A couple weeks ago, I began Part 1 of Changing Your Career in Your 30's with an interview from our Creative Producer & Stylist, Julia, who left her career as a reality show producer to find her true passion of styling and crafting. Today, I'd like you to meet Courtney, an attorney who left her own law practice just a few months ago to pursue a career change (soon after turning 30) and now works at Oh Joy!
Courtney Ketchersid, my Executive Assistant, manages all the administrative tasks of Oh Joy—including my schedule, email correspondence, coordinating blog posts, interacting with clients and sponsors, social media, and sooo many other things. She began at Oh Joy only a few months ago after leaving her own law practice to pursue a new direction in her career. Not only did she change careers but she also went from being self-employed to working for someone else which isn't a story you hear very often. Here's Courtney's story as interviewed by me...
I was licensed to practice for 4 ½ years. I was self-employed and had all the stresses of running my own business on top of practicing law (accounting, marketing, scheduling, etc.). I found that I liked running the business more than I liked practicing law. But even more, I was working alone and missed working with other people.
How did you feel about the idea of leaving a career that you were so used to and good at?
In some respects I really liked what I did and felt like I had finally gotten a good grasp on how to practice law. I was an estate planning and probate attorney, and I was working to make sure that people were going to be well taken of in their declining years and their families were provided for at their death. I had no hesitation about leaving that career though. There is a lot of pressure to get things done right—not only from a legal standpoint, but to make sure that I serve my clients faithfully. There is also the stigma of being an attorney (and a female attorney), that I was happy to leave behind!
What made you decide to take the leap to make the change?
The combination of no longer wanting to be self-employed, not enjoying my practice, and the desire to work with more people, made me got serious about finding something else. I was looking for more administrative work in a more creative company. I spread the word to my friends and family, and my brother had a colleague who saw Joy's posting for her position on her personal Facebook page. The job opportunity at Oh Joy! was what I wanted, the timing was right, and everything fell into place so the “leap” felt more like the natural next step. I did a video call with Joy for the first interview, flew to LA for a second interview, and was offered the job the day after that. I packed up my apartment in Dallas and moved to Los Angeles two weeks later.
Were you apprehensive about a change in pay because you were starting a new career and going from a lawyer's salary to an admin salary? What made you feel okay with the change in salary?
As most self-employed people know, income is not always dependable. I would have great months and scary slow months (and self-employment tax!). You save and get smart about money as you learn the ins-and-outs of self-employment, and ideally, your client base grows and money becomes less of a concern. Ideally. But the idea of a steady paycheck was very nice. The job change is still new, and the budgeting is still in process. I know for people my age—particularly those who went through seven years of expensive undergrad and grad school—school loans are a concern. I was able to make pay off a lot of my school debt while practicing law, so that helped me now feel a little calmer about a change in pay for this new job.
Did you feel like you had “wasted” your law degree by going into a career that didn’t require that? Or do you feel it has still helped you in your new job?
Law school was such a fun time in my life and also a stressful one! I have always been “good” at school—following along, reading, writing, and getting good grades come easily to me. Law school wasn’t a huge toll on my mental or emotional health like it can be for some. It actually boosted my self esteem and convinced me I could tackle anything. So I don’t think my law degree was a waste. Expensive? Oh, absolutely! But law school teaches you more than just law. It taught me about critical thinking, how to read, how to write, and how to do all of it quickly and efficiently. All of those skills are things I use everyday at Oh Joy! and are absolutely an advantage for me.
Now that you’re in your new job/career, how has your life changed?
I'm a lot less stressed and learning everyday. I’m happiest when my mind is active, and this job is opening up an entire new world to me and giving me opportunities to learn brand new things. Everyone in the studio is so talented and sees the world in a completely different way which is very inspiring and humbling to watch. I am still adjusting to the new job, working to understand processes and how to do my work correctly and efficiently. But I genuinely like coming in to work (and am making fewer and fewer mistakes…so, progress!).
How do you think your new job/career has changed the future of where you want to be in the next 10 years?
Ten years? I’m still unsure about the next ten minutes! What I do know? This career change has shown me there is a place where I can both thrive and be happy. I like coming into work, I like what I do, and I feel like I can get to a level where I will do it really well! I like to say that “my kind of creativity is organization”. This new career is proving that to me everyday, and I love it.
What would you tell others considering a career change?
If you are considering a career change, it is likely because something is not right with your current career. Make that move beyond “considering”! A couple tips:
1. Be informed and think things through. It’s not a rash decision to make...particularly if you have a family that depends on you! I was lucky in that I don’t have a husband or kids relying on my income. My move from Texas to California didn't affect anyone but me.
2. Ask for advice. There are older and/or wiser people in your life that likely have insight. There are also people in your life who care about you and want the best for you (often the same people). See what they think! My parents and family are the best, and totally encouraged me to start this new adventure (after making me go through a financial spreadsheet and pros/cons list)!
3. It’s never too late! It’s never too early! Don’t let excuses limit you.