Do you feel it when you clock into work everyday? When those two things can’t be found in the work we do, we reevaluate whether we have chosen the right career paths for ourselves. Some of us get to the point where we fall out of love with our careers or we discover that want we wanted to do for the rest of our lives isn’t the right fit for us. We start to panic wondering if it’s too late to start all over again or if it is even worth it?
It’s never too late to switch careers. Many women are switching careers and embarking on new paths to fulfill their passions, accommodate their lifestyle and to live in their own truths. Discover how three women were able to make drastic changes to their career and lifestyle in order to align their career goals with their purpose. Despite the skepticism their family and friends may have, these women are betting on themselves.
MY PASSION MADE ME LEAVE CORPORATE AMERICA
Wanting to impact change in the world and equip children with STEM skills and opportunity enticed Kelley O. Williams to switch careers. Kelley, her sister Jessica and her mother Rachel joined forces to create their family business, Paige & Paxton, which offers children’s books, elementary curriculum and professional development focused around STEM. Before becoming an entrepreneur, Kelley was the Assistant Vice President of Social Media at J.P. Morgan Chase and oversaw the social content strategy Chase Community Giving, the largest social property at the firm with 3.7 million followers across all platforms. She decided to switch her career as she saw the Paige & Paxton brand grow including the recent contract to work with the Chicago School System.
“I did not take the same precautions I would advise people who are preparing to make the switch from a full time gig to entrepreneurship. I had a significant amount of money saved, good credit, and the ability to live rent-free while I transitioned over to full time entrepreneurship. I actually did not prep and plan to change careers. It felt like the right moment to act, and I was emotionally and mentally prepared, so I did it,” Kelley shares.
She let the negativity roll off her back when some of the people close to her did not agree with her decision. “I never took it too personally, because I know that my family and friends mean well, and the nervous and negative reactions just served as a source of motivation for me,” Kelley shared.
What helps her shake the negativity away is knowing and understanding her purpose. “A child interested in baseball will make their parents send him to baseball camp. A child who wants to be a ballerina will finagle dance lessons. I know that parents and educators will be more open to committing the resources to children who demonstrate an interest in learning STEM concepts. Whether your parent is an engineer in Silicon Valley or not, I want to ensure that all children understand the breadth of opportunities available to them when someone asks the question ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’” Kelley shared.
Since leaving J.P. Morgan Chase, Kelley had to figure out how to gain credibility for her expertise without having a big name to back her. “When you have a corporate title and brand behind your name, it’s really easy for people to gauge who you are. You don’t need to prove your credibility as much. I had to rework my identity for the first time in a long time, but now I love what I do and what I stand for so much more,” she says.
In addition to building the brand she experience typically start-up woes. “Like most startups, the biggest challenge has been timely access to capital. It’s something that we have to manage constantly so that we can continue to grow the business. Another challenge is balancing marketing and sales with product, content development and production,” Kelley adds. Her advice for making that switch to becoming an entrepreneur is to seek advice, but stays true to your purpose. “Always seek the advice of good counsel, because every time you open the door to what you are going through you will find better solutions and feel less alone in the entrepreneurial journey. However, you should also trust your instinct. You know your business and customer better than anyone else,” Kelley says.
MY CIRCUMSTANCES CHANGED MY CAREER PATH
That moment when you make the decision to switch careers can be affected by circumstances, like it did with Ka’Lyn Banks. The 25-year-old thought that her passion was in education. After graduation, she became a preschool teacher at charter school in Washington, D.C. “I was let go from the school for being too vocal about the lack of education and diversity amongst other things and that is when I realized I don’t belong in a classroom with small children. I still love to teach, but I know that I need to work with adults,” Ka’Lyn said.
Discovering that she desired a platform where she could discuss and advocate on issues of her choice, she decided to pursue a career in digital media as a consultant. After becoming unemployed, Ka’Lyn struggled with the decision to switch careers. “I had been dealing with depression and had to start therapy. Unemployment amongst other things can take a toll on the mind. I found myself often times blaming myself for losing my job and being forced [somewhat] to switch careers,” Ka’Lyn said.
Not everyone will be in support of your desire to switch careers. Sometimes people won’t understand your desire to make a change. Switching careers can be a difficult decision, especially when it affects your income and changes your lifestyle.
Ka’Lyn fiancé’s support and assistance with bills as well as the encouragement from friends, kept her from falling apart. Not everyone is going to understand your decision to change careers. Especially, when you set off to become an entrepreneur. “[My parents] are still not 100% sure if they understand why I am not working a traditional 9-5 job with health benefits and a corner office,” Ka’Lyn said.
Although her switch was difficult Ka’Lyn learned some valuable lessons. “My advice is to protect your energy because people will drain you dry with their comments, opinions, unsolicited advice and negativity. Also, save money before you make the switch. I don’t have a special dollar amount but even having an extra $20 dollars will help on the day you need something,” Ka’Lyn shared.
I WANTED TO WALK MY OWN PATH & NOT MY PARENTS’
Some of us have family members who create our career paths from birth. They’ve prepped and molded us to become one thing, but your heart wants to do another. That’s what happened to Bianca Jeanty when she switched her career course from pre-med to advertising. “In school I was studying behavioral sciences and I thought I would move forward by going into medical school or something in the health field. My family is from the Caribbean. They are Haitian and they were like are you going to be a doctor, lawyer or engineer? What are you going to be?” Bianca said.
She returned to college after a sabbatical from school to finish up her senior year, Bianca knew she did not want to pursue a career in the health industry. Per the advice from her mentors and peers, she completed her behavioral science degree, but she knew she had a long road ahead to break into the media world. “I made it my business to find the resources that I needed to get where I am today. I talked to the right people so that I could understand the industry and be able to use the language to talk up what I want to do,” Bianca says. After taking on a variety of paid and volunteer opportunities to gain the experience and skills that she would need to break into the media world, she finally was offered a job in advertising. Now Bianca is working in the field that she tenaciously pursued and paying it forward as the Co-Founder of Minorities in Media digital hub.
“Bet on yourself! That’s my advice. I loved the jobs that I had prior to this one, but no one was going to get me the advertising role that I wanted except for me. You can do so much more than you think you can,” Bianca says.
No matter the circumstances that may lead you to consider switching careers, the decision is only yours to choose.
Are you planning to take that leap of faith and switch your career?