Yours Truly, Desperate for a Career Change

Every once in a while, I get an email from readers seeking advice. Recently, I got this message from a young mother of two (and wife), living in Atlanta. Her name is Nicole.

As you’ll soon read, this young professional is at a crossroads, and as I’ve shared in my own personal career challenges here, I can completely understand her dilemma. With her permission, today, I’m sharing her story with you all. Afterward, is my advice to her.

But here’s the thing, I want you to weigh in in the comments section below.

What advice would you give based on the information she’s provided here in the following (unedited) email?

I stumbled upon your website as I was searching for ways to get into career planning for teens. I have been a high school teacher for over ten years and am desperately trying to leave the profession. My challenge is that my husband’s income won’t sustain a lesser one from me right now, I only have a BA and certification in DISC Personality Assessment, and I have two small children.I have been accepted into grad school for a MA in Mental Health and School Counseling, but can’t figure out how to do the program online right now with my schedule. I fall out each night after putting the kids to bed (my husband works nights), but am trying to work a plan that will allow me to work from home and maybe part-time outside of the home come Fall 2011.

I really need to make more income now, and my goal by March/April is to be doing something where I do not have to sign a contract for the 2011-2012 school year. I am looking into side businesses or entirely new careers now, and trying to figure out how I can begin them now.I have planned many events over the years and am good at it, so I’m thinking about going into event planning. I have a passion for youth development, so I’m considering career counseling/guidance and college planning for teens.I’m considering selling Nu Skin, a product that regenerates cell and fights aging through skincare products and supplements (multi-level marketing).

I also recently realized that I really am a good writer – I got a perfect score on the writing portion of the GRE, and have thought about blogging so as to lead to publishing and book and/or article-writing.

I also have written raps while teaching Social Studies and am considering recording, packaging, and marketing them to educational companies. I’m praying for God’s will and direction in this and am practically begging him to make a way. My son is 20 months and my daughter is 5. I really want to be more free to be with them.

There’s lots I could do, but I need something that won’t take too much time right now and that is practical and will earn hopefully a minimum of $30,000 (ideally $50,000) a year.

Any tips you have are much appreciated! Thanks!

Here’s an edited excerpt from my initial response to her:

It sounds like you’ve got a lot of ideas floating around in your head. You first must decide what you’re BEST at. And what you really enjoy doing. If you take a job merely for the purpose of trying to get out of a job that you dislike right now, you’ll likely find yourself right back in another job that you really dislike. Therefore, don’t jump ship unless you’re certain of what you want to do next. Be wise. In this economy, we can’t afford to just up and leave a job without putting some realistic, tangible goals in place.

I went on to explain that, based on my own previous experience working with a similar business model, that the Nu-Skin opportunity, might not be the right avenue if she’s determined to find a gig that could potentially rake in at least $30,000 a year. It’s certainly not impossible, I told her. However, starting in a service industry such as that, is much like starting a small business — it will require a lot of time and patience in the beginning, I said. And the amount of time she might expect to devote could very well steal her away from her family, rather than open up the ‘family-time’ floodgates.

Plus, selling beauty products requires great promotional, marketing and people skills, I said. I suggested she table that idea, and consider it, perhaps, as a fun side project when she has a more solid foundation.

I went on:

Your other ideas sound great. Securing writing gigs is certainly a great idea. You should consider applying to the Examiner. But keep in mind, these writers generally get paid based on how many people view their articles; it’s not salary-based. It boils down to having some compelling content. Also, blogging is a great platform. But again, this is another idea that most bloggers don’t make much, if any, money from.

However, blogging is a great way to build your platform and could lead to writing gigs and other opportunities down the road. Like other writing gigs, it will take work and persistence, and networking.

To me, it sounds like the grad school acceptance is the most promising route.

Lastly, I laid out some really practical guidelines and spiritual advice to get her on her way, and to help her narrow her career choices.

  1. Ask yourself : What do I want to accomplish in the next year or two?  What’s going to offer me the greatest return on my investment?
  2. Take out a sheet of paper and jot down the pros and cons of each of your ideas, staying honest with herself.
  3. Since she’s a Christian, I recommended she pray through her options and to ask God to make it very clear which route she should take.
  4. Lastly, I told her to be prepared and to have a Plan B, or be prepared to stay in her current job as a school teacher until something more promising introduces itself. Sometimes what we think we think we want to do (no, that’s not a typo), might not be what we ought to do at the present time.

Now, it’s your turn. What advice would you give? Share it in the comments section below!



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  • Karreecha Newby

    I think you gave her practical and sound wisdom. Every now and again, we all need a ‘sound board’ to bounce ideas off of. One thing I thought was very grounded was the reality that she shouldn’t just “jump ship” until she’s certain of what to do next”! Having a plan is priority. It could be devastating to make decisions on a ‘whim’ or “just” a bunch of ideas! Sometimes our frustrations are situational. Therefore, writing in/reaching out to the CP was key. I think it will be uphill from here on for her! I think she’s getting ready to maximize her potential! Oh, don’t forget FOCUS ON THE FAMILY!

    • Emily Brown

      Great advice, Karreecha! Love the part about focusing on the family. That’s probably one of the most important pieces of advice. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Mike


    You gave the writer great, sound advice! I couldn’t have put it any better myself. Allot of people are in her situation right now! Unhappy where they are & looking for a change. I totally agree with you about her seeking a job just to get out of a job & winding up in the same boat as she’s currently in. I’ve been down that road personally & it didn’t work out for me. The most important thing to told her was to pray about it. She should make her desires known to God & I’m believing that He will make a way for her & her family. I can honestly say that works. I’ll be starting my business in the next couple of months, but only after getting the go ahead from above. I’ll keep her & her family in my prayers.

    • Emily Brown

      Thanks for your input, Mike! Prayer is truly essential, particularly in a situation such as this.