Nowadays, my journey through the world of work isn’t such an anomaly. In fact, "career change" has become a natural life progression. Most studies show that the average job seeker will change careers (not just jobs) several times over the course of his or her lifetime.
Many fear that the process of a career change will require a complete reinvention of themselves. Not so! The current myth of "reinvention," which implies discarding your accumulated life experience and starting from scratch, ignores the process of what I prefer to call "reintegration."
Here's more about my journey.
I started my career as a teacher in a New Jersey suburb. After nine years, I moved into entertainment public relations by convincing the marketing director at a large theater chain in Philadelphia that I could promote their movies. Eventually, after a similar stint in Boston, I was hired by Columbia Pictures in New York City, where, in addition to my regular duties, I began supervising and mentoring college interns. Later, while running my own small PR agency, I continued informally providing career advisement. When I ultimately realized I was happier tweaking an intern's resume than accompanying Kevin Costner on a four-day press tour, I knew it was time for a new direction.
That impetus for a change led me to combine the two threads of my background: public relations and education.
As a former classroom teacher, I knew first-hand that students are curious about the world of work. I also knew that inner- city educators grapple (often unsuccessfully) with strategies to keep kids from dropping out. Relying on the goodwill of professional colleagues, I provided 75 students with internships in entertainment company offices. By offering a real work experience in a "glamorous" industry, I hoped students would see the connection between fulfilling their dreams and furthering their education.
While I had looped back to education, I added a certificate in Career Development to my Master's in Education to create other types of career programming. Over the next 10 years as a consultant, I started a Job Center in a Harlem high school cafeteria, set up a "Dress for Success" for 3,000 students, wrote the curriculum for after-school career clubs, and arranged work-site visits for students from 65 high schools. I advised students on their post-secondary plans, and trained others to help classmates write resumes and prepare for interviews. I led professional development seminars for guidance counselors and college advisors, and was a regular on the PTA circuit presenting "Help Your Teen Get a Summer Job" and "Career Planning: How Parents Can Help."
In 2012, I transitioned again and began working with adults as an employment counselor for the New York State
Department of Labor. Simultaneously, I started a Drop-In Job Club for recent college graduates through the New York Public Library. During its two-year run, the Drop-In Job Club served over 200 Millennials, including those from different countries and cultures eager to find work in America.
While I saw clients privately for many years, I launched a full-time private practice in 2014. In addition to working 1-on-1, I offer workshops to companies, associations, and schools, and lead Job Clubs for job seekers who wish to meet on a regular basis.
And that's where I am today.
It's possible that my scenic journey across different industries and careers ends here — but who knows what the future will bring? In hindsight, I realize that I didn’t "reinvent" myself each time I made a change -- I just used my best abilities over and over again in different work settings and picked up new skills along the way. Trust me, those in-between periods were often bumpy and no transition was ever easy. But the lessons I have learned from my own diverse work history, and the career development training I received, help me make the journey easier for other career changers.