The fifth annual Soirée Women’s Leadership Symposium on April 27 featured a series of breakout sessions for participants to attend ranging from trade insights to mindfulness. During the "Second Life" panel, three local professionals discussed their starting careers and what led them to transition into a different field.
Tamika Edwards, director of diversity, equity and inclusion at Southwest Power Pool, worked in politics for 11 years before making the switch. When the candidate she worked for lost re-election, Edwards said she felt lost at first, but soon found her footing in a career she was even better suited for.
"I’m glad that it happened the way that it did because it allowed me to pursue my passion, which was policy and advocacy," Edwards said.
Growing up, Kricia Palmer was always artistic and creative. A series of events in her life, however, led her down the medical track and her creative side took a backseat while she became a pediatric allergy and immunology physician. It was during her residency that Palmer first had an inkling that perhaps she had made a mistake.
"It was hard to admit to myself that maybe I wasn’t in the right place because I just wasn’t happy," Palmer said. "I missed that creative outlet, which is who I felt at my core was my most authentic self."
Palmer left medicine to stay home with her children for a few years after they were born. When she decided it was time to rejoin the workforce, she let her creative side take the reins and pursued interior design. She is now the founder and CEO of House Calls for Physicians where she provides design services for medical professionals.
Jane Kim, a labor and employment attorney at Wright Lindsey Jennings, got her start as a television news reporter. Although it was the job she dreamed of having since she was a small child, health issues in her early 20s led to a prolonged break in her career. Finding it hard to gain reentry, Kim decided to go to law school. The change was initially heartbreaking, Kim said, but she feels fortunate about her second chance.
"Most grown-ups don’t get to have two careers. Most grown-ups don’t get to learn a whole new set of skills," she said. "I get to use my journalism skills in my practice because it involves a lot of investigations, interviews and writing. So, it totally scratches my journalism itch."
The panelists also shared advice for others who may be looking to make a big change career-wise.
"Instead of looking at what you’re leaving as failure or something you quit, think of it in terms of, 'That part of my life is complete, and I’m ready to move on to the next thing.'" Palmer said.
Kim pointed to flexibility as the key.
'I learned during this process that I’m more flexible than I thought I was," she said. "And being flexible can lead to good things. If you’re open to change, you’ll learn something."
'Give yourself permission to try and give yourself grace to evolve," Edwards added. "Give yourself permission to change."