a cobblestone street lined with brick buildings that lead to the Brooklyn Bridge

New York: a catalyst for change and a better tomorrow

Every time I’ve changed my career path, a trip to New York has been at the heart of it all. Maybe it’s the boundless, pulsing energy or the resiliency of the people who call it home, but there’s something in that city that makes you feel like everything is possible.

"No, you can't imagine it though. The energy when you're actually there. You're just part of something bigger than you, that's moving faster than you. Your dreams are-- just everything feels limitless."

- Ryan Howard, The Office: Season 4, Episode 4

When I traveled to New York for the first time in 2015, I went with the dream of becoming a teacher. I was going to do Teach for America and change the world one child at a time. Growing up, adults would tell me that I had the energy of a children’s TV show host and that if given a chance, I should be the next “Steve” on Blue’s Clues. And yet, after being in New York, I felt like more was out there for me. Now, that’s not to say I don’t still love kids or don’t want to change the world. Heck, I’d still love to host Blue’s Clues! But I realized there were other ways I could impact the world without it taking so much of myself. After everything that’s happened in the years since, the heartbreaking rise in school shootings and the overburdening of teachers to do more with less out of their own pockets during the greatest pandemic in 100 years, I think I made the right choice for me. I endlessly applaud the incredible people who continue to teach, in any capacity, day after day, year after year. Teachers are the lifeblood of communities, and our society would be even more broken without them.

After I decided not to pursue education as a profession, I still wanted to use my skills to make a difference in the world. I started volunteering with my college’s annual fund as a member of the Senior Gift Council. By my senior year, I was the President of the Student Philanthropy Council in its inaugural year. With my new aspirations, I went to New York again just before graduation in 2017, this time to decide if I would like living in the Big Apple and working at a major non-profit. While I loved every minute of this trip, and it's one that I will always hold dear, it was this trip that told me that New York wasn’t going to be in the cards for me as a long-term home. The unlimited energy I found so inspiring was knocking me, pardon my french, on my ass. It was like riding a rip current; I didn’t know how to swim free. Growing up in a small “major” city, I don’t think I knew what was possible in a city as large as New York, not to mention that my entire community was still on the opposite coast. While it may not have been a full-fledged career change at first, this trip helped me calibrate my expectations and desires for my future. What was it that I really wanted out of living in New York? I wanted a change, a challenge. I could find that in a smaller non-profit in my hometown. The prestige and sleeplessness that is New York aren’t for me. Only after returning home did I realize that I could achieve the best of both worlds, New York energy and the familiarity and community of home. I would be a flight attendant: unlimited travel on someone else’s dime.

I was a flight attendant for only six months. The glory and glamour of being a flight attendant just isn’t what everyone thinks it is. The training was a breeze and even as someone who hates turbulence, I knew I was ready for anything but actual flying was nothing like what I hoped. You’re at the beck and call of your airline. You can forget about having a sleep schedule or seeing any of your family members for important events. I have never been so sick for so many consecutive days in my life. It was when I was assigned a trip to New York for a 10-hour layover that I realized what I thought was my dream job at my dream airline was slowly melting away into a nightmare. I needed a job that would keep my feet on the ground for more than a few hours at a time. In tears, I felt I had to change my career again. I felt so lost, so I looked to my alma mater for help. As I checked the open job postings, wouldn’t you know that there was an open role with the team I had volunteered with during my time as the President of the Student Philanthropy Council? New York had once again opened the door for another career change.

As New York would have it, that wasn’t the end for me. Four years later, a dear friend moved out to New York, so my fiancé, my best friend, and I booked tickets for a one-of-a-kind, whirlwind trip for 4 days in New York. We wanted to see our friend and this new life she had built for herself, and we couldn’t wait. The planning started in the summer for an early October trip, and by the time the trip finally arrived, it felt like my whole life had changed again. My fiancé became my husband. Members of my family had fallen ill. My job was drowning me in enough work for five people. Every moment was like an out-of-body experience, and I couldn’t regain consciousness. It was thinking about New York and the strength it gave me to make tough, life-changing decisions at so many points in my life that made me realize another change was brewing for me. And once again, New York was the catalyst.

In September 2022, I quit my stable, 9-5 job to live a life I love and success looks different now. Success is waking up every day next to my husband or our dog since she likes to steal the middle of the bed, travel, great food, and time with loved ones. I’m writing for myself, other small businesses, and ​​hopefully soon for major publications. I’m following my skills and passions and chasing what matters to me. This next phase of my career looks wildly different than anything I ever expected.

New York is a force to be reckoned with and a signal of hope for countless people around the world. Being a west coast girl, I never anticipated the role that New York has played in my life, but she is at the center of every significant career change I’ve ever made and I couldn’t be more grateful.

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