There’s been a lot of talk recently about resilience.
You know what goes hand-in-hand with resilience?
Struggles….to work through.
Mental roadblocks….to disengage.
We’ve all experienced setbacks in life, but it’s about how we react to them that makes the difference between reaching our goals or letting them fall by the wayside.
When it comes to career change, many people, including High Performers, are bound to stumble on a few things before ultimately reaching their new career.
“I guess I just never found anything that I liked enough to stay with it for a really long period of time.” – Sarah Hawkins
Meet Sarah Hawkins
Sarah knows this story all too well.
After being out of the workforce for a good chunk of time from a physical setback, she finally decided to jump back into the daily grind.
But, like many people looking to get back into work after a long break, Sarah just didn’t know what she wanted.
Her previous job experiences didn’t seem to help her figure it out any faster as she was a self-described “dabbler.” Or what we like to call, a multipotentialite. Sarah had a lot of interests and could never narrow down what she was passionate enough to commit to full-time.
She knew that she was “capable of doing a lot, [but] just [was] not sure what the right thing [was].”
So, finally Sarah decided that she needed help figuring it out.
Enter HTYC and the Career Change Bootcamp program
There is something that sets High Performers apart from the rest of the world of job candidates, and that is asking for help when they don’t know how to do something.
Not being afraid and having the ability to push their egos aside to seek the help and support they need to achieve their goals.
Sarah turned to HTYC after all of her research because it just fit what she knew she needed to get her career change ball rolling.
Sarah now works as an Operations Coordinator for CASA with a promotion (and raise!) waiting for her by the end of her first year.
How’d she manage that?
She asked for help.
She proactively sought out the career change resource that fit her specific needs.
Sarah invested in the HTYC Career Change Bootcamp as a tool to not only make her dream career a reality, but also to help her negotiate her position to tailor it to her vision of what she wanted her career path to look like as she progressed.
Here are some of Sarah’s biggest takeaways from investing in the HTYC career resources:
“It’s a lot of self-reflection and honesty and looking at things differently and being willing to be open to what our inner self is truly saying instead of what everyone says it should be.”
– Sarah Hawkins
Do the work
There are many people, like Sarah, that know that they are capable of many things, but aren’t necessarily confident in those abilities and strengths.
Asking for help and doing the work to find your strengths, getting to know your interests, and being able to dig deep and reflect on your findings will give you the insight you need to begin making those life decisions to really hone in on what your true life and career goals are.
Change your mindset
When you do that reflective work on your strengths, experiences, and goals, you learn so much about yourself and the things that are really important to you.
The mindset change and confidence in what you are working towards almost comes naturally.
Even though you may struggle or lose your way a bit, career coaches are available to help guide you to continue to keep your momentum and get out of your own head.
Connections begin to get made and you’re on your way to your new career.
Get the support you need
There are perks to joining a strong community of supporters that are in a similar career transition situation that you are in.
High Performers know that surrounding yourself around the people that encourage and support you and your goals is necessary to make things happen.
You don’t have to stop dreaming about a future of what you want to do when you hit a roadblock in your process. With a career coach and a community of like-minded career-changers, you – like Sarah, can get your hope back for your future.
Once you are able to step away from your current situation to regain perspective on what you need to do to continue with your career transition, you will be able to find the resources you need to reach your career goals.
If you’re struggling to find the way to your new career, Career Change Bootcamp can help steer you in the right direction.
What have you got to lose?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
You’ll stand to gain that career happiness that we’re all out here seeking!
Transcript from Episode
Scott Barlow: Hey welcome back to Happen to Your Career. I’m incredibly excited for today’s guest. It’s night like or normal guests because our guest just, in the last 48 hours, accepted a job she is excited about and was able to push some boundaries. We get to hear her story. Welcome to the Happen to Your Career podcast Sarah Hawkins. Thank you for coming on and making the time. It’s happened so quickly.
Sarah Hawkins: Yes it has. It is a whirlwind. It’s been pretty awesome and I’ve been happy.
Scott Barlow: Very cool. Let me ask you about this. What will you be doing?
Sarah Hawkins: I’m going to be the Operations Coordinator for CASA. Which stands for Court Appointed Special Advocate. They work with trained volunteers and pair them with children in the foster and court system. They are appointed by judges to pair with the child and be the voice and advocate. The child’s best interest is their only focus. They don’t care what mom, grandma or dad want. Just the child. It helps the judge make better decisions on what is the best interest of the child. It’s a really amazing organization. I will be the Operations Coordinator and hopefully in the next year or so bump up to the Operations Manager.
Scott Barlow: I thought how you negotiated was really cool. You structured it to happen sooner than normal which I thought was pretty cool. I’ll ask you about that later. I know you sent me and Lisa a couple emails about how excited you were about the organization. After learning about what they do I think it is fantastic. Congratulations. I haven’t actually got to tell you that in person. This is awesome.
Sarah Hawkins: Thank you.
Scott Barlow: Here is my question. Now you are going next week and starting that job with an organization you are excited about. It’s only been recently so I’m curious about your background and what led up to this. I’d love to start with what caused you to move down this path? You went to school in Portland right?
Sarah Hawkins: Yes. I grew up in the central valley of California near Fresno. It’s really hot and there is no rain or fun weather. I was like I’m out and never coming back. I went to Portland where everything is lush and green and gorgeous. There is rain, which I don’t mind, and cloudy days which are invigorating for me. I loved it there. I went to school at Lewis and Clark College and majored in psychology. I loved being there and stayed a year longer but my whole family wouldn’t move up there as much as I tried. I have a close and big family. I almost had my parents up there. They were looking at listings but then my sister got pregnant with their first grandchild. They wouldn’t leave then. That was unfortunate. So I shortly thereafter decided to come home because I missed everyone and wanted to know my nieces and nephews. I’m glad I did. I met and married my husband here.
I guess my whole career story has been one of bouncing around because I didn’t know what I wanted to do or spend my life doing. I could never figure it out. My dad and sister are CPAs. My other two sisters are teachers and my brother is an awesome salesman. I didn’t have a thing I was good at and wanted to pursue. I called myself a dabbler. I liked to do things for a little while but when it started to get too in-depth or you needed to be an expert I lost interest or it wasn’t worth the extra step to be an expert.
Scott Barlow: I think we have more than a few HTYCers that can identify with that. Either because you get bored or any number of reasons, you are ready to move on to the next thing.
Sarah Hawkins: Yeah and that is the thing with psychology. I loved it but when I got into the upper classes with the in-depth stuff I was like eh. I don’t want to do this for a living. The same thing, I tried teaching and I either needed to go back to school and get a credential or do something else. I don’t like this enough to go back to school and get new credentials and debt. I never found anything I liked enough to stay with it for a long time. I bounced to different things usually falling into office management and administrative stuff because I’m good at juggling a lot of things. I learn quickly and do well in that environment because I can help with anything they need. It wasn’t satisfying because there isn’t growth in that, at least not in my path.
You jump around. I did real estate appraisal for a while. That didn’t stick. I did all my classes to get my credential and then debated if I wanted to do it for the rest of my life. No I didn’t so I stopped that. I had a bunch of false starts which made me feel like I wasn’t building a resume so I kept having to start entry level. I was doing supportive roles to people coming out of college when I was in my mid-thirties. It was disheartening because I was capable of a lot more. I could not reach higher because I didn’t have the “experience.” This course helped me get my mind around the idea that you have traits, talents, and experiences that can translate across sectors and job descriptions and you don’t necessarily have to have the same job description for 15 years to have it apply to a new position.
Scott Barlow: I want to back up a second. The back story is you had gotten through our Career Change Boot Camp program. For everyone else here how did you find us?
Sarah Hawkins: I am very anti-social media. I don’t do it and am not good at it and keeping up. I got a LinkedIn account finally and was reading all the articles while looking for work. One of my contacts posted one of your articles about strengths. I downloaded your handbook. There was an option to sign up for a webinar. I liked what I heard in terms of finding my strengths and doing what I loved. I had expected it wouldn’t be an option for me because I didn’t know what that was. I thought I would flounder around or settle in my career for the rest of my life. I thought that was how the rest of my career life would go. It was inspiring to realize it wasn’t necessarily how it had to be. I signed up for the boot camp and it has been a roller coaster ride since.
Scott Barlow: I want to talk about that more, but now you’ve went through this mental switch. You had been thinking it was one or the other. I don’t think I will find what I enjoy and it will have any pay. Which is what most of us think. I just got off a call today where I was talking to a guy who said I want to make $200,000 a year and I want flexibility to take my daughter to school, because he has young kids. He didn’t see how he could do both. He was thinking he would have to choose between the two things and that it couldn’t be an option to do both. We talked about that and solutions. To be able to consider multiple alternatives. I’m curious about your situation. Where do you think that came from for you? Where do you think you thought this would never be a possibility?
Sarah Hawkins: I think maybe because I’d tried so many things trying to find my niche and the thing I was meant to do. I just never found it. I’ve looked so long and I can’t find it so it must not be a possibility for me. It’s the unicorn in the woods or Bigfoot that is never found. Some people have things they are naturally good at. My sister knew she wanted to be a teacher when she was five. I’ve never had that. I’ve looked a lot and tried. I looked at it as a fault of mine. Maybe I was too ADD and had a couldn’t commit or stick with anything attitude. It was my fault I could not find my thing. I don’t know if you want to get into this yet but that was one thing in the course that was mind blowing and liberating for me. The term multipotentialite. You had a webcast with Emilie Wapnick.
Scott Barlow: She’s been on the podcast a couple times too recently.
Sarah Hawkins: I listened to that and went running through the house telling my husband I know what I am now! It was so liberating to not be fighting that all the time. For others a multipotentialite is someone who likes a lot of things and is good at a lot of things and they don’t have one niche. I guess I never heard of it in a positive frame before.
Scott Barlow: It sounds negative right? It’s bad to be a dabbler.
Sarah Hawkins: You just can’t commit to anything or stick with it. As soon as it’s not fun you bolt. It’s not what I wanted but I’m the type that if I’m not mentally engaged I die inside. My whole soul withers up if I’m not challenged, engaged, and excited about something. I could only stick with something for so long before I could feel the deadening start. I realized I need to be doing different things because it’s the way I’m wired. Whether I’m doing that on the personal side to help if I’m sticking with a career, doing different things on my own, or trying to do different things in a role to feed that need for newness and challenge so I don’t get the deadening. It was a liberating thing to embrace rather than fight it. When she said some of the superpowers (I listened to her Ted Talk) one of the superpowers of a multipotentialite is rapid learning, being super adaptable, and merging ideas. I’m definitely a rapid learner and adaptable. But I never looked at those as strengths and a benefit. I was on cloud 9 for days and kept telling my husband I know what I am. You have no idea. It was never spoken. I’d just say I was a dabbler. To have someone else verbalize it, explain it, and react it positively was a huge leap to think about what was possible in the future.
Scott Barlow: That is interesting. A little back story for those listening. In Career Change Boot Camp we have guest instructors come on about once a month. Emilie Wapnick has come and done a section specifically for that group. That is what Sarah is referring to. I feel that is a big part of what we do when working with people. Everything we do is helping people align who they actually are with their work and understanding the ways to do that. I just heard you say, hey wait this is a good thing and there are ways to use that to your advantage.
Sarah Hawkins: And embracing it will make me happier. And more fulfilled. Rather than fighting it. I’ve been fighting it my whole life and it needed to be disciplined out of me. I wasn’t successful at doing that. I’ll be happier if I can embrace who I was created to be and it’s a good thing.
Scott Barlow: That is so cool. I feel like everybody we work with eventually gets that mental switch. They flip over and start thinking about what they do and who they are and what they offer as a positive. They start going with the grain rather than against it. In a variety of ways, because it doesn’t always happen in the same way, like watching Emilie Wapnick, it is our personal goal for everyone to have that moment.
Sarah Hawkins: I think you provide so many ways to make that happen or facilitate it. I think it takes someone willing to do the reflection and work. You aren’t just going to sign up and someone from Happen to Your Career will tell you your perfect job. It’s not so much something you provide as facilitate. The person that is wanting the answers needs to do the work to figure it out. It’s a lot of self-reflection and honesty and looking at things differently and being willing to be open to what our inner self is truly saying instead of what everyone says it should be. That is an important component and you guys are good at facilitating that and you do a great job all around.
Scott Barlow: I appreciate that. I’m curious, first of all, to jump back and fill in context. What caused you to want to make this last most recent change?
Sarah Hawkins: I have had some really horrendous health problems for the last 20 years, but the last 10-12 have been really bad resulting in me needing to leave the workforce because I couldn’t walk and was in tons of pain. I was bedridden for nearly two years. It was really bad. I was praying to die. I had eventually come to the realization that I will never work again because I can’t walk and I’m in so much pain that not even a wheelchair will help. My husband had his own business. Miraculously I found a solution to my health problems. It’s a long recovery process but I’ve made leaps and bounds back to life. I felt called to go back to work. I had been helping my husband the last year or two in his business but I’m not interested in it and was just helping to contribute.
I was in a place where I knew it’s time to go back to work out of the house. Which was very scary because I had to leave under the conditions that I could not physically do this anymore. That was hard because I take pride in my ability to handle what anyone needs. To have to gradually say I can’t do that until I had to come home and lay in bed all day for a year or two was difficult mentally and emotionally for me and extremely daunting to try to think about getting back into the workforce. It gave me an opportunity to think about what I wanted to do because I have a unique time where I’m not needing to report to another job. There was flexibility working for my husband. I had the opportunity to figure it out.
When I started looking for a job it was so disheartening. It was hard to get your resume in anywhere and my resume was vague because I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I threw everything on there to see if it appealed to anyone who could approach me with an opportunity that might be what I wanted. I didn’t know what I wanted so it was really hard to tailor a resume. I looked around to find services that could help me figure it out. I was reading articles on LinkedIn, Glassdoor and everywhere else to figure out what I wanted to do. The idea of going back to being an admin was ugh. I didn’t want to do it. I told my husband I know I need to but don’t want to at all. You don’t want to start a new job that way. Just as something you are doing just to make ends meet but you don’t want to do it. That started me on the path to finding you guys.
I was searching. I contacted a few resume people. I was looking for someone to help me figure out what I should be doing. I’m capable of doing a lot but don’t know what the right things is. I needed help. Most told me once you figure it out we can help you tailor your resume. I was stuck. I didn’t know where to turn which was why it was awesome when I found you guys because it was what I needed. I knew it was what I needed and didn’t know how you would get me there but knew you would. That was what prompted the career change. I was out of the market for four years from outside employment. Prior to that I was seriously struggling. Work in general has a painful connotation for me.
Scott Barlow: I didn’t realize the whole story. That is amazing.
Sarah Hawkins: It was daunting and scary. I would tell people I was terrified. I’m going to do it and just trust it will work out. That is how I got here.
Scott Barlow: When you got into the boot camp and you started going through and figuring out what you wanted to be doing what was the hardest part of that process?
Sarah Hawkins: I think I still had limitations in my mind because my physical issues that are on their way to being better but not there yet. I was capable of certain things but not necessarily confident in my ability to do what I really wanted. I did the work to figure out my strengths which was awesome but hard because when I first looked at the task I’d say I don’t know. I don’t know what I want to do or what my interests are. I really had to dig deep and sit with it for a while and think about it everywhere, at the grocery store and while working. I had to force myself to answer it like I was in a classroom and the teacher was waiting for an answer. I would start and before I knew it the page would be full or there would be multiple pages. I had more than I thought.
When you are unhealthy as I was and sick you stop dreaming and you stop hoping for your future. For a really long time I had stopped dreaming about a future and what I wanted to do, traveling or anything. You can’t go there because of where you are you think it will never happen and it is a disappointment to dream so you shut it off. It was hard to start it up again. If I could do anything what would it be? That hasn’t been an option for me in about 20 years. If I could do anything. In my mind I couldn’t do just anything. I had to temper it with what I’m physically able to do. It was hard to get out of the mindset that there are a lot of limitations on me; not as many as their used to be and it won’t always be that limited. Getting my hope back for my future.
Scott Barlow: That is a massive, like most people take 15 years to go through that mindset shift. That is huge.
Sarah Hawkins: It was for me. It made a big difference. I learned a lot about myself. I knew I wanted to help people and always liked that but it wasn’t until I looked at all my jobs and projects and looked at what I liked about all of them that I saw the theme that I really liked helping people. It’s really important to me because it’s what I’ve loved with everything I’ve done. I hadn’t made the connection before. For me my dream when I was healthier, was that when I retire I would love to do hands on disaster relief; helping people at their worst time. That is a physical thing. I had written it off as oh well. I called Lisa, one of the coaches, because it was time to figure out what companies you wanted to approach and I still had no clue. I knew my strengths but had no clue what I wanted or what was a good fit. I had pages of possible careers. Maybe any of them would work. She called it my runaway train of mind. They were all over the place. Part of the multipotentialite thing. I could be a writer or a logistics operator. All over the place. She helped me zero in. I said out loud, which I didn’t expect, was that my dream job would be disaster relief with a nonprofit. And she said hold on why are you looking at all of these other things then. I said I can’t do it yet because of the physical limitations. She helped steer me in the right direction that there are still other things that can fulfill that in the nonprofit world where you can be making a big difference in people’s lives that maybe isn’t as physical. That is what I did. That’s how I got this job. I hadn’t considered nonprofit before. It wasn’t on my radar.
Scott Barlow: That is cool and I know behind the scenes that not only did you go through the interview process, and entire process, from deciding that nonprofit could be an option for me, but you got the job and negotiated for the first time.
Sarah Hawkins: Yes I’ve never in my life negotiated a salary or position. I was always of a different mindset that maybe comes from my health problems that started in fourth grade and getting a hip replacement my freshman year of college which whittled away my confidence. Generally when I got a job I was just so grateful that they had picked me. I didn’t want to rock the boat or look ungrateful or greedy. I never ever would dream of negotiating. You guys gave me the confidence that it is okay and you can go about it the right way so there aren’t bad feelings. I definitely stressed ahead of time but I did it to push myself and try. If it didn’t work out then it probably wasn’t the right organization. I did and they were very receptive and did what they could. We restructured the job title.
Scott Barlow: Really you are a manager. You are a manager but we are tweaking some stuff so you can set it up to increase later on.
Sarah Hawkins: The job I was interviewing for was Operations Manager. The salary came in low. I said this is what I was hoping for how can we get this up to get closer to what I’m looking for. They said they couldn’t do much and gave a variety of reasons. They talked about it to see what they could do. They bumped it up slightly and said they would demote the title. Which at first you are like what? I’m sorry I negotiated. They said we will demote your title and then in a year that puts you on a path to get a promotion to Operations Manager which would give you a larger bump in salary with a promotion than what they can do within the same role as a starting salary or raise.
Scott Barlow: Based on their internal structure and board of directors. By the way, quick piece of advice from doing this a lot. Based on how you got into it you may be able to do that sooner than a year. Log in to the career change boot camp and look at the Get a Raise Guide which can guide you on how to do it sooner or go outside the boundaries of the policies. Small tidbit.
Sarah Hawkins: Thank you that would be great. So it worked out. I’m happy and they were willing to work with me and they are excited to have me come on board. That was difficult for me because I worried I had just edged out someone else and I thought they would just go with number two if I was difficult. I had to trust I could handle it and do it in a way that I didn’t appear to be difficult.
Scott Barlow: It’s that emotional rollercoaster at the end where you really want the job.
Sarah Hawkins: When I talked to Lisa on our negotiation call. She asked how I was feeling and I said I just hoped there would be one piece that wouldn’t be so hard. I hoped I wouldn’t have to negotiate because I really didn’t want to. It really took the excitement of the role out of it for me because of needing to negotiate. I got an offer but I have to negotiate. It was a roller coaster. I was happy, then devastated and scared. All over the place.
Scott Barlow: You did it anyway.
Sarah Hawkins: Yes and now I’ve done it and it won’t be so scary next time.
Scott Barlow: Exactly. You can do it the whole rest of your life. Congratulations again. That is super cool. I knew part of the story but not the whole thing. What you have done, are things that most people won’t do over their entire life. That is something to be proud of.
Sarah Hawkins: Thank you.
Scott Barlow: I’ve got to say thank you for letting us play a small part in it and for letting us push you a little bit. It’s turned out well for you. Thanks for making the time to come on and share your story because there is so much others can take from this. Our listeners are facing the same problems. It means a lot and I appreciate it.
Sarah Hawkins: Thank you for having me. I was happy to do it.
Episode Links and Resources
Guest: SARAH HAWKINS
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