Home Work Career Confessions My Career Journey Continues: A New Chapter Begins!

As we all head into another work week, I want to take a little trip down memory lane…

To recap my career journey, a few of you may have read about how I left Corporate America in 2011 to work at a start-up here in Chicago. Four short months later, I started my new life as an accidental entrepreneur after I unexpectedly got laid off from that same start-up.  Bummer! A few weeks after that, I wrote about the best week ever when (among other things) my husband asked me to marry him!!

Eventually MCG Media, Inc. was born.  With the help of the lovely Kovie Biakolo, we set up shop doing digital content creation and digital marketing for clients.  We also held 4 “Ms. Career Girl Connect” women’s networking events here in Chicago, and I was paid to teach classes, train companies and speak to organizations about how to use social media to generate leads and earn more revenue.

Running my own ship was tough.  I specifically remember presenting to Entrepreneurship students at my alma mater, Miami University, last year and telling them that “every week feels like finals week.”  You know the feeling: not enough sleep, too much caffeine, a bit socially disconnected from the world, eating crappy food on the fly, not making time to work out and running from one seemingly urgent task (or bill) to the next – all which were due yesterday.

My little engine was becoming a tiny agency of its own as we earned new RFP’s and clients.  At a certain point it felt like all the juggling was becoming inefficient.  I was getting away from my craft and my passion for social media because all of my time was dedicated to quality control, sales and management.

After a trip to the E.R. with my husband, a few clients who couldn’t (or wouldn’t) pay their bill, too many 3-day stints of not leaving the house because I was working so much, and the realization that being a sole practitioner was isolating me and my growth as a professional…

I made the tough decision that it was time to pursue full time employment again.

I was ready to be around brilliant people every day, to collaborate with co-workers and to work on bigger clients than I could acquire on my own.  I had a lot of great experience under my belt.  Not to mention I was ready to bring my share of financial stability into our impending marriage…

Tomorrow I start my new job as a Senior Social Strategist.  There’s no doubt that my varied experience will help me be a better and more valuable employee going forward.  I am really excited about this chapter and have a feeling it will be my favorite one yet!

The moral of the story is: enjoy the journey, wherever you are.

(Oh, and my usual rant: be prepared by updating your skills, having a side hustle, networking, reading and trusting your gut… sorry can’t help it!)

If you are considering a change of some kind, just remember you can always go back to what you used to do- no shame. Seriously! Just read the bios of many of the world’s most successful people, they all had failures and “u-turns” in their journey.  Just make a decision – any decision – and keep moving forward.  You may be surprised that the twisty road is often the most fun and the most rewarding one to be on.

If you are looking for something totally different, you can check out this link to an infographic that will show you the job industries for women that make them happy, even as a working mom, as well as the highest paid job and how to get to them. You might even want to go back to school to get your dream job, and why not? There are so many programs, developed online, to help you manage your daily routine while gaining valuable knowledge. So think about what you really want and go for it.

 If you’ve had a unique career path, I’d love to hear about it in the comments section.  What advice would you give others who may be facing big changes in their career?  

For those of you who WANT change, what are you doing to get it?

47 replies to this post
  1. Nicole, thanks for writing this. I can so relate. I’ve worked for lots of startups and recently have launched my own. Sort of. These days I have four part-time jobs/clients and earn less than I would in a full-time job. I love it. Most of the time. It is also stressful and exhausting. Two of the four are essentially my dream jobs. I live in a country (Chile) where it might be hard for me to get a full-time job since my background doesn’t fit the local categories of professionals. I don’t have any grand answers and I ‘m not complaining. I think this experience will make you a fabulous employee and I think you will appreciate the perks and structure more than other people. Sending hugs from Chile!!

    • Leslie,

      First thanks for your loyal following throughout the years. I always look forward to your comments. I hear ya on the 4 clients that don’t quite add up to a full time job. How do you like living in Chile? Do you plan on staying there long term or checking out a new country (or maybe coming back home?)? I think working for yourself just makes you really tough. It’s a “fight or flight” situation that many of us need to work out some of our personal “kinks.”


      • Nicole,

        You’re more than welcome! I enjoy reading your blog :)

        Yes, I like Chile. It’s a gorgeous country and I’ve had so many opportunities here that I can’t imagine at home in the US. For example, I teach a social entrepreneurship class at a university, which has been amazing. To do that in the US, I might need a masters’ or even a pH.d (which I don’t have). My boyfriend is also Chilean. I’ve been living with him for the past several months, which has been lovely (and eases the financial stress I mentioned). He loves the US and we’ve talked about visiting together at some point next year, but I really can’t think that far ahead.

        I think the answer for me at this point is to be more careful about the responsibilities I choose to take on. This way I’ll be able to focus more and be less overwhelmed. At the same time, I need to raise my rates so I don’t feel the pressure to stretch myself so thin.

        The university where I teach has mentioned I might be able to teach two classes instead of one next semester, which would mean I could focus my energy more. And one of those classes will be the same one I teach now, which means a lot less prep work.

        I’ve also been getting acupuncture every week, which is a nice break, and it provides relief from stress-related shoulder pain.

        I may have another guest post for you some time soon, on this topic: http://www.leslieforman.com/how-to-create-your-international-career/

        Enjoy the new job, and enjoy newlywed life!


  2. I was forced to leave my university in 2008 because I could no longer afford the tuition. In a faltering economy, with no degree and very little work experience I had to reinvent and market myself in a way that allowed me to remain relevant and competitive against job seekers with a much better portfolio than I had. For four years I built my entire résumé with temporary assignments through staffing agencies. Imagine not knowing where your next dime would come from after a 3 month temporary job ended? Eventually it became less stressful and more of a motivation. I knew I had to network my butt off and spend time before and after work landing my next gig. You have to love a girl who can get out there and make things happen. Thank you for this article!

    • Ebonie,

      That is a great story that many others need to hear. So many people just take the “poor me” approach and stop taking any action at all. I think people really under estimate the power of temping! There are periods in everyone’s life where it’s more about “paying the bills” than having the perfect role. Good for you, I’m glad to see things turned out well for you!


  3. This is a great post – thanks for sharing! I’m currently in that place where I need to start making some decisions about what I’m going to do about my work situation. I recently stumbled upon your blog and enjoy the variety of post topics. Keep it up!

      • Hi Nicole,

        I am in the same position as Miranti. I am ready to make a career change and start enjoying what I do. I want some new and fresh! Please share with me any posts that may be helpful. Thanks.

  4. I love this post Nicole! I can’t begin to tell you how much I can relate. Like you, I became an entrepreneur three years ago and I feel like finals week was actually a walk in the park.

    It’s fulfilling, but the fact that you have to wear so many different hats as a solopreneur means I literally have no down time. I have to manage everything from sales, marketing, social media, accounting and sometimes I feel like it takes me away from the work I was so passionate about. If hunting down clients for payment were a sport, I’d make it to the Olympics for sure :)

    You’ve made the right decision for yourself and I wish you all the best! I agree that following your gut is the most important thing. I’m also a big fan of having a side hustle – it opens up possibilities for future.

    Good luck!

  5. It’s kind of funny that you posted this now because I’m in the process of going through the same thing. I graduated 4 yrs ago with a general business degree in a bad economy with no good jobs in site. I finally found a job with a financial firm as a temp doing data entry but only making minimum wage. I’m with another firm now making a better wage but I’m still not really happy with the job and I still don’t make enough to live on my own. Our firm recently had everyone take aptitude tests and after taking it I really realized I’m in the wrong job and what kind of job I should be in and am now going back to school to get an AS degree in accounting :)

    They say people nowadays will have 3-5 different careers in our lifetime :) GL

    • I love the last two sentences of this post…” Just make a decision – any decision – and keep moving forward. You may be surprised that the twisty road is often the most fun and the most rewarding one to be on.”
      I recently left a job I was miserable in, it was a sales job but extremely focused on service as well,basically we sales people did all of our own installations so this meant carrying a tool bag and drill around! Too say I was miserable is probably an understatement. I knew I wanted to get out of this job within the first 6 months but I stayed for 2 LONG years! I could not make a decision for the life of me on what I wanted to do in fear that I’d be making the wrong decision. But it’s exactly like you said make a decision any decision and keep moving forward. Life goes on even if in the end it’s the wrong decision. I came to the realization that makeup, skincare, the beauty industry is really what I’m passionate about. And I thought about going to school for esthetics for over a year! I feared I’d be making the wrong decision, wasting my business degree, not living up to my potential, not making enough money. Finally I was so sick of feeling depressed from the job i hated 24/7 that I just forced myself to just go for it and enroll in school. I left my well paying job and am barely getting by but I LOVE what I am doing now and have so much fun!

  6. I lost my job yesterday. This was the first place I came because during my 4 years working as a career advisor I would share your posts with students and recent grads after finding you on my own somehow. So here I am starting over in the same position as most of my graduates. I am actually excited for this new beginning…
    thanks for this post its inspiring. I am back to being a entrepreneur I am a photographer, but I also have this knowledge with social media, education, strategic planning that this can open to so many opportunities I have to find out how to put this all in one tunnel now. *sigh* thanks for being honest in your posts and sharing your journey.

    • Oh my gosh Stephanie I’m so sorry to hear about this. I have a few opportunities I can pass along to you. Will email now. Stay positive. This journey is exactly where God/life wants you. If you ever need to talk let me know, it’s an emotional rollercoaster.

      • Hey Nicole!
        Thanks you so much, you can send them to stephanie@missgraham.com that alone is a blessing in itself. I also would actually like to take you up on talking, Im excited about whats next but its also very overwhelming. so let me know when you might have some free time or the best email to reach out to you online.

        thanks so much

  7. […] It’s been almost 2 months since I started my new job, and I’m happy to report that I’m really happy!  Ironically, I’ve had an […]

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