My Career Story | Seersucker Sass

Monday, October 17, 2016

My Career Story

While browsing on Twitter, I came across a blog post by Kayla Hollatz about her career story.  (Seriously, read it!)  In the article, Kayla talks about all of the steps that took her to where she is in her career today.  And because I thought it was such a brilliant idea, I wanted to do the same.

As bloggers, we're able to control what parts of our lives we share.  But I'm always so curious about those parts of life that we don't talk about.  What do we do from 9-5?  What makes us tick?  What are our struggles?  What are our accomplishments?  What got us to where we are?  What makes us who we are today?  So. Many. Questions.  So today, I'm going to start by telling you about my career, and how I got here.

Growing Up

Despite the five minutes that I wanted to be a veterinarian and the one time I told someone I wanted to be a fire fighter when I grew up, I always thought I would go into a career in the arts.  I was an active child, and I loved to create.  I was fortunate because my parents encouraged this behavior.  I took piano and ballet, and I loved to read.  As I got older and into my middle school, my career paths became more focused.  For the longest time, I wanted to be a Radio City Rockette, as I studied dance under a former Rockette.  I was involved in my school's daily news production, and I fell in love with broadcasting.  Following broadcasting, I decided that I wanted to be an actress.

There was never a point in my elementary or middle school days where I was considered "cool" or popular.  Eventually, I stopped trying to fit in.

High School


Right before my freshman year of high school, I started working with an agency.  The coaching that I received was extremely beneficial.  I learned how to control my strong Southern accent, I learned body language, and I learned how to communicate with people.  When I was going to have my headshots taken, my agency decided that I should shoot an actual portfolio.  I immediately felt like modeling was a better fit for me than acting, and while I never really viewed modeling as a career path, I viewed it as something that would take me to the next step in my career.  I eventually signed with a Miami based agency, and I was so fascinated by my agent.  She was fiery and feisty, had bright red hair, and spoke with a thick Italian accent.  I knew I wanted to be just like her when I grew up, so much so that when I was accepted into a high school leadership program, I submitted "talent agent" as my career choice.  (There were none of those in my area to job shadow, so I job shadowed someone in HR... and quickly realized I had no desire to be in HR.)

The summer before my senior year of highschool, I became extremely ill, eventually learning that I had a chronic illness.  This experience really inspired me to want to go into the medical field.  Science was never my strong point, but I was determined to be good at it so that I could help others the way my specialist and nurses had taken care of me.  I eventually decided that I wanted to be a nurse with goals of becoming nurse practitioner.


College




But then I took an A&P class in college and realized really quickly that nursing was not my path.  I still wanted to be in the medical field, so I studied Special Education with the intent of becoming an Occupational Therapist.  But I had a horrible teacher who taught all of the special ed classes, and I knew it just wasn't going to work out for me.

At the end of my sophomore year of college, I was so depressed because I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.  I had always had huge aspirations and wanted to save the world, but I was lost.  I went to the career center, took aptitude tests, you name it. My parents even suggested that maybe I take a little time off from school and work retail full time until I figured it out.  I started having this overwhelming desire to be a lawyer.  So my dad came into town, we sat down at a Starbucks, and we charted out my course schedule of pre-law classes for the next two years.  I declared business as a major with a concentration in legal studies, and I loved it, y'all!  I had never felt as passionate about something as I had my legal studies classes.  I would talk about torts with anyone who would listen.  When I was diagnosed with cancer, I made the decision to stay in school because I was so focused on getting to law school.  When I think about things that really helped me through my battle with cancer, legal studies was one of those things because it was the perfect distraction and something concrete in a very abstract time in my life.

While in college, a sorority sister of mine helped me get an events internship at my local Chamber of Commerce.  It was absolutely perfect because I graduated in December, would start the internship at the end of December, and would intern for about six weeks.  I planned to start law school in the fall, so the internship was the perfect opportunity to save a little money!


Post-Grad



I loved being an intern so much that it wasn't even funny.  When my events internship was over, I was asked to stay on as an intern for another department, and I jumped at the opportunity.  The thing I loved most about being an intern was learning.  Sure, it wasn't fun to constantly clean up catering or cover switchboard on occasion, but then there were moments where I had opportunities that I never would have had otherwise, and those made it worth it.

While I was working my second internship, a job position became available, and I was encouraged to apply for it.  At this point, I had been rejected by my top law school, realized my second choice wasn't going to give me a dime, and had missed out on a full ride to my third choice by one point on the LSAT.  After lots of thought and prayer, I decided that if offered the job, I would accept it and put law school off for a bit.  I was offered the job in small business development, and I took it.

To be really honest, I didn't love my job at first.  There was a learning curve, and I was terrified of my boss.  I kept telling myself I just had to make it a year.  But six months in, I hit my stride.  By the time I hit the one year mark at my job, my boss trusted me enough to handle all aspects of the business trainings we offered.  I also helped small business owners with social media strategies.  I had been attracted to medicine and law because I saw jobs in those career fields as ways to help people.  When I started to form relationships and see results with small business owners, I realized just how rewarding my job was, and I truly fell in love with it.  I come from a long line of small business owners - my family that came over from Italy had a farm, my great grandfather owned a blacksmith shop, my papaw owns a welding business, and my mom and mamaw owned a preschool - and that really fueled my passion, as well.

In the middle of one of our training sessions, I received a call from the CEO of an economic development organization in our area.  He had a job opening, and he wanted to interview me.  While I was absolutely in love with my job, I took the interview out of respect.  I had no intention of leaving my job.  But after the interview, I knew I had to take it.  I finished out one last event, took the LSAT on a Monday, and submitted my two weeks that Tuesday.  While I was terrified to leave, I knew that I had to do so in order to continue growing and learning.


Current



Which leads to where I am now - I work in marketing for the economic development organization (sometimes called an EDO) that represents the county I live in and a neighboring county.  All EDO's are different, but we focus on recruiting primary jobs to our community and supporting our existing industries.  The marketing that I do is pretty broad - I handle internal communications, work to promote the positive things going on in the communities I represent, and also work to promote my organization so that companies are aware that we exist and will send us leads.

I had no idea just how hard it would be working in economic development, but knowing that I'm helping to put food on the table for families in my communities makes it all worth it.  I truly think that economic development is what I will spend the rest of my career doing.  If you're unsure of what you want to do and enjoy a fast-paced environment, doing something a little different every day, traveling on occasion, and feeling like you're making a difference, I highly encourage you to do a little digging into careers in economic development.



Shew, that was a long post, so if you read all the way through, I applaud you!  If you have any questions or want to talk about anything you read in this post, leave me a comment or shoot me an email... I'm always happy to talk career with y'all!

And now it's time for my favorite part - I'd love to hear from you!  Tell me about your job (or about the career field that you hope to go into) in the comments!


22 comments:

  1. Reading about your career aspirations was so interesting! I think there is this idea that everyone knows what they want to be from the time they are 18 and just works towards that but in reality it is so common to grow and evolve. I know I have changed my mind about what I want to do as I've gained more experience and perspective. It's so important that we allow ourselves to change paths and open our eyes to new opportunities!

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  2. I loved reading your career story. I am in the phase where I have no freaking clue what to do with my life and my career. I'm just torn, confused and ready to throw in the towel. I am very thankful to have built my blog and found friends in the Millennial Blogger Network to help me distract me from all of this confusion. I wish you nothing but continued success and much, much continual learning :)

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  3. How wonderful! As of right now, I am a cashier for a local pizza place while I attend school for a dual major in Medical Assisting and Medical Front Office. Once my little boy starts school (within the next 2 years) I plan to go back to school for my RN. I'd love to go even farther but I'm taking it one step at a time. It's so fulfilling when you find something you love.

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  4. I've been all over the board too, and have ended up at a Chamber with economic development dreams for the future! Great post.
    xoxo,
    Piper Ellice @ piperellice.com
    Starting out Southern blog

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  5. I really loved reading this post. College through the first few years post grad is such a tulmultuous time and I don't think people talk about it enough. Loved learning more about your path!

    xo, Maddy
    http://cassidylou.com/

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  6. Wow I really enjoyed reading this post! Careers like yours aren't quite so well-known as doctor, teacher, lawyer, vet, etc. and sometimes I wonder if there's a less obvious career choice that'd be the perfect fit for me. Are you still thinking about attending law school at some point?

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  7. So happy to get to call an inspiring woman like you my friend!! I love how your motivations were always to help people in no matter what field you worked in. You are now doing exactly what you are meant to do- and I can't wait to see what big things you'll do in your future. You may have inspired me to write a post like this about my college experiences!

    xoxo A
    www.southernbelleintraining.com

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  8. Wow it's crazy all of the fields you went through! I'm glad that you were able to find somewhere that feels right to you. Reading this made me feel more at ease about not having everything all figured out just yet. I have time!

    Caitlyn | www.collegewithcaitlyn.com

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  9. Oh man this sounds SO similar to me! I was beyond all over the place and had some heavy stuff happen to me in high school/college years that constantly led to major shifts and self discovery. I wanted to be an actor, then a model, then a movie director or producer, then a pharmacist or physicians assistant, then a baker, then a PR person, then a psychologist, then a psychotherapist, and eventually it led me to being a blogger and business coach! Haha

    Rachel | www.theconfusedmillennial.com

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  10. This was so interesting to read, you're definitely an inspiration to me! Even though I'm still in high school, I've wanted to be an elementary school teacher as long as I can remember!

    xoxo,
    Katie
    chicincarolina.blogspot.com

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  11. Wow, I had no idea all of the different career paths you were interested in! Such a broad span, but I loved hearing how you got where you are today. I had no idea what I wanted to do for the longest time but I couldn't be happier with where I'm (hopefully!) headed.

    Kayla | kaylablogs.com

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  12. Thank you SO much for sharing your journey with us, because I know it's something that everyone struggles with at one point or another! I totally thought I was going to be an event planner when I first entered college, but I changed my mind and felt clueless. I was depressed and anxious most of the time, which is actually what led me to psych and now a masters in social work. It just takes time and some trial and error!

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  13. Wow quite the comprehensive experience you've had at such a young age! I loved my internships as well. The real world can be hard and I hope to one day soon find my dream career!

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  14. Girl I love how ambitious you are and how much you love to learn. Thanks for sharing your story with us!

    Greta | www.gretahollar.com

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  15. I loved this post! It was so great getting to know more about you and what you do!

    Kristin
    The Blush Blonde

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  16. Careers are scary. I graduate in December and have only just thought about applying for jobs! I'm at a crossroads too in my career path. It was really helpful to read this and know that at graduation, I most likely won't be alone!!

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  17. This is such a great idea for a post! I think very few people know exactly what they want to do and get there on a straight line. It sounds like you've found a good fit but, hey, who knows where you'll be in a few years, right? Who knows where any of us will be??

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  18. I loved reading this and how far you've come! My career has also come a a long way! I've been all over the place honestly haha. Now, I'm doing web development and email programming and love it!

    xo // www.thematerialgirl.co

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  19. Girl, this is such an aspiring post! You are amazing and so inspiring. I still haven't completed my degree (changed my major three times...oops). But I hope to be finished in three semesters and be onto my dream career. Thanks so much for sharing this! I feel like I can relate to someone :)

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  20. Wow, I adore this post. What a great way to show your story. You have come so far, and you have so much to be proud of. I'm definitely similar in that I tried a few different paths before landing where I am today.

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  21. I love reading about career paths so this was interesting to me. Bloggers rarely talk about their full time jobs and most just quit and focus on blogging instead so I'm so happy that you juggle both because that's what I want to do!

    -Ruya
    sweetshortandstylish.com

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