Career Change: How Did I Get Here?

Today is February 16th, 2012, and tomorow I will begin a natural/vegetarian/healing foods culinary program at The Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts, here in Austin, TX. I find myself on the doorstep of leaving my 10-year career in human resources, reflecting on how I arrived at this amazing turning point in my life…

Early Signs

As a child, I loved to watch cooking shows on public TV. The sounds, the physicality, and the vitality were very attractive. Chefs were always very excited about their work and the pleasure it could bring them and their guests.

My mom got me my first cookbook when I was fairly young. It had a plastic set of measuring spoons which I still use today. I had some cooking successes, and many failures.

Below: These spoons have been used in my kitchens for the past 20 years or so.


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Do What You Are

I work in HR, which I’ve done for ten years. I’ve found it marginally rewarding and I’ve never truly excelled at it, although I’ve generally been paid comfortably for it. I’ve felt passion for it on rare occasions but mostly it’s been frustrating. I think this is because HR is not “me.”

What IS me?

The answer has unfolded gradually over time. But one key step in my career journey was the book Do What You Are. The premise of the book is that you should do work that aligns with your character, your personality.

I am an introverted, sensing, feeling, perceiver. This means I

  • Prefer to work alone
  • Enjoy working with facts and tangible things
  • Want to help others and have my work align with my personal values
  • Dislike inflexible rules and structures
  • Prefer to avoid strict schedules

Two careers jumped out at me that aligned with my profile – chef and dietitian – because I’ve always been interested in food and nutrition.

There’s a lot I could say about the book, but in short, I highly recommend it for anyone considering a new career.