out of that comfort zone, take a risk or not take one.
I understand what it feels like to walk away from your dream job after learning that your Father has cancer. As I often say, sometimes life happens in such a way that you make a life decision, not a career decision. Making this decision guided me down a road that I am so thankful to have taken as I truly would not be where I am today if I hadn’t walked away that many years ago.
I understand what it feels like to turn down a huge opportunity to travel to Europe, earn a huge consulting fee and continue my career as a Corporate Training Consultant simply because I had just gotten married and didn’t want to be away from my husband. That decision, however, started my next chapter to earn my Master’s Degree in Counseling to start my next journey within the field of Higher Education.
I understand the feeling of walking away from a Career that I LOVED after losing my father to cancer, and it became my responsibility to move my 94-year-old grandmother across state lines. It was during that time that I had to make very tough decisions, but understandably my grandmother needed an advocate and my role as the Assistant Director of Career Development didn’t offer the flexibility I needed to serve in that role. That decision sucked. I loved my role there, the students, the staff. But as I have said before, sometimes our journey dictates the direction we go and life happening will often lead the way.
Making that decision ended up being very serendipitous on so many levels. I stepped out of my career for a time and took a role in Cancer Advocacy as a Campaign Coordinator, a role I was clearly overqualified for. But I was working with dear friends, serving a cause I was passionate about and on the career end, I was learning an entirely different industry and could add non-profits to my repertoire of knowledge from a staffing and career counseling perspective.
But in 2009, when my son was born, something shifted. I never had a plan to stay home with him and I didn’t quite know what a stay at home mom was supposed to do. I had every intention to stay out through my maternity leave, go back to work at the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and eventually find my way back into Higher Education as planned. But the day my son was born, I remember looking across the hospital room at my husband on a work call. At the time, he was a newly promoted Detective in the Major Crimes Squad of the Connecticut State Police. I watched him standing in the corner, looking out the window on the phone and it was as though we were frozen in time. I remember watching him hang up the phone, and I knew in my heart that I would not be returning to work. I knew that with the dynamics of our family, and having lost both of my parents so young, having one parent home during the early years was the right decision for our family. I don’t know how I knew it, but I just did. That was the day I became a stay at home mom. Fast forward a few years, as I am now entering my 8th Academic year as an Adjunct Professor, I reflect on all of these experiences and I am so thankful for the successes, failures, risks and “play it safes”. What has it given me? Perspective.
Why did I share all of this? Honestly? I have spent the last few years watching all of these profiles pop up on LinkedIn with these Career coaches, Influencers, Life Coaches and Career Counselors that tout their incredible experience that will give you everything you need to succeed. Some of these Coaches are 2 years out of college and have incredible websites with elaborate Career coaching packages. I am sure they have plenty to offer, but if you ever need one, be mindful of what you are looking for and what you need. I will not claim to transform your life, but I will help you talk through your journey. I will help you see perspectives that maybe you hadn’t thought about. I will offer you insight into industries that maybe you never considered. I will listen. I will not judge.
I have had to make very hard decisions in my life and I know that many of you might be faced with the same. I am parentless, the mother of an only child and a law enforcement wife. If you need to work through some career struggles, take a step back and hear a different perspective or just need to have someone with life experience there to listen, I am here. Feel free to visit my website, http://www.nmdcareers.com ~ I will be making some updates soon