In the third part of our interview, Angelina Corbet talks about her transitions into and out of the corporate world, and finds out that understanding yourself can be a great way to find a new career.
“Having the corner office. Having the salary. Then saying, ‘Oh God, is this really all that there is?’”
This is the third of our five-part interview. Find out more about Angelina and Vocationing at www.themobiuscompany.com
Read the interview:
Avocationist: Tell me about your other job transitions.
Angelina: The second transition was from computer programming to accounting. Really that transition happened because when I was the computer programmer for the organization I worked with, I got very involved in the accounting function. That happened very naturally because I was already there.
Avocationist: Were there other difficult changes?
Angelina: The second hardest career transition was probably when I left corporate America and went to work for the small company before I went in to business for myself.
Avocationist: Tell me about that.
Angelina: I took a job really as a director of business development as a salesperson. That was very strange. It was like, “Oh my God, I’m not going to get a regular pay check. I’m going to have to earn my own money”.
Avocationist: How did you deal with that?
Angelina: I thought, “Okay. I’ve made all these other career transitions. Why not try this one”. As I said, I am not terribly risk averse when it comes to career transitions. Much of my life I’m risk averse. With careers I’ve always felt like, “Well, I could always do something else”.
Avocationist: How did you decide to leave corporate America?
Angelina: As I remember, I left corporate America after I had a position of Senior Vice President and Director of Infrastructure. I had all of the corporate functions reporting to me either dotted-line or direct. It was a case having been recruited to Charlotte and having the window corner office, having the salary. Then saying, “Oh God, is this really all that there is?” I hate to say it because it sounds like a terrible cliché.
Avocationist: How old were you then?
Angelina: I was in my mid-40’s and did the equivalent of, “Dear God, there has to be more than this”.
I felt really just being very confused about there really has to be more than this. That’s when I said, “Okay, let me go out and try to figure out what more there could be”. That’s when I did some of the self-assessment tools. It really was, I would say, my values catching up with me to say, “Okay, so now I’ve made a lot of money. Okay, so now I have this important title. Okay”. And then saying, “Wait a minute. Is that who I am?” Thinking, that’s not who I am, there’s got to be something different.
Avocationist: Did you go to the Highlands Program? Is that how you hooked up with those guys at that point?
Angelina: Yes. I actually went. I took the Highlands Program.
Avocationist: How did that help you?
Angelina: Their abilities battery said that one of the things that I would excel in was selling. I had never had a sales job in my life. I basically said to them "either you believe your test or you don’t".
Avocationist: That’s a good one.
Angelina: I said, if you believe your test, then you hire me as your Director of Business Development. If you don’t believe your test, you say to me, “well you don’t have any sales experience Angelina”. By the time I left Highlands the franchise that I worked for was one of the highest revenue generators in the country. That test was right, I’m very good at sales.
Avocationist: Yes. They should have known that by how you asked for that job.
Angelina: Yeah, I basically showed them my test scores and said, “Look it says the top five things I do best is sell”.
Another point about me is that I have a tendency to leave careers before I hate them. It's almost like a fear. If I do this a little bit longer, I’m not going to like it anymore.
Avocationist: That's interesting because I don't think most people do that.
Angelina: I leave it just a little sooner, rather than later. I work with a lot of people in the coaching work who are in career transition.
I think people’s biggest complaint is they waited too long. They knew they should get out, a year ago, and they hate it now. It’s interesting, because I’ve always erred on the other way. I usually get out a year too soon because I’m afraid I’m going to hate it. And I don't want to hate it.
Avocationist: How did you pick computer programming?
Angelina: Well, again, it was intellectually - it looked very challenging to me. It was in the mid-70’s. Most of my life, I’ve been very left-brain. I’ve been very logical and very analytical. It was in the 70’s, and the whole computer industry was really starting to explode. I just took an introductory class in it and really just loved it. It very much appealed to that very logical, analytical side. I have an undergraduate minor in mathematics and it just really appealed to the logical stuff in me. I said, “Oh, this could be interesting”, because it’s this up and coming field. I have a tendency like nascent industries. I like to show up in an industry when it’s first starting and so there aren’t a whole lot of rules. There’s a whole lot of opportunities. It’s the area of my life that I am very much a risk taker. I think that’s the other really interesting thing about career transition. I think people are afraid that if they find a job and they don’t like it, “Oh my God, it’s the end of the world”. It’s like, “Well, no. If you take a job and you don’t like it, go find another one”. It may not happen easily, and in today’s economy it’s especially hard. But, you can go about finding the other one.
Avocationist: How did your transition to computer programming happen?
Angelina: That career transition I made by going back to school. I’ve made other career transitions where I have not gone back to school, but I’ve actually done pro bono work for organizations. Most people will say, “How do you get from one career to the next?”
Avocationist: Yes - that's a big challenge for many people.
Angelina: If you want to radically change, number one I’ve gone back to school. The other way I’ve done it is to provide pro bono services in the industry where I’m interested in going. Or in a field where I’m interested in going. When I wanted to get into school reform, I had been working on Wall Street. I found an organization that needed some consulting services and I offered them pro bono consulting services, but they were in the school reform business.
They were in school reform. They wanted some computer consulting services. And, I was willing to give them computer consulting services, free, because it gave me an opportunity to network in this area of school reform. I wound up giving pro bono services to three different organizations and wound up with three job offers to make the career transition. The pro bono work gave me the opportunity to meeting with people in the industry and learn the language of the industry.
The other thing I have found very useful in making career transitions is attending a whole bunch of seminars and conferences. It wasn’t really school. I didn’t get a new degree. I found, and this is when I got in to coaching, I went to the International Coach Federation Conference. Then I took a couple of classes. I did a couple of networking events. Again, I’m usually somebody who goes and does something as a way to make a career transition.
Avocationist: Yeah. You said you’ve mostly gotten in to these new fields. How do you find out about them? Is it something that you go look for? Or do you usually find it just occurring to you, or do you run across it?
Angelina: I’m somebody who pays attention to trends. One of the careers I think I should have someday is to figure out how to get paid money for the fact that I can spot trends. I don’t know if anybody would pay me for that.
When I first got in to coaching and I went to the International Coaching Federation Conference. I think there were maybe 200 people at the conference. Now everybody and his brother has a coach.
Avocationist: Yeah. Exactly.
Angelina: Its like, when I first started doing it, people would say to me, “What’s a coach? How did you find out about that?” It’s like, “Okay, this sounds like brand new”.
In the next segment, Angelina talks about how even the "stuff that felt lousy" had a purpose.