This is the first guest post of the "Share Your Story" series (learn more about it here!). I'm excited to introduce you all to Sarah of Inspiration-Driven Life, a blogger friend and fellow writer.
I’d like to say my career transition started on the last day
of my first big girl job. I’d like to say I launched with the sunrise the next
day and it’s been fruitful ever since. And I wish I could detail every step I
If that were the story, it would involve much less
heartbreak and very little gut-wrenching, that’s for sure.
Just like the story
of a vacation begins when we pull our suitcase out of the closet and not when
the plane takes off, the story of any life transition really starts long before
the transition itself.
And so I suppose my
story starts in the spring of 2010, when I said yes to a once-in-a-lifetime man
who was down on one knee with a diamond. There was never a question about a
yes or no, because when you find a wonderful man, you grab him and keep him
close. But I did wonder what this meant for my career.
When I got engaged, I was knee-deep in a
stressful-yet-fantastic role in Development and Communications for a
non-profit, inner city high school. Because I had the chance to dip my toes in
multiple ponds, it was a wonderful first gig.
Mr. S. (my now-husband, then-fiancé) started grad school in
August 2010, states away from this wonderful first gig of mine. I knew relocation was on the horizon.
And so that season, I was planning our wedding remotely and connecting in
community however I could, soaking it up before the inevitable move. I also
scoured the job boards, networking as well as I could from a distance. A few leads, but no good fits.
That fall, I also
tentatively tip-toed into the world of consulting. A Kansas City friend and
colleague had invited me to help her behind-the-scenes in her college
admissions counseling business. I channeled my inner grammar ninja as I edited
dozens of admissions essays and offered critiques and suggestions . . . and the more I did, the more I loved it.
Today I look back and the answer to my feverish what-should-I-do-with-my-life is
obvious. Consulting and writing and
blending my multiple passions sounds like a natural fit. But it would take much more heartbreak
before I realized it.
Days before our wedding, friends helped me pack up my life
and ship the storage pod to Lafayette, Indiana.
The morning of January 1, 2011, I woke up crazy early and
edited an essay before I got ready for my wedding. Looking back, it was the
best decision I could have made. It was a professional victory on a day when
much seemed out of control.
reality of joblessness hit me hard. I stared at a pile of boxes in the
apartment I now shared with my husband of less than a week, and I found myself
facing so much new, and all at once. A new town, and a job search without
networking contacts to call on and without a community to lean on.
Sitting at home was
scary and lonely and above all, simply boring. In between bouts of online
job searching and unpacking and anxiety, I tried my hand at daytime TV
watching. My grandma had been an All My Children devotee for decades, after
all. And yet I couldn’t get into a single daytime soap opera. Clearly television preferences aren’t
Passive job searching was doing me no good. And the jobs I
applied for were less than enticing. When I fell for one of those Craigslist
“remote assistant” ads, that was the final straw. I knew where my passions and
abilities intersected: the nonprofit field. With
a little help from the United Way’s database, I fired off 60-ish emails.
Each little email was a big leap of faith. I introduced
myself and offered to do everything I’d done at my old job for free, as a
volunteer. Why? Because one more day of
sitting in this house – and staring at daytime soaps -- may have broken my
From those 60 emails came one precious response that very
afternoon. It was from the Volunteer Coordinator at the Red Cross, inviting me
to their office. Armed with a handful of business cards printed on my
circa-2005 printer on Hobby Lobby cardstock, I gathered my gumption.
I walked in to meet not just the Volunteer Coordinator, but
the Development Director and Executive Director as well.
I left, by grace
alone, with a contract job. A consultant role, just like the role I played
as an essay editor. Familiar, right?
I treasured the Red Cross job, and yet I knew it was just
for a season. When the yearly fundraising campaign was over, my time as a
consultant would be too. So although I was gainfully employed, and no longer
slave to the daytime soaps, the job search never really ended.
January became February and February became March. Those who
I met while networking typically said they had no position for me, or weren’t
hiring at the time. But smaller projects? Sure.
Writing opportunities? Absolutely.
I’ll never forget meeting the business manager of a growing
IT company. She was my first local client
and, through her, I met dozens of other local professionals. Through the power
of networking and a few crossed fingers, I was able to find more writing
opportunities. Every project was a privilege, a chance to fall in love with
communications all over again.
As the Red Cross position wrapped up, I applied for an open
job in membership and fundraising at a local art museum. The job description fit me perfectly, and yet to submit my application
was to take a leap of faith. This role was only 20 hours a week. So to
apply for this job meant I’d take my freelance writing and consulting to a new
level. Working on both fronts could make
ends meet, and yet it was scary to take this step.
Just hours after my interview at the Museum, I accepted the
position. So I suppose, in a way, that day was also the day I launched
Inspiration-Driven Communication, my freelance writing and consulting business
serving nonprofits, small businesses and entrepreneurs.
Today, I’ve been
balancing my own business and my museum position for well over a year. And
yes, it’s a balancing act, but one I will never regret. One thing is for
certain: there as been nothing business-as-usual about it. I’ve had the
privilege of playing a role in building better businesses, creating stronger communities,
painting word stories, strengthening teams and using the best words for the
As any entrepreneur will tell you, finding clients and
building contacts and spreading the word is no easy feat. Any entrepreneur will
also tell you it’s a journey of many teary nights.
Yet I don’t regret a
minute of it.
I’ve learned the value of hard work, the necessity of
patience, the joy of community, the importance of faith and the significance of
grace in the middle of it all.
Each day, friends, has been a leap of faith. And for me,
every leap has been a leap worth taking.
Sarah is no fan of soap operas, but loves community and creativity. She’s a young professional in the communications, writing and nonprofit fields and can’t get enough of it. Sarah appreciates a good cardigan, cherishes a great cup of coffee and gets a kick out of painting her nails red. Connect with her on her blog, Inspiration-Driven Life, at http://sarahkocischeilz.wordpress.com and on Twitter @SarahKoci.