For a while now I’ve been wanting to sit down and write a post about my new career direction. Partly because I just want to share my excitement with any of you who read my blog, and also because I know that trouble figuring out career direction is a common affliction. If sharing my journey helps anyone else then that alone is reason enough to write it out!
As a child, I never had a burning desire to be one thing or another. We were homeschooled, and our days were filled with room for creative freedom, so there was a lot of space for writing, reading, playing imaginative games etc. I knew that I would always want to write, but I didn’t really bother about the future. I’m glad because I had a beautiful childhood.
When I got to college, I still had no idea what to do so I majored in Communication. I actually really loved my degree. My professors had such varied, friendly, interesting personalities, and I learned valuable skills in classes like Public Speaking, Argumentation, Interpersonal Communication, etc. One of my best moments was writing a 10-page paper on Friends for my Public and the Media class, and getting an A. Best major ever!
While at college, I was lucky enough to get a job at Starbucks in Queen Anne. It was an excellent store – right in the heart of Seattle, with an interesting customer base of neighborhood regulars, college students, and city people. After a year and a half I transferred to University Village Starbucks, which I absolutely loved. At the time this was the busiest Starbucks in America, and second busiest in the world. You had to really throw yourself into the work in order to get through a line that sometimes consisted of 100 customers. One of my supervisors described our team of baristas as an army heading out to war together, and that’s what it felt like!
Here I am pictured in a Japanese magazine featuring different Starbucks around the world
After graduating college, I continued to work at Starbucks and also had an internship with a local Christian radio station. This was really awesome experience, because I was allowed a lot of creative freedom. We started a page on the website called “Society and Culture” and I wrote book, movie, CD and concert reviews. I also got to interview many different artists. It was such an amazing opportunity, and I learned a lot. In some ways this blog is a continuation of that kind of work, which I’ve always loved doing.
Meeting Shawn McDonald
In the fall of 2006, I decided last minute to do a Discipleship Training School with the Christian mission organization Youth With a Mission (YWAM). This school included three months in Montana taking classes, and a two-month outreach to Thailand. It was one of the most challenging, best things I’ve ever done. It was the perfect time in my life to do something like this too. I learned to step outside my comfort zone and follow after God.
I also came away with a sense that God was asking me to work in a secular place, and not to necessarily make my career in the church or in official ministry. However, I again had no clue what to do once I was back home, so when my pastor called asking if I would consider a part-time job as office administrator, I quickly took the job.
Around this time I also had a great desire to work for magazines, as I enjoyed writing and sharing in this way, but staff positions were becoming increasingly rare as the internet took over, and also I lived in Seattle.
After working for church and nannying on the side, I eventually took a job at the Starbucks corporate office. I was working in the customer service department, with the hope of moving up in the company to more of a communications/marketing oriented position. I really loved it there! I was working with many people and supervisors I had worked with in the stores, and eventually my sister came as well.
However, this was 2009 and hard times for Starbucks. This is around the time they were closing a lot of stores and reorienting their business approach. The customer service department was on shaky ground, and finally there occurred two different rounds of layoffs. It was awful, emotional and awful!! Many of my friends from the stores were laid off. I survived the layoffs, but decided I should leave before they outsourced the department, which they eventually did.
(I should note that I still love Starbucks, have really great memories from my time there, and am a regular customer.)
I took the first job I could find at a small family-owned company in the insurance industry. I was the marketing assistant. I stayed there about a year and a half. This season was the unhappiest I’ve ever been at a job. Much of this is because of my own personal confusion. I just was not feeling any purpose in the work I was doing. (However, I do want to say I really loved the people I worked with, who became my friends. I have a lot of positive memories from work travel and other opportunities, and working out together on lunch break!)
I decided to quit, and take some time off to nanny and really figure out what I should do with my life. I joined a nanny agency and matched up with a family I’ve now been with for two years. I just have to say God was really watching out for me, because spending time with my little buddies has been the best season of rest and joy that I ever could have asked for. It never feels like going to “work” and I even look forward to Monday mornings, which says a lot!
Throughout the 7 years since graduating college, I have experienced varying degrees of confusion as to what my career should be. I am very left-handed/right-brained, and I knew I loved creative work. However, I had a feeling it would be quenching to depend on creativity for my income.
About four months ago it was suggested to me that I look into nursing. People have suggested this before, but I always dismissed it. I thought I could never survive the science classes, and what if I made a mistake and caused hurt to someone else?
However, at this particular moment I suddenly felt a lightbulb go off. And then I felt a burden slip off my back and fly away. I just had this feeling that this was exactly what I was supposed to do.
I took a couple days to pray about it, and then I began asking friends and family for advice and opinions. I talked to friends who had gone back to school for nursing, and I talked with my aunt and my grandma who are both nurses. I then enrolled in Chemistry for spring quarter.
The more I looked into this career, the more I felt it was the right decision for me. I realized all the reasons I’d avoided it were based out of fear. I got 100% on my first chemistry test and a 4.0 in the class. This meant a lot to me and became kind of symbolic – a sign that you should never avoid something just because you’re afraid of it!
I realized that in the end, it was most important to me to work with people. Throughout my different jobs I’ve always felt the most purpose when I’m meeting people, caring for them, listening to their concerns, etc.
I should also mention that I started this blog up right around the time I left my marketing job. I knew that I needed a creative outlet, and this has been the perfect one! No matter how busy I become over the next couple years of school, I’m determined to keep this blog going. Thank you so much to any of you who read, it means a lot to me!
So this is where I am now – enrolled in summer classes, still nannying, and also volunteering in the ER of a local hospital. This volunteering shift has been one of the most fulfilling, exciting, frightening things I’ve ever done. I was so nervous before I started that I watched a bunch of Scrubs episodes, because I had no other way of feeling prepared to step into a medical environment I knew nothing about. But so far, the people I work with have been really friendly and helpful.
The ER is a unique environment – fast-paced, unpredictable, and filled with suffering faces. I have to say though that volunteering there has been the final confirmation I needed to know that nursing is the course for me. Even though right now my tasks mostly consist of stocking supplies and cleaning up blood etc, I feel filled with purpose. The ER isn’t really a place where anyone coming in wants to be. And while it is so overwhelming to see faces drawn with pain, husbands sobbing into their wives arms, or even enter a room where there is a life passing away from this world, I feel so close to God while I’m there. God is close to those who are suffering, and so much of what Jesus did was to walk among the broken and touch them with his healing hands. If my work makes me feel even a tiny bit closer to God, then that right there is reason enough to pursue it.
So that’s my story! It’s been a journey, and it’s strange to be starting all over at 28-almost-29. But one thing I can say is that God has been so faithful to me through every step. Even when I was confused and the future was so unclear, I can now look back and see reasons for those seasons. While I truly feel I’m walking in His will and have found the right career, I also know that no job is perfect. No job should ultimately define who you are. I think I learned this the hard way when I really couldn’t find a job to define me. I’ve learned to simply ask for God’s direction each day, and follow it to the best of my ability. And that is the best adventure anyone could ever have.
Thank you so much for reading this novel of a post – if you made it to the end I am impressed!! Thank you also for reading my blog. If you are struggling with figuring out your career, just remember that seasons change, and sometimes this change comes from a direction you never would have expected.