It would start Sunday nights – the stomach aches, the head aches, and dread. I was miserable knowing I had to go to work in the morning, and it was starting to impact not only my excitement about professional opportunity, but negatively impacting my body also. I knew, more than anything, I needed a change. A big change.
Educated as an engineer, analysis of what would go into that change was going to be part of the process. Undoubtedly! The big questions for me were:
- Why am I making this change so I feel exceptionally satisfied with my work at the next job?
- Where have I been and where do I want to go in my career?
- Who inspires me?
- What do I want to spend my days doing?
These questions were not easy to answer immediately. I spent significant time soul searching, chatting with friends about their own careers, scouring career sites, attending alumni events for both undergrad and grad schools, and networking with anyone and everyone I respected, admired, and was interested to spend time with.
There were two particular additional tools that ultimately helped me shape my search toward real estate:
- Reflecting back on what I enjoyed the most in my career
- The Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
As a young civil engineer I had the opportunity to take the day-to-day reigns under guidance of a Professional Engineer and later a Professional Architect in a role of Owner’s Project Manager for a busy airport in New England. As OPM, you represent the interests of the owners with other parties, yet as a third party. It is a challenging position but work that I loved. I strived to understand the mission and challenges of the owner to the point where our success was intertwined. As much as the big picture was energizing, the details became enchanting. For about 18 months I worked on this set of projects and received unsolicited, exuberant feedback from just about everyone I worked with. This positivity gave me a sense that this type of role, working for and as the owner, was something for which I had talent and affinity.
The MBTI assessment was something I had taken a few years earlier at the WPI Career Development Center, coached on my results by an amazing friend who is now a Director there. I was unabashedly an ESTJ, known as “The Executive” or “The Guardian”: practical, traditional, organized, visionary, hard-working, loyal, leader, and great at bringing people together. When you research the terms “ESTJ careers”, several fields consistently appeared, with one striking my fancy: Sales Representatives, Law Enforcement Officers, Military, Teaching, Coaching, and Real Estate. Real Estate was a field that I could use my MBA that I had just completed and my experience was relevant – I would be working with people in exactly the roles I had performed earlier in my career. It was a matter of now desiring to sit in another chair at the table!
My network was helpful to me once I understood and could communicate my goal and desired opportunity. Surprisingly, the opportunity I earned and am happy to be working in today came from an online posting, and joined a company where I knew no one – quite contrary to all of the career advice out there! It took effort, thoughtfulness, and creativity to tie my personal story together in a way that showed I could help fill the gaps needed by my now current company, AvalonBay Communities. I wake up each Monday, excited to go to work. Sundays are enjoyable now, and perhaps I sometimes feel even a bit anticipatory of the week ahead!
Career dreams can come true. Work can be enjoyable, fun, and rewarding – not work at all. It takes conscious thoughts and efforts to transform direction, and sometimes considerable time. Don’t be afraid to use any and all tools available to you! Life has a wonderful way of working out when you work hard for what you want.