How the heck do you go from being a successful government employee to a career transition coach? I get this question often.
To a stranger, it seems like such a big change that it is easy to wonder where it all started for me. And I have been asked so many times that now I decided to answer it…publicly.
I’ve actually been coaching throughout my whole career, from the ripe age of 22, but I didn’t know I was. What I did know was that I absolutely love helping people figure out what they want to do — so much so that people were seeking me out regularly and it was a joke among my friends that coaching people was my favorite hobby.
I get such joy from helping others in this way. To see their faces light up. To see them get that they can go to work and have it not feel like work. To get the salary they deserve. To go for their dream job rather than fantasize about it.
There’s nothing like it.
How It All Started
When I was in college, I had NO idea what I wanted to do and I was MISERABLE. I had no clue how to form a strategy to get a job, nevermind start a career.
It took a year and a half of job searching with lots of fits and starts, tons of applications sent, doubt coming up often, some interviews had, tears of frustration, and only one job offer to show for it (which I turned down for an unpaid internship). I applied to anything and everything that sounded half decent as a job, without being intentional about the kind of career I wanted.
The job search was miserable. Unbearable. Demotivating. And exhausting.
I got sick and tired of being sick and tired. I decided there had to be another way: a more fun and easy way to create a career I love. And I was saying this as a senior in college!
What I discovered is that applying online was like shooting in the dark, nearly always a miss. I didn’t know what I was doing wrong and I wasn’t going to find out from a bunch of hiring managers who didn’t know me.
I realized it would be way more effective to know somebody who’s willing to help me navigate the job search and interview process so I switched tactics and focused on getting to know people who could help me land a job I desired.
After using my networking method to land my dream job as a legislative assistant for the Senate Banking Committee right at the start of the U.S. financial crisis, droves of people began to ask to speak to me. They wanted to find out how I got that job and how they could do the same.
One thing led to another and I began guiding many people to careers they loved.
The joy and passion I had for helping people in this way was immense and it still took me another five years to realize, I can make this “hobby” into my career.
In the meantime, I had fun helping people navigate their job search process and land jobs. When they called me to squeal with joy over an internship or job they got, I hooped and hollered with them. Nothing felt better in the world to me.
It was only when I began to feel like it was time for something new and different that I caught myself flirting with the idea of becoming a full-time career transition coach. And once you get an idea like that in your head–the notion of turning your passion project into your career, it becomes that annoying mosquito buzzing in your ear and no matter how hard you try, you can’t get rid of it.
From there, I launched into coaching as a side business and enjoyed working with a few people at a time. At first, this was more than enough. I felt joy and purpose in my side business while working my full-time job. But then the mosquito came back and it won’t leave, telling me to quit my job and go for it full time.
That mosquito stuck around for about a year before I listened to it.
When I did quit, I was so ready and I found so many new possibilities for my business that I wouldn’t have been able to see had I stayed in my day job. It’s been terrifying and exciting adventure. It’s brought celebratory dancing and tears. Gratitude and frustration.
And that’s what most career transitions are: a roller coaster of emotions as you figure out what you want to do and how to get there. Thank goodness I had some impeccable coaching along the way to get there because I’m not sure I would have gone for it on my own.