Naomi Shah and Chelsea Miller took a leap of faith and chose a non-traditional path for their careers.
Shah began her career on the trading floor at Goldman Sachs, but quickly realized that that wasn't what she wanted to do long term. Now she is making romantic comedy podcasts and using her experience from the venture capital firm.
“I had ended up spinning it out of the VC firm that I was working at, and starting all over,” Shah said. “It was a very unexpected turn of events. I never thought I would see myself as an entertainment CEO.”
Miller started her own nonprofits — including Freedom March NYC — after the initial protests that were happening around Black Lives Matter when she was studying at Columbia University.
“Realizing that as a young black woman on a college campus, such as Columbia University, it was really important for us to pull our resources together and think about how we can create impact,” Miller said. “The more that we did this was, the more that we realized that there was a need for it and continue to grow.”
During BUILT BY GIRLS Summit 2020: Get Ready for the Comeback, Shah and Miller spoke about the myth of the perfect career path and following your passion.
‘Chase the things that you're passionate about’
If your new career path is something untested and you need time to start and develop, you may want to do it in your spare time until you develop a clear plan of what you want to do.
“Just because you have a nine to five doesn't mean that you can't have a five to nine,” Miller said. “What I mean by that is definitely continue to chase the things that you're passionate about and that excite you.”
You can do this by continuing to find the things that you're passionate about, creating time to work on them, and carving out the opportunities to really build them out.
Taking an hour or two and figuring out what would like to and how to do it is one of the ways to change career paths, according to Shah.
“There are ways to explore and figure out a path for yourself,” she said, “whether it's reading a lot of blogs, starting to write and develop your ideas in a way that, someone else can read them.
‘They want me in the room, which is why I'm in that room’
Entering the entertainment industry, Shah was often the only person who might be a younger voice, a woman, and a person of color in the room, but she realized that “bringing that full self to those meetings is one way that I combat it.”
“They want me in the room, which is why I'm in that room,” Shah said. “Instead of trying to act older than I am, or try and take on the traditional perspectives in media, I often try to convince them why we should flip the script of whatever they're talking about.”
In some cases, it may mean that you have to find your own way to begin. In Shah’s case, it was building an entertainment company from the ground up, instead of looking at how established entertainment companies are run.
“There is room for a 25-year-old-woman to be in those meetings, making the statements about how we can create change, and how we can create diversity in this industry,” Shah said.
‘View your life as a little bit of a rough draft’
While career transitions may be a difficult time, viewing it as a draft and being versatile to unexpected changes may help take some of the pressure off.
“View your life as a little bit of a rough draft,” Shah said, “and to not be vulnerable about that and not to view everything as fully set in stone.”
There may be a difference in how you and maybe your parents perceive success. They may prefer a more traditional career path with fewer transitions and changes, but job satisfaction is another way to look at success, according to Shah.
“It's okay to have three different jobs in the first three years out of college,” Shah said. “And as long as you're happy making those changes, that's a success.”
Read more information and tips in our Career section