For those of you who don’t know, I (semi) recently left my career in marketing to pursue a new degree and career in Nursing. I am loving on that decision even though nursing school is really, really hard.
I knew marketing wasn’t for me from my very first internship in the summer of 2011. Turns out, sitting at a desk for 40 hours a week is not nearly as fun and interesting as analyzing high-profile case studies and attending lectures led by truly brilliant Professors for roughly 15 hours a week, while living with all of your friends and partying your face off every weekend.
I went into senior year in minor crisis mode. I had two semesters left to 1) find what would make me happy, 2) obtain enough credits to do it, and 3) land a job in a totally new field upon graduating.
Throughout the fall I toyed with different ideas – veterinary school, physical therapy, teaching English abroad, on and on. Ultimately, each option proved to be very expensive or very time-consuming or, usually, both. I decided to give marketing another shot. After all, one experience does not an entire industry make, and I did have this lovely, prestigious diploma that I had poured 4 years of time and effort into. So, armed with my business degree and a stubborn determination to make it work, off into the real world I went to find and rock my new career.
After a grueling (and I do mean grueling) few months of job searching, I was lucky to be offered a position with the same company where I had interned the summer before. Small detour here, but if you are a new grad searching for a job please try not to get discouraged. It is a horrible, demoralizing process and we all go through it. The first one is the hardest, I promise it gets much easier after that (to this day I still have recruiters reaching out to me, and I’m not even in the field anymore…). As it turns out, this first job would end up being my favorite of the roughly 4 years and 4 positions I held in my brief stint in marketing.
You read that right. Four years, four positions. Clue #2 you might be in the wrong field: flight behavior. Clue #1 being that you are totally miserable.
I actually really liked that first company I worked for, it was a fun product and I was able to work in a lot of different areas with fun and intelligent people. Some of my closest friends to this day are people I met in that first job, and I am certainly forever grateful for that piece. Still, something didn’t feel right, and I still couldn’t quite put my finger on it.
I would spend the next couple of years bouncing from job to job, each time entering with a new hope and leaving discouraged that I still hadn’t found “the one.” As the months passed I was getting increasingly frustrated, mostly with myself. I was making very good money for someone my age, I had a secure job with more offers coming in every day, I had the expensive city apartment, the fancy gym membership (I mean, not Equinox fancy, but a few steps up from Planet Fitness…), I could go out for drinks on weeknights at Swanky new bars downtown and not have to think twice about the cost. In short, it was everything I thought I wanted. I was playing the part and drinking the Kool Aid, so WHY was I still feeling like something was missing?
The turning point came last summer, July 2015. My grandmother had fallen and broken her hip in May, and two months of surgery and attempted rehab had not been enough. She wasn’t going to come back from this, and was going into hospice to live the rest of her days comfortably. At the time, I was working at one of Boston’s biggest and most well-known marketing agencies. I was up to my eyeballs in work and was mega-stressed about taking the time off to go see her. My boss, to his credit, encouraged me to go and assured me that the team would not crumble if I (the most junior member of the team, so in retrospect, duh) took some time to go spend with my family.
I’m not going to go into all the details of the last 9 days I spent with my grandmother. I actually wrote a post on it, edited it 3 times, and ultimately decided it was too personal to share. What I will say is this: yes, she was old and lived a long life, but I quickly learned that there is a difference between having a loved one die and watching a loved one die. Did I see her physically pass? No. But I did sit with her for hours feeling powerless while she lay in a morphine-induced coma and slowly faded away.
I ran a lot to try to distract myself, cried more than I ran, and drank more than I cried; and somewhere between the miles and the tears and the copious, copious amounts of wine consumed, I realized something. I didn’t care about my job. It was totally meaningless to me. I didn’t care about the work I was doing, I only cared that I got a paycheck so that I could fund all those things mentioned above. Despite all that, I had let this job cause me 2007-Britney-Spears-levels of stress and consume my entire life, to the point that I almost didn’t get to say goodbye to a family member I loved.
Having never been hospitalized personally, this was my first real interaction with on-the-job nurses for any significant amount of time. I lived with a few nurses in college, but to be honest didn’t really understand the ins and outs of the profession. The comfort that those hospice nurses brought not only to my grandmother, but also to our grieving family really can’t be put into words. This was my “aha” new perspective moment: I needed a change, and nursing was it.
I had been teaching Group Exercise classes for about a year, so I knew I liked working with people and making a positive difference in their lives. I’ve also always been interested in holistic health and wellness. The switch made so much sense, it was almost laughable. As anyone who knows me can tell you, moderation is not my forte, so as with all things in my life I dove in head first. I started taking pre-requisite courses for accelerated second degree programs that August, was accepted into Salem State’s program in March, left my job in May, and haven’t looked back since.
As the cliche goes, hindsight is 20/20. It’s crystal clear to me now why marketing wasn’t a good fit, but that’s a story for another time. I traded in my apartment, my salary, my desk, and my laptop for student loans and scrubs. And I would do it again. A thousand times over.
It’s never too late for a new beginning. I don’t look at this as “starting over.” Starting over implies that everything before was for naught. I don’t regret my 4 years at Boston College, it was the best experience and I count myself beyond lucky to have had the opportunity to learn there. BC taught me how to think critically; how to analyze a problem, break it down, and solve it. It taught me how to study, how to take tests, and manage my time. I owe much of my academic success to that school, and I met some great friends there (I also had an absolute blast, so there’s that). My education and experience in business has served me well and continues to do so. I have a solid understanding of finance and economics. I know how to manage a budget. I’ve learned how to work with and for people, some more difficult than others. I’ve been on more interviews than I can count, and that is a skill that can really only be learned by practice. I’m taking all of this with me as I move forward in this new adventure.
Taking chances is scary. It’s also part of life. If you’re not happy, odds are there is a reason (or a few reasons). Find that reason and change it. Don’t be weighed down by what you were, become what you are now.
When I teach a Group Exercise class, my goal is simple: empowerment. I want my students to own their power. The power to improve, to better yourself, to change your life, and to be whatever and however you want to be.
You know, all of that hippie-dippie stuff you pick up living/working in the Cambridge area.
What better to take a chance on than yourself? Practicing what you preach, y’all. Apparently, it can change your life.
If nothing else, I hope my story can inspire anybody who is considering making a change to go for it! My path is more uncertain than it has been in 4 years but somehow I’m cool as a cucumber, which as someone with anxiety is no small feat. I’ll end this with a quote from the Queen, because I have an enormous girl crush… and she’s right. I did it. Why not you?