My Career Path Origin Story: How the Great Recession Became an Unexpected Turning Point

As a millennial, I’ve been defined by the Great Recession.

In the summer of 2008, I sat in my cubicle in the HR department of a federal defense agency and watched President Bush make the announcement about the economic collapse.

In that moment, I flashed back to hearing my English teacher say the words “what do you mean a plane hit the World Trade Center?” as his daughter spoke frantically to him over the phone.

I’m certainly not trying to equate the lives lost to terrorism with a financial meltdown, but these are events which have shaped the lives of most of us millennials. The impact causes you to reevaluate the things you once took for granted and make you view your life trajectory through a different lens.

When I graduated college less than a year after the president’s announcement, I was entering a world and career situation for which higher education never prepared me. I was applying to entry-level positions that should have been mine for the taking, but instead had me in candidate pools competing with those who had 20 years experience.

After several months, I knew it was time to declare defeat on the traditional job search. The rejections became too much. I decided to take the advice of one of my African Studies professors. She suggested that I explore national service. I opted to apply for positions through AmeriCorps VISTA, the national service program that requires a college degree.

I was accepted for a one year appointment doing volunteer matching for a program that supported ex-offenders. Not only did I end up matching volunteers to various projects and mentorship with the program participants, but I also wrote resumes with the clients and helped them do job search.

That’s the origin story of my career counseling path. The Great Recession actually became a turning point and in a round about way determined what I’ve ended up devoting my professional life to doing.

What events both global and personal have defined you and ended up being major turning points?

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