My path to the Career Design Fellowship
I graduated from college and had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. It felt like too big of a question to answer and I had no idea how to figure out what the right path was for me. I ended up taking an entry-level role in sales and quickly figured out what I didn’t want to do. I remember calling my parents crying after that first week in the role telling them how much I hated the job and asking them for their secrets to success as an adult, how to do it, and what steps to take.
I realized two things during that call. The first was that being an adult is not all that it’s cracked up to be and school did very little to prepare me for that. The second was that I could complain all I wanted but at the end of the day my parents could never give me the answers, only I could change my situation and work for something better. I didn’t know how to do that yet but I knew I had to figure it out.
Fast forward a few years and I ended up staying at that same company for four years, working through that entry-level sales position into a manager role on the HR team. I thought I had figured out the answer to success in “the real world” that I had asked my parents four years earlier. I assumed that to achieve a successful career you just had to stick it out and make it work.
This strategy worked for a while until I realized how unhappy I was. Everything seemed to line up, I worked for a great company that I believed in, I had a great team and a wonderful manager, I was challenged in my role and I made a difference at the company. On paper, everything seemed fine, but I knew deep down that this wasn’t the career path for me.
I ended up leaving my role, road tripping around the country for two and a half months, before landing back on my feet again just as confused as I was graduating from college. Lost and uncertain about what to do next, I fell back into my old belief system that I just had to stick it out and make it work so I got another role in HR and did just that.
The journey begins
The Career Design Fellowship came at this exact moment in my life when I knew for certain that what I was doing and the path I was taking just wasn’t working. I once again knew that something needed to change and only I could change it, but I just didn’t know how to go about it. I thought I was alone in this feeling because when I looked around at my network and my friends, from the outside it looked like everyone else had it all figured out.
When I started the Fellowship, I learned quickly that this is far from the truth. I was welcomed into a community of peers who, despite our different ages, backgrounds, and job titles, had similar doubts, concerns, and questions. Together we reflected on what a successful career looks like to each of us, what our biggest limiting beliefs were about ourselves that got in the way of carving out a path towards greater happiness, and we committed to action and making changes together.
I thought I knew what my skills were and what my potential career path options might be, but I was surprised by what my peers in the Fellowship had to say. They heard me talking about wanting to use my creativity, about my passion for health and fitness, and my entrepreneurial spirit. They asked questions that pushed me and forced me to think outside of the box I was keeping myself in. It was because of the Career Design Fellowship and those tough questions I never dared ask myself that I finally felt brave enough to go out and start my own business.
I had always dreamed about creating something of my own and designing a life for myself, but I never thought it was possible or realistic. The Career Design Fellowship gave me the tools, the network, and the confidence to actually seriously consider it and go for it.
Launching my business
It wasn’t easy to come to that decision, and it wasn’t immediately obvious either. I went through the Fellowship just as the whole world was changing due to COVID-19. My whole world, like so many others, flipped upside down. My job came to an end, the volunteer work I was doing that I hoped might lead to a career change was canceled, and all of a sudden I felt like I had backpedaled 20 steps.
I finished the Fellowship not only with so many ideas, a great network, tools, and resources, but also with a global pandemic. I decided I could let the circumstances crush me or I could use my situation as an opportunity to finally delve into the curiosity that the Fellowship sparked within me. After I lost my job I had a choice to either seek out another HR role and continue on this path that no longer motivated me, or I could listen to the advice of my Fellowship team and start building something of my own.
Even though it scared me (and it still does!) I decided that building a business of my own was worth the risk. I knew that I would be more upset with myself if I never tried than if I tried and failed. It is now nine months into a global pandemic and I have officially launched my own freelance copywriting and content marketing business, specializing in the health and fitness industry. I help health and fitness businesses develop action-oriented content that builds their audience, drives traffic to their site, and increases sales.
I’m still very much in the launch phase of my business, and although it has taken a lot to get to where I am today, I still have so much to do to make this successful. It seems like the to-do list only gets longer with every item I check off the list but the difference is that I am so excited about it. Every day comes with new challenges, new things to learn, and new ideas to explore. I am in control of everything that happens in this business and that is equal parts scary and liberating.
While I don’t know where I’ll be in six months with this business, if it will work or if it will fail, I know that I’m a happier person because of this decision. I’m learning and pushing myself outside of my comfort zone and am excited for whatever comes next.
Follow your curiosity
What I didn’t realize on that day on the phone crying to parents that I know now is that you don’t have to have all the answers, you just have to follow one curiosity after another and piece it together like a thousand-piece puzzle. If the piece doesn’t fit or doesn’t work, you put it aside and try another one.
There is no one path to success but the key is to listen to your curiosities and follow them. You might end up down some dead ends, but eventually, you find yourself on a path that brings you great personal fulfillment and purpose. For me, the Career Design Fellowship took me down a path I never imagined for myself, and I am excited to see where it leads.
Megan Clark is a freelance copywriter and content marketing specialist with a passion for elevating fitness and health brands through accurate, authentic, and action-oriented content. As a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, RYT-200 certified yoga instructor, and all-around fitness fanatic, Megan brings her passion for the health and fitness space to her work with clients helping them drive sales and increase website traffic. Connect with Megan on LinkedIn or check her out at www.meganelizabethclark.com.