Professionals Redefine Career Trajectories

“Time may change me, but I can’t trace time.” Those immortal words from the late David Bowie some 50 years ago have not only stood the test of time but may be more relative now than ever before when it comes to the workplace and the way Americans navigate their respective career landscapes. With a few exceptions aside, gone are the days of being locked into a single career with a single company, as many professionals are finding themselves more open to change not only in their companies but their fields as well.

Dr. Mary Hemphill

For Dr. Mary Hemphill, an educator of 20 years who had various roles in education as a teacher, school administrator, state director and Chief Academic Officer, the decision to make the change might have seemed all the more difficult from the outside looking in after two decades invested. However, four years ago, Hemphill made that leap, going from educator to entrepreneur when she started Limitless Leader, a company that focuses on doing what she is most passionate about – helping others realize their ultimate potential as individuals, as groups and as a society at large through coaching and different programs that inspire and educate professionals to take control of their destiny all while using the communication skills she honed as a teacher in a different capacity.

“I believe that, in order to show up in the world as our most authentic and powerful self, we must break from maximizing our full potential,” Hemphill says. If we want to create opportunities, pathways and impacts that shift our world into a more positive direction, then we need young adults, learning communities and leaders in organizations who are prepared to lead the movement.”

For others like Dr. Pamela Jackson-Smith, the decision to change careers can come from the most unlikely of places in the midst of a series of unforeseen and unfortunate circumstances. In 2020, Jackson-Smith had recently celebrated 10 years in her role as the Families in Transition (FIT) Liaison for Flagler County Schools, where she was designated to serve the community and ensure that students experiencing homelessness have access to educational opportunities and support services. While it was fulfilling, Jackson-Smith had recently endured a number of challenges, losing her husband of 18 years to illness in 2019, a traumatic brain injury after a fall and a medical evaluation that determined she would need open-heart surgery to replace a compromised heart valve.

Dr. Pamela Jackson-Smith

While enduring these challenges all in the span of a single year did ultimately mean that the best choice would be to retire from her position at FIT, it opened up a whole new world of inspiration, meaning and serving the community as a life coach at her own company Solopreneur, dedicated to helping individuals over the age of 50 find purpose. According to her, it is her ability to find perseverance through pain that has been one of the pillars she utilizes to help others.

“Life coaching often involves addressing diverse challenges and goals,” Jackson-Smith says. Being adaptable allows me, as a coach, to tailor my approach to meet the unique needs of each woman I work with – I provide an empowering coaching environment as I facilitate building a woman’s confidence and motivation through reinforcing positive behaviors and achievements.”

As many in their lives look forward to what lies ahead in their career and their lives in general, it is only natural to feel apprehension about the unknown. Question marks are not easy to face, but by putting one foot in front of the other, and as the story of these two women featured in this article exemplifies, it can be a varying degree of circumstances that bring us to those changes.

Perhaps it can be said that it is what we do with that change and the inevitable challenges that come with them that indicate how good we are at evolving and thriving.