02/01/2023 by Kori Burkholder
Empowering People to Thrive: My Journey from Teaching to Becoming a Licensed Mental Health Counselor
When Isabella reached out for support, she shared, "I just closed the teaching chapter on my career journey and struggled to clarify what to do next. I had ideas of what I was good at and passionate about, but I didn’t know what to do with those ideas. That’s when I found Kori".
Get inspired by Isabella's story: from having a few general ideas about her passions and career direction to gaining clarity and insight into what to pursue next.
I had taught kids for a couple of years, tutoring, working in various schools, and camp counseling. I am good at teaching, but teaching has been very stressful, and I often struggled in that career with many negative experiences and a lot of stress.
So I was deciding what to try next.
It was difficult when I would send out resumes or look around, thinking,” oh, I'll try sales,” or “I’ll be a financial planner,” or I'll try this or that. I knew what I didn't want, but I was licking my wounds, and I didn't know what that “other thing” was, and I was applying for jobs that I didn't even want or care about, but I didn't know what else to do.
That’s when I found Kori. I had just closed the teaching chapter, and I was struggling to find clarity on what do I do next. I had ideas of what I was good at and passionate about, but I didn’t know what to do with those ideas.
A big a-ha moment for me was one of the personality tests because we had already made a list of any possible things I could be interested in, and in the first or second session, I mentioned grad school. One of those personality tests mentioned people with my personality type typically goes for counseling. So it was that, plus we had talked about how, in my teaching, I had seen kids who were not thriving and not interested in being there. So it was a combination of realizing why I was unhappy teaching because my job was to teach them math instead of genuinely interested in how they were doing.
Initially, Some of the exercises were difficult because they asked for career success stories from teaching. That was hard for me, but we got three good moments, which gave us answers regarding how I want to help people.
The three most significant results from this process were gaining new skills and confidence in myself and moving from home with my parents in New Jersey to Virginia. I moved to Virginia because I'm now in grad school to become a licensed clinical mental health counselor!
The moment I got clarity was in one of our sessions where the word “thrive” kept coming up. I was trying to explain why teaching was sometimes frustrating and how I wanted to help empower people. And then Kori helped me put it into words that I “wanted to help people thrive.”
That was another moment of clarity when I realized what bothered me about teaching. I wasn’t helping people feel empowered. So from there, it was figuring out the career direction. Could it be becoming certified as a life coach or going back to school for different types of therapy? I chose grad school. I’m pursuing this degree to help people from all walks of life and focus on empowering people to get solutions and coping strategies.
In between school starting, there were five months, so the other accomplishment was getting a retail position at Kate Spade at a local mall outlet for a seasonal sales job. I’d never worked in retail before, so this was a chance to make some money and learn new skills, and I learned a lot, and it turns out I'm pretty good at sales! I won sales awards for top sales within the first few weeks. After that, I got recognized for top sales per hour for quite a few weeks. I remember taking a picture of the board where our names appeared because I was not used to getting positive recognition at work. As it turns out, I have always loved communicating and connecting with people, helping customers, and striking up a conversation making them feel comfortable. That retail experience helped me land a job at the campus bookstore!
Everybody should do this work because it gives you invaluable tools and support, and I even gained a different vocabulary. So often, I would be rambling, and then Kori would help me translate that into a skill or a skill to develop.
If you're in your job and wondering why it does not feel right, this process helps you realize exactly the reasons. So you should commit to it. It'll change your life!
Watch the interview with Isabella:
P.S And, whenever you’re ready... here are four ways we can help you get unstuck and grow your purpose-driven career:
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