As I sit here and write this, I still feel the sense of awe and wonder of how it all came together. Of how my greater purpose and plan revealed itself to me in what seemed like an instant during what felt like the longest journey.
Nine months ago, I packed up my classroom materials–6 years of books, boxes of school supplies full of stickers, composition notebooks, and teaching trinkets I had accrued over the years. Every sticker, stamp, and pen had also accrued a meaning and memory behind them. They were the stickers of celebration, pens that wrote notes of affirmation and showed my love for my kiddos, and stamps that had become an extension of my body. Instead of packing my materials away for the summer, this time, I was packing away my materials for good. I was closing the chapter to a damn good story.
Teaching middle school English was by far the most transformational experience I’ve had in my life. I’ve had the privilege of serving hundreds of students and families in both the D.C. region and in Brooklyn, New York. The families and students I’ve crossed paths will always have a special place in my heart. When I think of my kids, their potential, their stories, and the immense joy they have brought into my life…I can’t help but get emotional. There has never been a greater joy I have felt in my life than to serve my students and families as a teacher. You’re never really “just a teacher.” You’re their mentor, confidant, coach, parent/family member, counselor, cheerleader, or even…a “BFTF.” That’s right, “best friend teacher friend” as one of my students once called me. (Ugh, I miss kids for that reason!)
But as I closed out on my sixth year of teaching, I made the hardest decision I have ever made–to leave it all behind and start fresh. I worked hard to build a meaningful career as an educator and could have saw myself as a lifelong classroom teacher. But as someone who is also multi-passionate, I wrestled hard with my desire to try new things or stay in the classroom–somewhere that was safe and the pathway that seemed like the natural route for me.
People don’t talk about the mental toll that teaching can take on you–especially when working in low-income underserved communities. I gave my all-every fiber of my being- to my job and the students that I taught. I cared, and still care, deeply about the work and the mission of closing the education and opportunity gap for students of color. It will always be a mission that I believe in. But truthfully speaking, I ran myself on empty. Living on the east coast for 6 years on my own, being 3,000 miles away from my family while working at an extremely rigorous charter school, finally took a toll on me. I hit my rock bottom–both mentally and physically– and knew I couldn’t stay in the classroom. I knew I couldn’t show up and serve my kids when I wasn’t 100%. I felt creatively stifled. I felt that I was hitting a wall in my development. I craved growth in new ways. I needed to put myself first and do what was best for me.
And so with that, I packed up my NY life and made the trek back to California without a concrete plan. As a planner and someone who has had a pretty linear life path, this was one of the scariest things I’ve done.
When I sat down to start the application process, I found myself overwhelmed. I wasn’t quite sure what the role I was looking for, but I knew I wanted to transition into a role in edtech (education technology)/tech in general. My ultimate goal was to stay close to education and transition to a role where I could leverage my teaching expertise, but I quickly learned that even with my education background, it was hard to get my foot in the door at these companies.
I applied to over 70 jobs over the course of my 8 month job search. I scoured the internet every day for new job openings. I wrote dozens of specific cover letters trying to show companies the value I’d bring from my teaching experience. I spent hundreds of hours reading over job descriptions, curating my resume for each specific role, interviewing folks in the industry, and researching ways on how to switch careers. For every job I applied to, only a handful would return one of those automated rejection e-mails and the rest I never heard from. I found that time and time again, companies were looking for people with direct experience in that particular role or field. Rejection after rejection, I began to feel discouraged.
Out of the 70 applications though, I was extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to interview at a couple top tech companies and found myself experiencing imposter syndrome. Is this something I can really do? Are these the roles I really want? Am I good enough to really do this? It was a brand new world to me–learning tech jargon and how to masterfully show how my years as an educator would be transferrable to these new roles. The interview processes took anywhere from 5-8 weeks with intense video interviews, onsite panel interviews, projects, and follow-ups. As I went through some of the most difficult interview processes I’ve ever experienced, I knew that my desire to make this career switch was greater than ever before. I started to realize that I could take on these roles–it was a matter of whether or not it truly fit my passions.
As I interviewed at these top tech companies, I got my hopes up. I was certain that one of them would make me an offer. I went through 3 interview cycles for 3 different roles…all of which took 5-7 weeks each. It was exhausting to say the least–and each ended up with devastating news: no offer.
Getting rejected after putting in so many hours of work, prep, and emotional energy into these interviews was devastating. I felt myself getting discouraged and felt so disappointed in myself. I started to question whether or not make this career switch was the right move for me.
And then, I received a text that changed the course of my journey for me.
My good friend whom I connected with while I was living in NY sent me a text one day–he let me know that he met a recruiter from a company and said that I should look into applying. When he told me the company, my jaw dropped. It was my dream edtech company. I had already applied to a role there but got a rejection e-mail a couple months prior.
I jumped at the opportunity to send this recruiter an e-mail and in that process, I discovered the recruiter and I had a mutual connection on LinkedIn. This mutual connection? One of my best friends from college. It turns out my college best friend’s significant other is related to the recruiter. How crazy small is this world? What are the odds that my friend would meet this person who would turn out to have a connection in my personal life? I get chills just thinking about how this chance encounter was meant to be. And this is when I knew that the plan was unfolding the way it should.
You see, this is where God comes in and completely reveals the plan for me. During my first 6 months of applying, I kept getting doors closed on me. I couldn’t understand why I was getting through these interview cycles and making it all the way to the end only to receive no offer. I remember after my third interview cycle and rejection, I decided to let go and let God. I prayed that He would reveal my purpose and plan for me and that the role that I really wanted would someone show up for me. Looking back at it all, I needed those doors to be closed so that I could be lead to the right door.
What’s crazier is that at the end of it all, I ended up receiving three job offers. When it rains, it truly pours. I went through months of rejection and closed doors to only be given 3 opportunities–all of which were amazing. But most importantly, I was offered my dream role at my dream edtech company. Two weeks ago, I accepted this opportunity and I’m still blown away by the entire journey and how it manifested.
I share my story to let you know that there IS a plan for you. That the road and journey to anything worthy requires risk. It requires failure. It requires that doors be shut so that the right door can be opened for you. It requires an unrelenting belief in yourself and resilience to get back up every time you’re knocked down. To lean on the Lord when you’re uncertain. To trust in your journey and know that you have a purpose in life. The plan for you is greater than any other you could design yourself.
I think back to how scary the journey was at the beginning. How small I felt in a sea of applications and how much anxiety I felt about making a 360 pivot from the classroom into tech. I remember the sting of the rejections. The countless e-mails and calls letting me know that they would “not be moving forward with me” for that role.
And I think back to how incredible God’s plan is. How he placed those opportunities for me before I interviewed for my dream job because I needed those moments to prepare me for the one that was ultimately right for me. I gained such a new found confidence in my own ability–I know my worth, the talents I bring, and how to communicate my experiences so that they’re transferrable to new industries. I think back to how God closed those doors so that He could ultimately open new doors for me. This time off allowed me to physically and mentally heal. This time off allowed me to tap into my creative passions, start a podcast, and do the things that I’ve always wanted to do. Looking back, the timing of it all was not by mistake. It was exactly what I needed.
This journey taught me the importance of having patience. To be patient with your plan and journey and that good things come in time. It taught me perseverance. To not give up when a door closes. To view rejection as redirection. To keep pushing and inching forward toward your goals even when they seem so far away. And lastly, it taught me the power of prayer. I felt that things began to fall into place when I put my trust in God in stead of trying to make things work on my own timeline.
And in less than a week, I start my next chapter. Craziest part? My first week on the job is in NYC. I start my new journey in the city that I left from. It’s a full circle moment that feels surreal. I feel so extremely blessed. I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given and could not be more excited for my future that lies ahead.
And if you’ve read this far, I’d love to hear from you! Have you ever made a career switch? Or are you currently wanting to take the leap of faith and do the same? Let me know if you want to hear more about what I did to make the career switch and if you’d like tips and tricks!
Thank you for reading and for supporting me on this journey. It’s been the wildest of rides but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Cheers to new chapters!
What I’m Wearing:
- Mid-rise ankle Harper pant from Old Navy; on major sale for $14.97!!
- I used to buy a LOT of my workwear pants from Old Navy as a teacher. They are comfy, affordable, and look way more expensive than they are!
- My top is old from NY and Company but here are some similar tops!
- My mint blazer is old from last year but here are similar options:
- Block heel mule from Target; $27.99
- These are SO comfy and such a cute shoe for work or play!