My first day at work, I walked into my first client in Houston, an Oil and Gas company where we were helping with a new technology implementation. It was a bunch of men on my project, in fact out of 15 of us, I was the only woman. My manager was a partner who was based out of Chicago and left his wife and four children every week to travel to Houston. I immediately thought I never want to be him. In fact, I hated every day at work. I did not like technology, I did not have any passion around oil and gas, and I definitely did not like working 80 hours a week. I felt trapped. After about a year of doing this, and sacrificing time with my family and friends, I knew I had to change. My roommate at the time was moving to San Francisco and I thought, why not, what do I have to lose. I quit my job, sold all my furniture, and packed my bags with no job and no idea what was next.
I arrived in San Francisco and started applying to companies that I was interested in their product. Luckily, I landed a job at the corporate offices of Gap as a merchandise planner – I do love shopping! I learned a ton and worked around really interesting people, but I was still not excited to go to work every day and I knew there was something more for me out there. After spending 4 years in San Francisco, I decided to go back and get my MBA, basically because I still did not know what I wanted to do but I knew that I really wanted to be an entrepreneur and own my own business one day so I thought, why not!
After graduating from UT with an MBA in marketing and entrepreneurship, I started working in technology and started my climb up the corporate ladder. I was good at it and I continued to excel. I was fortunate enough to land a job at a fast-growing start-up just a few months before their IPO. It was exciting! I was sitting in meetings with the founders who would actually ask my opinion and I had a voice at the table I had never had before. Eventually I was managing a global team of about 10 product marketers. The company got purchased by another large global travel company and things changed. They brought in their leadership, the company culture turned bad, and I was losing my voice. I started questioning this ladder that I had worked so hard to climb. I looked up at the executive team and thought, I don’t want to be them, so where am I headed and what is next. Why am I continuing to work 60+ hours a week and sacrificing time with my husband and three young children. As my friend Vanessa Loder has said, I had climbed the wrong ladder!
I decided to leave this company with no idea what I was going to do next. I wanted to spend more time with my children as they were getting older fast, but I also knew that I would not be comfortable with just staying at home. I was too ambitious and thrive on learning new things, meeting new people and accomplishment. I was out at dinner with some friends and one of them was a technology recruiter and she asked if I have ever thought of tech recruiting. My immediate response was no, I had no experience in recruiting. She responded that I understand technology and I am good with people. Well, I had nothing to lose. I looked at my job criteria and it seemed to check the boxes: continually learning new things and new industries, working with people, and flexibility to spend time with my family.
I started recruiting and realized for the first time in my life, I was “in flow”. It didn’t seem like a job. I loved talking to candidates about their desires for their career, what they liked and did not like about previous jobs, the type of culture they thrive in, what motivates them, what their best skills are, and understanding their check boxes. I also loved working with the hiring managers to understand more about what they are looking for in a good employee, what makes an employee successful, and understanding their culture. It was match making at the end of the day and it was fun. I felt a sense of purpose. I could help people find jobs they love and help companies find great employees that would be happy and stay. It didn’t feel like work and I started waking up excited to work every day, but it didn’t feel like work.
Start to think about what you have liked and have not liked about previous jobs. Where are your passions and what are the check boxes that you want out of your career and how would you prioritize them? Is it a good income, work/life balance, purpose, culture, continued learning or career acceleration? Whatever it is, spend the time to think of it and don’t be afraid to look up and down on the ladder you are on and think about whether it is the right ladder. If you get on the right ladder, you will start to realize that you can have something that drives passion and interest and when you are finally in flow, you will be more successful than ever before because everybody around you will see your flow and it is contagious. Don’t be afraid to pivot. There is never a good time other than now.