Professional Development Guide
Andrea Kay has accomplished what so many people wish they could. More than 20 years ago Kay, of Fort Thomas, left an unsatisfying career in marketing and communications to be her own boss.
She left her previous career, seeking a work experience about which she felt more passionate while also putting her communication skills to good use. Now she’s known as one of the country’s leading career experts and still displays that passion with a new book debuting this month and her first-ever Career Boot Camp planned in Cincinnati.
“My background is in communications, advertising and internal communications. The year was 1987, and I was on a mission to explore what was nudging at me. I liked what I did as a writer, but the thing that was missing for me was a purpose, more meaning. There was something bigger I was supposed to be doing with my skills,” Kay says.
Kay, though highly successful, said her experience is not unique. That’s why she’s working to help others discover their own dream careers.
Kay’s many endeavors include leading career coaching workshops, writing newspaper articles and op-ed pieces, public speaking, and book writing, all centered on career development and enhancement. She works with both women and men (though the majority of her current clients are women), leading them into new careers or making progress in their current ones.
“I was asking myself a lot of questions. I asked myself, ‘How do I want to make a difference?’ I was freelancing in San Francisco and talking to people about careers. Nobody knew what they wanted to do, and I realized that was the thing I wanted to help people with. It was this whole idea of self-expression,” Kay says, remembering the start of her business.
There are many reasons women, and men, choose to change careers, Kay says. Sometimes they’re forced into it after being laid off or “downsized.” Other times they just don’t like the early career path they chose, have retired or want a new life challenge.
Some women choose second careers that focus on helping others, like teaching, social work or the military. Still others choose a path like Kay, becoming their own boss or finding their particular career niche through opening a small business.
In fact, between 1997 and 2006, women-owned or majority women-owned firms grew twice the rate of all other U.S. firms, 42.3 percent versus 23.3 percent, according to the Center for Women’s Business Research.
KayIn the last five or six years, more people are coming to her looking for a second career, Kay says. And in 2006, she took her own experience in changing careers and put them into a book to guide others called, “Life’s a Bitch and Then You Change Careers: 9 Steps to Get Out of Your Funk and On to Your Future.”
“I have such a connection with (finding a second career) personally. I can speak from that, as well as capture the essence of my experience. Most people are fearful to make that change. One of the things I talk about in the book is facing those fears,” she says.
Fear of financial difficulties is among those, but it can be overcome, she says.
“One of the biggest issues I hear is, ‘I can’t afford it.’ But how do you know what you can’t afford if you don’t even know what you are changing?” Kay says. “Finding a new career doesn’t necessarily mean you quit your job and go to school for four years. Maybe you ease into a career change.”
And eHow, an online “How To Guide,” offers these specific steps on starting a second career:
- Find your passions and decide what you want out of your career.
- Identify what you do well and what you enjoy doing at work.
- List what you’d like to find in your second career. Consider environment, activities and types of people you prefer.
- Do the research on your passions.
- Choose the most suitable passion to develop a second career.
- Figure out what skills and experiences translate to your new field. Look into the necessary education or certification requirements.
- Consider the expenses. Look at your current financial situation, including salary, benefits and debt. Draft a list of costs for making your transition, including training or setting up an office. Be sure to look at any investments you have made in retirement funds pension plans that might be rolled over or, if you qualify, withdrawn to help fund your second career.
- Make a commitment to start now. Take the first steps by starting to incorporate some passions into your life. Take some coursework, do some networking or volunteer to get experience.
Nancy Riesz has a story similar to Kay’s. She left an unsatisfying job to join the ranks of the self-employed, creating her own unique career.
Riesz, of North Bend, Ohio, recently celebrated 15 years as CEO of Success Catalyst. She is a consultant who teaches managers how to be better bosses through a variety of ways, including training, seminars, breakout sessions and retreats.
Like many who leave the corporate work world to strike out on their own, Riesz felt there was a more satisfying work life awaiting her. She’d spent most of her early career in the healthcare industry. Among her secrets is becoming an expert in what you do.
“I want people to know that I am the best at something,” Riesz says.
Coming into a second career, especially one where you work for yourself, isn’t easy and has many facets, Reisz says.
“There is no magic formula. It takes persistence and tenacity and work and doing the things that need to be done. I’m always networking, offering tele-classes and seminars, and I write articles in different places,” Riesz said.
No matter how hard it is to make a change, both Kay and Riesz agree that finding your career passion can bring great joy in life.
“It takes hard work, and it costs money,” Kay says. “It takes risk, it’s scary, but boy is it a fun time in my life.”
Photo: Neysa Ruhl Photography
Location: The McAlpin
Models: Ron Hollman of The McAlpin and Kristina Lopez of New View Management Group, Inc.
Makeup Artistry: Chenese Bean Makeup Artistry
Hair Styling: Robin Howard, Ruckus Glamour Studios