As you may or may not know, for the past two years, I have been making a career transition from marketing to occupational therapy. It’s taking a bit of time because in order to even apply to graduate school for occupational therapy, I had to take and complete six science and psychology pre-requisite courses. Although long, it’s gone pretty quickly — I can’t believe it’s been almost two years since I started taking my first science course in 2015.
In terms of career transitioning, I am not alone. Within my set of friends and acquaintances, I have several who are transitioning or who have transitioned into different careers. And I want you to hear their stories. Perhaps you’re thinking of career transitioning, and you don’t know where to start; or you’re confused on which direction to go to; maybe you’ve been a stay-at-home mom for several years and not sure how to get back into the job market. Hopefully my and my friend’s stories can help inspire you on your own career transition.
There are even companies that have sprung up in the past few years that specialize in people pivoting, shifting, re-entering and career transitioning such asWerk,Career Shifters,Mom Corps andiRelaunch.
According to this CNBC article,
“The single career path or job-for-life certainly isn’t dead, but it’s becoming more and more likely that people will go through at least one career change in their lifetime.” – Natasha Stanley of Career Shifters
So…here’s the first Transition Tuesday (#ttmTransitionTuesday) featuring ME and my transition! I hope it inspires you.
Transition Tuesday: From Director of Marketing to Grad Student of Occupational Therapy
Me in my chemistry lab class, with my lab partner.
What was your previous career / title?
- Director of Global Marketing: For fifteen years, I worked in the fashion industry for Fortune 500 companies as a fashion buyer and merchandiser, then transitioned within the fashion industry into the marketing departments. My last position was the Director of Global Marketing and PR at Liz Claiborne Inc. (now Kate Spade and Company).
- President Triple Threat Media and Editor and Publisher of TripleThreatMommy.com: or the past 7 1/2 years, I was self-employed as a social media and marketing consultant to small businesses. I initially had three clients, but then stayed with one brand as I was chipping away at my science pre-requisites. I also blogged consistently, which was great because as a social media consultant, I understood the blogger world and how to market to them.
What did your day-to-day look like in your previous career? When I was the Director of Marketing, my day was filled with meetings and activating marketing programs for each fashion season. This could mean creating print advertising, in-store advertising, producing GWP’s (gift with purchases), launching a newly-designed e-commerce website, producing content for social media (in 2010 that was VERY new to the brands I worked on). My hours were long: 8:30am until very late in the evening. I remember being at my desk until 11 p.m. or 12 midnight. Being a mom was extremely hard and I could not find balance. I was lucky to have a very supportive husband who had a job that enabled him to come home to be with our daughters.
When I was a social media consultant, I continued to work on social media content, trade marketing and managing with third-party vendors for various marketing initiatives. I also continued to reach out to bloggers for editorial content for major marketing campaigns. My work-week was pretty flexible since I set my own hours and was able to be a mom and work at the same time, which I am extremely grateful for.
What is your career / title now? I am in transition at this point. In the fall, I am going to become a full-time graduate student of Occupational Therapy which will take 2.5 years to complete. I have stopped my social media and marketing consulting business and this summer I plan on being a mom before the chaos of graduate school starts. Once I graduate, I plan on being employed full-time as an occupational therapist.
What does your day-to-day look like now? I’ll update this post once school starts, but from what I hear, my graduate school schedule will be Monday through Friday, 8am – 4pm, plus studying. I’m sure there will be many late nights filled with studying, reading and cramming.
It was great to be able to model studying for our girls. However, finding a place to eat dinner proved to be a problem. ????
Why did you want to make the change? Taken directly from my graduate school application essay:
“For twenty years, I was in fashion buying and marketing, and recently as a social media and marketing consultant for a small business. I “connect” people with brands, provide content on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for my client; and I work with bloggers to tell my client’s brand story. After several years, that “connection” isn’t meaningful to me anymore because my focus is on impressions, reach, likes and followers. My day-to- day career is literally up in the digital clouds and I want to get “back down to earth”.
Simply put, I wanted a job that entailed working with and for people instead of working for likes, clicks and impressions. And I know it sounds cliché, but I really want to make a real difference in real people’s lives.
What were the steps you took to make this change? I finally made the decision back in 2013 that I had to do something else. That I needed a change. But it wasn’t until the summer of 2015 when I had dinner with a friend — who also had made a career transition — that I needed to finally do something. So, I looked up the requirements for Occupational Therapy programs in New York City and made a Google Doc spreadsheet by each school and started chipping away at the pre-requisites that I needed. As a marketing major in undergrad, I had to take all sciences in order to apply to any of the OT programs. Eighteen months and six classes later I finished all of my science and psychology pre-requisites.
How much did it cost you to make this change? Not just the dollar cost but the time cost? I lowered the number of days I worked as a consultant because I needed to study for classes, and I decided to only work with one client, thus, my income decreased. I decided to go to a city community college to take my pre-requisites where I received in-state tuition costs. Although it was thousands of dollars to take six courses, I saved tens of thousands going to a city community college instead of private college.
Studying took up a lot of my “free time”. Not just during the day, but at night and on weekends as well. Most of my classes occurred during the weekends so that I was available for school drop-offs and pick-ups. I did lose a lot of family time during the weekends. I expect that will happen again once I go back to school full-time in the fall.
Then there’s the cost of going to graduate school full-time at a private university which is going to cost almost six-figures. I am taking out federal loans and applied for a scholarship. I know that I’ll be able to find a job post-graduation as an occupational therapist so I’ll be able to pay back my student loans.
What was the impact on, support of, pushback from family and friends? Describe your experiences. And if you had pushback, how did you overcome that? My husband continues to be extremely supportive and my biggest cheerleader. When we talked about me making this change he said, “You have 25 years to work, so find something you want to do.” Since my classes were on the weekends, he picked up the parenting duties then, especially when mid-terms and finals came around and I had to study. My teenage daughter has showed me new ways to study like using the Quizlet app to make digital flashcards, instead of making the old-fashioned analog kind. I expect that when she’s a freshman in high school that she and I continue to support each other when we have a lot of homework.
My parents have also been great cheerleaders as well. I think it’s because they’ve always wanted me to go into the healthcare field so they are proud I am taking this step.
My evenings and weekends consisted of this view. With and without the sunflowers.
When you have alone time for yourself, what is your favorite affordable luxury? When I’m not studying, and the kids are in school or at camp, I like to read those gossipy magazines at the nail salon while getting a mani-pedi.
If you have any questions about the Occupational Therapy graduate school process, feel free to leave a question below and I’ll answer you back.