Lessons I’ve Learned While Changing Careers

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Media Mogul. I wrote the words on a yellow post it, with a black sharpie and pasted it on my bed frame so I could be reminded of my goal every day. But I was not moving towards that goal as an Executive Assistant to a financial tycoon on Wall Street. I was moving him towards his goal. It felt comfortable. I was safe. I was liked by everyone. I had job security. That was the scary part. The scary part is that they always thought I would be there. That I would be content in my role for the rest of my life. That I wouldn’t think more of myself. Or that I didn’t think more of myself. That I didn’t have the same goals as the CEO of the company. That when I sat in his chair while he wasn’t in the office, it felt comfortable, like I deserved to be in the corner office too. But I would never become what I wanted to be in the financial world. I knew it early on that it wasn’t for me. The greed. The money hungriness. The conservatives. The biases. The glass ceilings. The white collars. The suits and slicked black hair. The façade. The boredom. The numbers. The yelling and screaming. The perfectionism. The micro- aggressions. The lack of women or minorities in “the room.” It just wasn’t for me. And yet I stayed and endured for 5-years. 1,825 days. During that time, my emotions were filled with ups and downs. At first, I was excited to even have a job. Then I realized there was nothing to be excited about-Then I had to humble myself-Then I was promoted and was excited again-Then I realized I wasn’t being paid enough. I should’ve been making more doing the caliber of work that was required of me. I kept the office going. I kept everyone sane. I was a perfectionist, even if it meant staying at work until 9pm. I did more than what was required of me. I worked long and hard. I waited for my boss to ask me “What do you want to do with your life?” I wanted him to invest in my future just as much as I invested in his. But the question never came and the reality hit me that it was time to move on.

Lesson #1: It’s so important to have a boss that knows your goals and pushes you to get there. It’s important to have a boss who doesn’t want to see you doing the same thing in 10-years but wants to see you grow. It’s important to have a boss that believes enough in you to include you. A supportive boss can do wonders for your career. Be weary of the ones that are not. 

If my boss wouldn’t mentor me then someone else would have to. Eventually, I found just the person. A woman and a lawyer. She had a successful legal career in the financial sector and when she started at my company we bonded over our shared Pisces astrological sign. This woman saw something in me and pushed me like no other. She made sure I applied to jobs every chance I got and took me out on lunch dates to encourage me. I never had a mentor before and I soon realized God was saving someone special for me when I needed her the most.

Lesson #2 I used to be jealous of people with mentors because I never had one. What was wrong with me that no one wanted to be my mentor? But a mentor is not a fairy godmother. They’re not going to just appear. I had to “court” my mentor. A few weeks after meeting her, I asked if she would take a walk with me to tell me about herself and I would do the same. She said yes, and the rest was history. I realized she would be a perfect mentor after our walk. But I had to take the initiative and make the first step in building our relationship.

So as I prepared to change careers, there was one more kick that happened that pushed me like no other. When I say push, I mean set the fire in my back. That was me finding out what others were making in my same position. I won’t say how but I did. I also confirmed this by simply googling the average for what someone in my position should be making compared to what I was making. It amazed me that I could work so hard and still not be paid for the work I was doing. But I didn’t speak up. My boss and I had a relationship where I revered him like a father almost. I didn’t know how to confront him about my pay so I just wallowed in my misery. I was literally taunted by it at least twice a month. He paid for my lunch and I received bonuses but that didn’t count when my salary was not where it should’ve been. I needed to make the move. But first I had to decide was this really about money? Or was I seeking a job that I was passionate about?

Lesson Three: Money or Passion? I applied for a hedge fund in the midst of my fury and got an interview. I later declined the interview. I made a decision to myself a long time ago that I would not sell my soul for money, my salary, or material things. My career would have to make me happy and would not feel like work. It would feel like I am just doing what I loved. So yes, I declined an interview for a job that started at 115k because it was just like the job I had, maybe even worst. For some people, even some friends, they would call me crazy but that’s what separates me from a lot of people. My happiness far outweighs my salary pursuits. My next job would just have to make me happy and pay me what I deserved!

I needed the motivation to apply to jobs consistently. Job-hunting is really tedious. I tried everything, including using spreadsheets, keeping track of what I already applied to and what I didn’t apply to. I applied to jobs every-Thursday bi-weekly from January to August. I remained consistent. If Thursday was a day where I had an event, then it was pushed to Friday or the weekend but I never stopped. I went on Linkedin and searched for jobs on there too. Linkedin is really a powerhouse. I reread my resume and cover letter every other week, making adjustments as the months progressed. I didn’t hear from anyone and I began to get anxiety. At work, I was getting anxious and panicked. I hated my job and it was beginning to show.

Lesson Four: Stay Consistent!

It was in August that I received a call for an interview. During the interview process my side gigs came up a lot. I do a lot of things on the side in addition to a 9-5. I blog, podcast, produce, direct, read, volunteer etc. Never in a million years would I have guessed that these side projects would separate me from other candidates. Initially, I started them to fill a void that I was feeling at work. My work was unfulfilling to be honest. But then, it became a part of me. I’m a blogger. I’m a podcaster. I directed a documentary. All of these things shaped me into who I am and separated me from the pack. Some people look down on side projects. They call it mere hobbies. They say it’s not worth your time and to focus solely on your 9-5. But I disagree. Your 6 to 10 hustle is what you can call your own. Your baby. Your passion project. Your unique vision that will exalt you into your destiny. Its these projects that takes me one step closer to my dream and ultimately landed me a position at my dream company because a couple of months later, I got the job!

Lesson Five: Passion projects/6-10 hustles, are so important. I’ve had people question why I spend my time doing what I do. I had people doubt my side projects. I’ve had people who I couldn’t reveal any news on these projects to because they didn’t understand. I’ve had people question why I would ever work for an up and coming travel platform for black millennia’s for free? I’ve had people question why I would ever volunteer my time as a Sunday School teacher from 7am-3pm without pay? I’ve had people question all of my ventures and I never cared. It will take some people longer than others to discover their passions and destinies. Some may always be too afraid to uncover it. But I don’t want to ever live my life that way. Never underestimate an idea that you have in your heart or a talent that you haven’t uncovered since childhood. It may be the key to finding purpose in your career.

I say this all to say, figuring out what you want to do in life is hard work. Gaining the courage to leave a secure job for a career in an totally different industry is scary. But you’ll never know if  success is waiting for you on the other side of the door if you don’t try. We have to believe in ourselves enough to know that we will be successful and that our lives will have purpose. We have to catch ourselves when we are secure and complacent and push ourselves for more.

Protect Your Destiny

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Were you offended by his question? My friend asked me this one Friday evening while we were catching up. Just to give you some backstory, a few weeks prior, I went out with a group of my friends to a cool spot in Bedstuy called  Lover’s Rock, which gives off all types of Love Jones vibes.

We didn’t see each other for a while so we sat around our table and caught up. The friend that was doing all of the questioning, asked me “So what are you doing, career wise? What are your next steps…?” That’s when the conversation got awkward. If you know anything about me, I am not one to talk about everything that I am doing. I’m also not one to count my chickens before they hatch. So was it so bad when I said “Sorry I can’t share with you…”
This response piqued his interest further because he continued to pry. I held on tightly to my original sentiments…”No!”
 Maybe it came off weird to everyone at the table. Maybe you’re also thinking what’s the big deal? But sometimes when you are dealing with something as huge and significant as your destiny and what you’re going to do with the rest of your life it has to remain between you and God until the time is right. I could’ve created an elaborate story of dreams and goals and everything my “inner” heart desired for conversation sake, but what  good would that do? I’m in a season of transition, so it’s vital for me to be still and wait on God. Therefore, until the changes God has for me are revealed, I can’t be rambling to every and anyone about my plans because some people, even the ones that are closest to you may not understand and quite frankly, it’s not meant for them to. As Sarah Jakes said “Your destiny is not a democracy.”
I say this all to say, protect your destiny. Everyone doesn’t have the right to know what’s between you and God because it’s between you and God. Your destiny is not up for conversation or discussion. Be still and let God direct your life because he will reveal the perfect time for you to shine and give you peace in your heart for the people you should actually reveal these revelations to.

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Tunnel Vision.

Look to the left of you. Now look to the right of you. Sometimes, in life we get caught up looking at what’s going on with everyone else and not focusing on us, which is the path straight ahead. I’ve always prided myself on being the type of person with tunnel vision. I’ve never wanted to follow what others were doing and always tried to remain true to who I was. However, lately I’ve been feeling lost. I feel as if life is just moving and I’m still trying to figure it all out. I look at the people on social media, and the people who I interact with in my everyday life and it’s just a lot going on. From the multiple degrees to the wedding engagements and marriages, it can sometimes feel like you’re doing something wrong because these things are not happening for you.

Recently I saw a Brittany Spears meme, coming to an understanding with her breakdown at 26-years old. You remember that break down; she shaved her head and was running through the streets with a umbrella. Although I am not feeling that overwhelmed, I understand the pressures of the world and how consuming figuring out your life can be.

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So what can we do?

Focus on you, is often the answer that we hear, but that’s easier said than done. I do believe in tunnel vision however. I believe that you should figure out what you want in life and create an intricate blue print of how you will get there. Be realistic as well. There are going to be ups and downs so we have to be conscious of the setbacks and the triumphs. Furthermore, I believe you should never succumb to comparing yourself to others. We all are unique, we all are born at different times, we all have separate journeys for a reason and the minute we try to compete with others we’ve already failed.

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Alternative Ways of Networking

NETWORKING.jpgI love people but I can’t bring myself to walk up to someone randomly and introduce myself . Because networking is such an important tool to develop in your career, I had to discover alternative ways of networking where I can meet people and still be true to myself by attending conferences, working for others and social media i.e. Twitter and Facebook groups just to name a few. Check out my latest podcast.

https://soundcloud.com/lifestylebyky/alternative-ways-of-networking

Being Still…

 

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You ever feel like you have so much going on in your life that you barely make time for one-on-one  with God? That was me a few months ago.It wasn’t like I completely ignored my time with him, but I was juggling too much and not giving him enough of me.

Fast forward a few months later and now I have all the time in the world to spend with him because I am now still. Listening to him. Waiting on his call for my life.  Find out what changed so drastically in my latest podcast.

 

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My Top 15 Moments in 2015

  1. My Vision Board Party

I think having a Vision Board party in January set the tone for an amazing year. I still get comments from my friends saying their vision boards helped them check off goals on their list that they probably wouldn’t of done without the help of their boards reminding them. My board is still something that empowers me when I look at it. I am encouraged to remain strong willed and grounded.

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  1. Dubai

That glitch fare on Christmas day last year allowed me to go to Dubai for only $200. What a blessing that was. Dubai’s desert was probably my favorite part. That vast landscape of beautiful sand and horizon is something that will forever be embedded in my heart.

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I wore my natural hair to work for the first time…

I wore my natural hair to work for the first time and it felt awesome! Some people might be surprised that it took 4-years for me to wear my natural hair to work but getting the courage to do so was a journey in it self.

I started my natural journey in 2011, and it has been a very long four years since then. Sometimes, I can’t believe it’s been that long. My hair journey is complicated. To give you the short version of the story, I big chopped when I was about to graduate from Penn State, wore wigs for 2-years and then during the summer of 2013 I got so sick of wearing a wig every day, I decided to wear my natural hair on the weekends(Baby steps).

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The beautiful summer day in 2013 when I decided I would start wearing my natural hair, but only under one condition–during the weekends ONLY!

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New Beginnings

This fall, I finally listened to the voice in my head that told me I should give TV Writing a try. I’ve always heard the voice but didn’t think I was capable of actually writing my own show. The TV Writing omens came to me a few times in my life, some of which I list below:

  • I’ve watched TV all my life, why wouldn’t I want to know the mechanics of writing an actual show?
  • I’ll never forget when my sister (she might not remember this) told me that a 23-year old Lena Dunham created the hit show on HBO called Girls. She was only a few years older than me; I was so intrigued by her accomplishments.
  • Reserved. I was challenged one day by one of the hosts who didn’t understand how we could have a talk show without a script. Well unbeknownst to me at the time, I thought on talk shows you just talked freely. Didn’t the script make it scripted? What I would soon learn is everything including talk shows have scripts.
  • My friend Stephen sent me his script to read that he co-wrote with a friend from college. Tribeca Film Festival was very interested in the script as well. He probably doesn’t know but after reading his script, I wanted to write my own. His bravery and talent inspired me.
  • The American Black Film Festival (ABFF), this year made me realize I can write for TV.  I honestly went to the film festival blindly and had no intention of script writing but I left feeling inspired by the stories of Mara Brock Akil and the writers of Empire. I knew I needed to start my own TV writing journey, so I did.

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While at ABFF, I kept hearing people talking about Spec Scripts. Spec Sripts? What the heck was that? I googled it and learned that a spec script was something you need to break into the industry. It’s a script that allows you to speculate what might happen on a TV show that’s currently running. Mara Brock Akil mentioned if you want to write, you have to go to LA. So two weeks later, I packed my bags up and went to LA. I told my friend to drop me off at a place where I could write and she dropped me off at a cute writing cafe in NOHO called Republic of Pie

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I wrote in LA, but I did not write my Spec Script. I wrote ideas for a script but I didn’t have the slightest idea how to write a script. I put my TV Writing dreams on the back burner for the rest of the summer.

Around October, I was going through a lot of changes at work and in life. So I took a break from social media and from watching TV just to clear my head a bit. I was litrally in my room sitting in silence, reading my bible, when something told me to google Script Writing Classes. Gotham was one of the first options that came up on the list, but they seemed a bit pricey, so I continued looking. What I ended up finding out was Gotham was the best bet, the other options were either too expensive or not as extensive as Gotham, so I went with them. I decided to invest in my future and let me tell you, it felt awesome! But I didn’t purchase my seat in the class just yet. I was still going back and forth about the price. I would have to take out of my savings to do this class, was it worth it? I asked God to give me confirmation that I was making the right decision and sure enough he did.

The next day at work my cell phone which has a picture of me at Runyon Canyon in LA, with my exercising clothes on was sitting on my desk. Now you know how tight and provocative exercising clothes tend to be, but on top of that my pose was very…i’ll leave the picture below so you can see for yourself. My boss passed by my desk and picked up my phone to see the picture, I grabbed the phone before he was able to see too much, mortified at the prospects of him seeing me in that light, he made light of the situation by saying “What were you doing…yoga?” and walked away. I wanted to crawl under a rock. Why does these awkward moments always have to happen to me? Its really unbelievable how weird my life is. At that moment I knew my wildly awkward life experiences could serve as inspiration for a character I could create. That was all the confirmation I needed. Three minutes later I dug into my savings account and signed up for my first TV Writing course.

 

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This was the picture from Runyon Canyon that was on my phone . I never thought about how  awkward it would be if someone from my very corporate job saw me like this…yikes!

The class was amazing. I am so impressed with everything that I learned and all the advice I received. I also learned how to write a Spec Script (finally) and handed in my first draft last week. I felt so accomplished. The class gave me amazing feedback and now I have to make the script better and resubmit it. The work doesn’t end at the end of the class. It will probably take me a year to create a portfolio for TV Writing but I am excited. I juggled this class, while juggling many changes at work. I followed my heart, not knowing where it would lead me but I am happy it’s led me in the right direction. I feel peace when I’m at my TV Writing class. I feel like I have an outlet to be me, and I am surrounded by other people just like me. I truly believe the moral of this story is follow your passions. Discover what you love. I know this may or may not be my career path, but I don’t care, I am content in knowing that I’ve learned a new craft and fell in love with it. I thank Mara Brock Akil for giving me that inspiration at ABFF. I thank Shonda Rhimes for running Thursdays on ABC and paving the way for up and coming writers like myself. I thank God for having his hand on my life and leading me to discovering my purpose each day.

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Finishing up my first draft Spec Script

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Why I jumped off the Career Assembly Line

For the first time in a long time, I feel good about the direction God is leading my life in terms of my career. To be honest, I’ve fought it for a long time, and for the most part kept what I do a bit private, for the obvious reasons of professionalism, but what I am about to share needs to be written down, not only to help myself understand God’s plan but also to help and inspire others. Right now, with a new year looming towards us, I am reflecting on the growth I’ve made in my life and I am happy with it. This year has not been easy, it was filled with a lot of changes, some that I feared initially, but I am so excited for what’s to come, more so than previous years. The title of this post is called “Why I jumped off the Career Assembly Line.” I picked up a book recently, at Urban Outfitters (they have an eclectic book collection), and read a passage that talked about Assembly Lines in terms of your career.

Assembly lines, if you’re not familiar with the term, is a process by which things are progressively made in parts or work stations that add on to a sequence until the final assembly is produced. It reminds me of the car company Ford, which built their cars using the assembly line in the early 1900s. One station was in charge of putting the wheels on the car, the next station was in charge of placing the doors on the car, and so on and so on until finally the car was made. But the idea here is that the process is monotonous, ongoing, and straightforward. No change can happen or else the car won’t be identical to the others. The same can be said for my life (career wise), until I decided I didn’t want to be on the assembly line anymore.

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The first time I made a drastic choice in my career, and decided I would jump off of the assembly line, commenced while I was in college. I started school as a journalism major and by my sophomore year switched to pursue a pre-law/political science degree. It was a huge decision, one that I still question, although I know why I did it. Journalism was my passion. I love to write; I can’t shake that trait about me, it’s a God given gift but my family wanted me to pursue a more stable career, so they told me, I should become a lawyer. I listened to them. I wanted to please them and so I did just that. I spent the rest of my college career, writing legal briefs, studying Constitutional Law in the library, and constantly on Lexis Nexis researching. As intriguing as the legal system was, I knew it was not for me. I didn’t get excited; I got anxiety. Literal anxiety. Now, as I reflect, I think it was a mix of knowing I was doing something unaligned with my purpose and being stressed by the course load.

My turning point came around the time when I started looking to pursue law school. I started visiting legal college advisors for some advice and direction on my decision to go to Law School. One asked me, “Law school is for people who’s really passionate about the law, why do you want to go to law school?” I gave a politically correct answer to save face, but deep down in my soul, I knew I was being fake. I wasn’t passionate about going to law school or the legal system, I was just trying to please the ones I loved most. One time I was asked this same question by another legal college advisor and I told her I wanted to help women as a lawyer. She followed up by saying “You do know you can help women without going to law school right? Besides, what do you do now to help women? Your resume shows you haven’t done anything since last year, while you were still in college.” She called me out and she was right. That day on the train ride home, I was excited that this woman had the balls to call me on my bluff because I knew, my life would change. I could do many great things in my career without going to law school, but how would I break the news?

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The day of my induction ceremony into the Legal Honor Society/Fraternity Phi Alpha Delta at Penn State

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The Pressure

Oh the pressure! Maybe its me, maybe it’s them but the pressure exists. The older I get the more I realize I have to try and wean out that pressure in my life. Some people are not meant to be placed in a box and I am one of those people. I feel anxiety when people tell me I can’t fulfill my dreams because it’s not lucrative or won’t make me a million dollars. I also feel that same feeling of not being able to breathe when someone tells me what I should be doing as opposed to what I am currently doing.

I am a creative. I am at my happiest place when I am doing what I love. I am not where I want to be yet, but I believe every single thing I am doing with my life is what I always wanted to do. I have a board in my room and it lists my strengths. Under strengths it says Human Rights/Human Trafficking/Women Issues, Writing/Blogging/Websites, and Fashion Styling. Yes, fashion styling was something I always wanted to do on the side as a hobby but I never ventured into it for some reason. On the other side of the board it has travel and a list of places I would love to visit for the year and then finally there’s a list of my ultimate dreams and goals in life. I use this as a source of inspiration. When the year started I told myself I wanted to be bold and consistent. When I look back on the first half of 2015, I’ve definitely been more bold and I’ve tried to be consistent. I manage my Reserved website and blog on both my travel and lifestyle blog. This summer I will release a documentary that I’ve worked on for the past year dealing with human trafficking/prostitution. I’ve also shared some of my projects on social media which is huge and something I still struggle being comfortable with.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that this is only the beginning and will get better from here. Maya’s video gave me hope. She talks about her “come up,” and how God has blessed her life in so many ways. I am happy she created this video because it serves as a major source of inspiration for my journey as well.

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