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career change

Overrated and underrated careers (and what you can learn from them)

As kids, we dream of fascinating careers from ballerinas to astronauts. Having tried a few vastly different careers on for size, I can attest to the fact that some glamorous sounding careers can be incredibly overrated. When people learn I once earned a living as a celebrity makeup artist, they want to hear juicy stories and behind the scenes gossip. The reality was often exhausting and mundane and depending on the client, all too frequently soul-crushing.

No matter your current career, you can probably find ways to use your skills in different professional arenas. Even if you love what you do, it might be interesting to challenge yourself to pair your best skills with completely different careers.

Lawyer vs. crafter

“I was a trial attorney for 14 years. I primarily defended medical professionals in high-value malpractice cases. It was fascinating and challenging, but incredibly stressful,” said Tasha Agruso, Owner of Designer Trapped in a Lawyer’s Body.

Even though TV shows and movies can make long trials look fascinating and intense, the reality is a lot different. “Most people don’t realize how infrequently you actually get to go to trial. It’s very uncommon, at least at in my particular practice area” Agruso said. “So, most days involved sitting in my office, which wasn’t very exciting.”

Agruso began creating art out of necessity when she couldn’t afford the home décor and furniture she loved. “I taught myself how to make what I wanted. We invested in a variety of tools, from a table saw to my Cricut cutting machines, that have enabled us to make pretty much anything we can dream up for our home.”

The same but different: In case you’re wondering, Agruso says “Believe it or not, making isn’t entirely different from practicing law. As a lawyer, I had a result I wanted to achieve for my client and had to figure out a plan to get to that result with the facts that we had available to us. As a maker, I will dream up something I want to create for my home and then I have to figure out how to do it with the tools that are available to me.”

The takeaway? Agruso says “Both definitely require thinking outside the box and making the most of what you have available to you.”

The love factor: While one of her careers had an impressive title, Agruso says “The fact that making is now my full-time career is my dream come true. I don’t work any less than when I was an attorney, but the difference is that now it doesn’t really feel like work. I would continue doing this even if I won the lottery.” Score one for loving what you do.

You’d be great at …

What else would you be good at? Sometimes we work so hard to hone our professional skills that we forget about the skills that make us potentially great elsewhere. Earlier this year, Kristie Goshow joined Preferred Hotels & Resorts as Chief Marketing Officer. Though she’s worked on everything from marketing efforts to e-commerce and digital marketing initiatives across the airline, hospitality, and travel technology spaces, Goshow sometimes wonders if she would have been better suited to be a TV host. “I love to engage with audiences, share thoughts, opinions and what ifs. Audience responses, be they good, bad or indifferent provide stimulus and energize me. As a TV host, you are provided with a platform (and a privilege) to move others both mentally and emotionally. That’s a powerful endowment.”\

Appreciate the underappreciated: Then again, Goshow also believes one of the most underrated careers is that of a hotel housekeeper “The housekeeper or room attendant is the quiet magic that keeps everything together. They watch how their guests live and subtly manage their ‘hotel lifestyles’ in a peripheral and unobtrusive manner. It’s an art. Their role provides a sense of visual completion – making something ‘right again’. Ultimately, helping others just feels good.”

Find the career that fits: While Goshow can envision using her talents in a variety of careers, she’s also cognizant of the fact that her current job fits her best. She also clearly understands how to highlight all the parts of the whole and appreciates the necessary skills of everyone on her team no matter their titles.

At the end of the day: Are you proud of what you do? Do you use your skills and find satisfaction? If your reality fits well with your fantasy career, you’re on the right (career) track!

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Rachel Weingarten is a marketing & brand strategist and president of 729.marketing. She's a pop culture and trends analyst who frequently writes about business and style and the business of style. Rachel's a sometimes professor, teaching personal branding on the graduate and undergraduate levels. She leads corporate seminars on topics including evolving communication and spirituality in the workplace. Rachel is also the author of three award winning non-fiction books.