Making the Jump: Lessons from an Account Lead on Switching Careers

Hi friends! My name’s Chelsea, and I’m a new face on the Syrup team. I’m here today to tell you a little about how I came to be a part of the Syrupian Union and the three big lessons I learned along the way in my career shift.

First thing we need to acknowledge: Changing jobs is a scary, stressful thing. In fact, according to the Holmes-Rahe Life Stress scale, switching jobs ranks in the top 20 of most stressful things in life. Yikes. And really, knowing just how stressful finding a new job can be was the biggest reason I waited to leave my last company for so long. After all, I liked my team and I did my job well. And most days, staying where I was seemed better than tackling the mountain of finding a new job. But I knew that was a cop-out and that I was truly unfulfilled. I knew it was time for a change.

And so began the grueling process of job hunting. Armed with my PR background and prior agency experience, I decided to make a shortlist of companies in Atlanta I admired and why I wanted to work for them. After a couple of calls, I got an in-person interview at one of my shortlisted companies: a super small start-up in Atlanta.

While meeting with the COO, I asked what motivated her to leave her job at a global PR firm and make that huge jump into the start-up world. She said she naturally had tons of reservations, and it honestly really scared her… but that’s why she knew she should do it.

Lesson 1: If the opportunity scares you, take it.

Her response took me by surprise – the fact that this company was so new was something I saw as a drawback. It was one of my only hesitations about the company. She helped me see it in a different light: it’s scary, yes, but that means you’ll learn and grow from it. You’ll have more influence to affect change at a young company than you would going into an established company.

Will it work out? Maybe. Maybe not. But the lessons you’ll learn along the way by taking a chance will make you better not just professionally, but personally, too.

Lesson 2: Be smart about where you go.

(Fast forwarding a bit here)

You can maybe guess I didn’t take the job with the start-up since I’m writing this. Not because I chickened out. But because my phone rang.

I got a call back from Syrup in the midst of considering the start-up. And from the get-go, I knew something was different about them:

  • The way they lived and breathed their mission, vision, and values every single day.
  • The importance they place on helping small companies grow.
  • The tight-knit group they seemed to be.

I knew I wanted to be part of this company.

Remember that shortlist of companies I made? Writing down the companies, why I liked them and why I wanted to join them helped remind me why I was looking for a change in the first place. This was really important to me because I didn’t want to make the mistake of leaving my job just to take another one that left me feeling unfulfilled once again. I decided if I was going to make a move, it was going to be a thoughtful and purposeful one.

I knew I wanted to work for Syrup because they championed small companies. I wanted to be part of a team that helped those guys, the companies that aren’t your mega-conglomerates.

And finally, after a few interviews, I learned I got the job (woo!).

Then the nerves set in. My background is in public relations, and even with my account management experience, I still had no direct digital marketing experience. Would that matter? Would I be able to learn quickly? All of these questions intimidated me, but I took the job (refer back to Lesson 1).

Lesson 3: Surround yourself with people you know will make you better.

Here’s the thing: I’m surrounded by a mighty team. A really, really good team. A team that answers all of my learning curve questions with patience and grace. No matter what questions or worries I had in the beginning, at the end of the day I know my team has my back with anything.

Before Syrup, I’d never worked for a company where literally every single person is a subject matter expert in what they do. Now, I come to work every day ready to learn from these guys and I leave inspired to be a better person (both professionally and personally) than I was the day before.

So, I’ll leave you with this: taking a new opportunity in a new field will throw you off balance. You’ll feel totally off-kilter for a while, and you know what? It may not work out. But it might. And it could be the best decision ever. You’ve just gotta do it.

Chelsea Choquette