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Episode #33: How I Found a Career That I Love

My Career Story

Welcome to the Confident Careerist Podcast for professionals just like you who place a high value on their career development and strive for success while also seeking work-life balance.

My name is Teena Evert and I am delighted to be your host. I’m a careerist myself and career development, leadership, and life coach. I love what I do and I hope that you enjoy the creation of this podcast and allow it to be an important tool in your toolbox that will help you to accelerate your success, gain greater confidence and happiness in your work-life. 

Research consistently shows that more than 50% of professionals in the workforce are unhappy in their position. With so many looking to make career changes, but not knowing how to achieve their goals, career and life coaching are becoming increasingly important.

Today I want to share my career story with you…

What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

We have all made career decisions. Some we are proud of and others we may regret.

Can you remember when you first had to start making decisions around what you want to do when you grow up? 

I can remember way back in the 5th grade when we had ‘career day’ at school. Professionals from different industries came to speak to our class about their vocation. I don’t remember very much about this particular day other than the change in our regular day-to-day schedule and that I judged whether or not I was interested in a particular vocation by the person’s gender and the uniform that they were wearing. Needless to say, no one made a strong impression on me and I was probably more focused on just surviving the school day, rather than what I was going to do or become in the future. 

My First Real Paycheck

When I was old enough to get my driver’s license, I immediately joined the workforce and got my first job busing tables at a Mexican restaurant. I loved earning my own money. It felt so much more rewarding than the allowance I earned from doing chores around the house, which had its limitations, I didn’t necessarily earn more for doing more. The big motivator for me was being able to earn more money so that I could have more opportunities to explore life and discover things that I liked doing. I also preferred to keep myself busy in a productive way and I believed that earning an income was the key to moving forward and having more options in life and to this day I agree with my early thinking about this! 

I started to fill my day with paid opportunities. At one point I was working three jobs. I would start at 6 am as a cashier at the local convenience store, then I would head to the Country Club to Lifeguard for the day, then dish out sweet treats at a Yogurt Shop until 11 pm. I was earning money almost every waking hour of my day. Working hard to earn a living and going on to college were important factors for me.

I wanted to create a life that was different from the one I was exposed to in the Midwest. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I felt like if I stayed too close to home, I would be stuck in an old limiting mindset. I wanted more than what I saw around me, but I had no idea what that was. So until I figured it out I got really good at working at a variety of seasonal jobs.

I Hated High School

My first few years of High School were rough. I wasn’t interested in getting good grades or applying myself much in my classes. They just didn’t interest me. I focused more on athletics because I felt it was something I had more control over managing. I struggled with low self-esteem and fell victim to mean girl drama and bullying. I hated High School but turned things around my Junior and Senior years when I realized that my GPA was important if I wanted to get into a good college. My parents also got divorced during this time, which was an added source of external stress and confusion. As a result, I worked hard to get good grades and got permission to leave school early during the week so that I could go to my job and skip out of my last period of study hall. 

I Had No Guidance, But I Made It to College

My life growing up lacked guidance. There was no one asking me questions about what I liked or didn’t like, what I wanted to do after High School or where I saw myself in the future. I just knew that I didn’t want to be stuck where I was then, so I had to push on to feel like I was moving forward and by default, the direction I chose was not very well thought out. 

I applied to colleges on my own. I was told I wouldn’t get into the college of my choice, which was a small liberal arts school in rural Ohio. I was persuaded to go to a large University where my older sister was enrolled, yet I had no interest. I ended up getting accepted into the small liberal arts school and if I went to summer school to improve my math skills I would eventually be accepted into the larger University. It was a no-brainer. I chose the school of my choice and off I went proving to those who told me I wouldn’t get in that they were wrong!

I struggled in my first quarter in college. There was just so much to adjust to academically and socially. I had a really hard time fitting in and managing my time and responsibilities. I had no clue what I wanted to major in and ended up choosing Biology for no reason other than I loved trees and the outdoors and never saw myself being behind a desk in an office working for a big corporation. I enjoyed the science labs and went on so many field trips that I ended up minoring in Geology.

Lots of Stress, Anxiety, and Indecisions

I remember the stress and anxiety of trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my college education. I would change my mind weekly and felt really lost and confused again with little to no true support or guidance. I kept my head down and plowed through doing what I had to do academically to graduate with a decent GPA so that I would have other opportunities ahead as my life unfolded.  

Graduating from college was both exciting and terrifying. I felt accomplished with a bachelor’s degree now in hand, but no plan in place for what I was going to do next. What do you do with a bachelor’s degree in Biology?

The Worst Job Ever

Within a few days after graduating, I hopped on a Greyhound bus that brought me to a rural area of Alabama where I worked as an Outdoor Adventure Camp Counselor for the summer.  This was one of my worst decisions. I earned $135/week and worked 24/7 with entitled kids from Birmingham who were out of control. I don’t know how I survived.

When the summer was over, I arrived back in Ohio and took a job at a Copy Shop for $5.25/hour. Within 6 months I was written up for not dressing professionally enough. I could barely afford to put gas in my car, and I was living at home. A horrible feeling when you’re a college graduate. I searched for deeper meaning, I longed for adventure, I had to get the heck out of the Midwest and definitely steer clear from the South, so I did some research and looked for opportunities where I could use my hard-earned degree and start paying back my college loan debt that was haunting me. 

I’m Moving to Alaska

Next thing I know I am up and moving to Alaska! It didn’t take long to make that pivot and off I went in the middle of Winter!  I took a job working as a Fisheries Technician for an Aquaculture Corporation that was in a remote region of Prince William Sound Alaska. It was the adventure I was longing for and I accepted the position and challenge with no hesitation.

I was in my early 20’s and I stayed in Alaska for 10 years. For the first 5 of those years, I worked in the Fishing Industry and used my Biology degree wisely. I attended some graduate school classes and took more remedial math classes to improve my chances of getting into graduate school, but nothing really interested me. I took a break from the cold one winter and went sailing in the Caribbean. A high-risk adventure that I would not recommend to a young 20 something-year-old female. I basically bought a one-way ticket to Antigua and walked to docks looking for an opportunity to learn to sail. I found it, but there was a cost. This is a story for another time. I headed back to Alaska.

Once I became clear that a graduate degree in the sciences was not my cup of tea, I started to dig deeper into the study of Kinesiology and understanding the mechanics of the human body. I took some classes at a massage school in Anchorage and begin to study therapeutic yoga and other forms of alternative healing.

Off to Thailand and India

I took off on another adventure to study Thai Massage in Thailand and then hopped over to India to live in an Ashram. This woke me up literally to a whole new world and kicked off my next career pivot into teaching yoga and doing bodywork for a living. It was a grind being self-employed in a very small and remote town in Alaska. I put my strong Midwest work ethic to use and had several season jobs to make ends meet, from being a Nature Guide, Kayak Guide, Boat Builder, Lab Tech, Fairground Security Guard to finally packing up and heading back down to the lower 48 to pursue advanced certification in a form of bodywork called Structural Integration, also known as Rolfing. 

Boulder Bound

This move took me to Boulder, CO, where I was like a kid in the candy store. There were so many opportunities to learn alternative forms of healing. There were actually hiking trails to follow rather than game trails. I got sucked into the Boulder scene and over the next 8 years, I became one of the many yoga instructors and Structural integration practitioners that put up a shingle on every street corner.

Of course, I didn’t stop learning and by now had a stack of various certifications to show my passion and knowledge base for what I was doing professionally, but it really didn’t amount to much in the mainstream workforce. I had a bachelor’s degree in Biology, a zillion yoga hours, and a dozen bodywork alternative healing certificates. I felt forced to work for myself and I did generate enough income to survive, but not enough to live well in Boulder. 

Finally, Grad School

So off I went to earn my master’s degree in Clinical Psychology so that I could earn a license to practice psychotherapy as a legitimate professional. I could finally put all of my prior pieces of training and certificates under my license where they would now be valued. This was a long road of academic study, internships, clinical practice, and exams. I eventually became dually licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist and a Licensed Addictions Counselor in the state of Colorado. 

I know what you might be thinking if you recall how my career path started out as a Fisheries Biologist, how did I make this jump towards Marriage and Family Therapy, and into the world of addictions. What is ironic about this is that I was pretty much estranged from my family, I had never been married and the only addiction I ever had was the addiction to being right! 

So let me explain. My master’s degree program in Clinical Psychology was designed for students to become Marriage and Family Therapists. Thereby being enrolled in this program naturally lead me down this path. Along the way, many of my professors, supervisors, and mentors convinced me to also get licensed in the addictions field because it would make me more employable. 

What Do I Really Want to Do? Who Do I Need to Be?

Now remember, for someone who lacked guidance most of her life, I was very easily influenced by my professors, supervisors, and academic mentors during this formative time in my life. I never stopped to really think about what I truly wanted or how my choices would lead me down a particular path. Many miles down my career road, I, of course, continued my education and got special training as a Trauma Therapist and Couple’s therapist. I dove in and immersed myself in learning to become an expert in this specialized niche in the mental health industry and I completely burned out. 

As I reflect back, it wasn’t a great fit for me. Many aspects of the mental health field are and all of the incredible skills that I developed and have are invaluable to my personal and professional life and for that I am grateful. However, it wasn’t until I crashed and burned from working with intense marital cases involving the most horrific trauma and abuse that you can imagine, that I realized my true calling. 

I Finally Landed in The Right Lane

Today, I stand with so much more inner strength and vitality, authentic confidence, and joy for the work that I am currently doing as a career development and life coach. I stumbled into this specialized area of study when I was faced with making a pivot in my career and began the transition into something new and different that would nourish and feed my soul and lifestyle.

As a careerist, I have found my lane so to speak and every day I claim the lead in my life, as I drive down my consciously chosen career path in the driver’s seat. I have created a career that supports my life rather than a life that supports my career.

My work gives me energy, flexibility, and the freedom to do things that I never thought were possible. I love to travel and ride my road bike, stay fit and healthy and go on adventures, as much as possible while still working and this has become a reality for me. 

Credentials, Credentials, and MORE Credentials!

It wasn’t until I was in my 40’s that I figured out my true purpose and meaning for my vocation. Prior to this, I followed breadcrumbs and slowly, but surely found my way. It’s amazing that I got here with very little external guidance, as I relied almost entirely on my own inner guide. Because of my diverse, different, and sometimes difficult career journey I am equipped to guide others so that they can accelerate the process and avoid going down too many dead-end roads. 

As a coach and a counselor, I provide valuable services that foster personal growth and professional development that leads to greater confidence, success, and happiness in your work- life. I offer a holistic and comprehensive approach as a career, life, and leadership coach that addresses the whole person in order to support work-life alignment and long-term job satisfaction.

I provide professionals with a structured process toward determining their next career step, setting goals based on knowledge of themselves and the market, and taking steps to realize their fullest potential.

I am equipped to provide you with the best support possible, as I’m recognized by the National Career Development Association (NCDA) as a Certified Career Counselor (CCC). I hold the Global Career Development Facilitator (GCDF) credential through the Center for Credentialing and Education (CCE).

I completed a rigorous training program and earned the Certified Career Transition Coach (CCTC) credential from Career Thought Leaders (CTL) which signifies understanding of coaching best practices and career decision-making processes. I’m also a Certified Hidden Job Market Coach (CHJMC), Certified Digital Brand Strategist (CDBS), and Academy Certified Resume and Profile Writer (ACRPW). I am also a Certified Conversational Intelligence Coach (CC-IQ) and a Licensed Mental Health Professional (LMFT) who values and understands the impact that mental and emotional health can have on the longevity of your vocation.

My clients can approach our work together with confidence, knowing that they will have the structure, flexibility, and resources they need to navigate some of life’s most important challenges.

Claiming the Lead

If you would like more individualized coaching and support, I provide professionals with a structured process toward determining their next career step, setting goals based on knowledge of themselves and the market, and taking steps to realize their career goals. 

Until next time – Be Confident!

Teena