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changing your career in your 30’s…(part 2)

Changing Careers in Your 30's

Changing Careers in Your 30's

A couple weeks ago, I began Part 1 of Changing Your Career in Your 30's with an interview from our Creative Producer & Stylist, Julia, who left her career as a reality show producer to find her true passion of styling and crafting. Today, I'd like you to meet Courtney, an attorney who left her own law practice just a few months ago to pursue a career change (soon after turning 30) and now works at Oh Joy!


Courtney Ketchersid, my Executive Assistant, manages all the administrative tasks of Oh Joy—including my schedule, email correspondence, coordinating blog posts, interacting with clients and sponsors, social media, and sooo many other things. She began at Oh Joy only a few months ago after leaving her own law practice to pursue a new direction in her career. Not only did she change careers but she also went from being self-employed to working for someone else which isn't a story you hear very often. Here's Courtney's story as interviewed by me… 

How long were you at your former profession, and why did you want to change careers?

I was licensed to practice for 4 ½ years. I was self-employed and had all the stresses of running my own business on top of practicing law (accounting, marketing, scheduling, etc.). I found that I liked running the business more than I liked practicing law. But even more, I was working alone and missed working with other people.

How did you feel about the idea of leaving a career that you were so used to and good at?

In some respects I really liked what I did and felt like I had finally gotten a good grasp on how to practice law. I was an estate planning and probate attorney, and I was working to make sure that people were going to be well taken of in their declining years and their families were provided for at their death. I had no hesitation about leaving that career though. There is a lot of pressure to get things done right—not only from a legal standpoint, but to make sure that I serve my clients faithfully. There is also the stigma of being an attorney (and a female attorney), that I was happy to leave behind!

What made you decide to take the leap to make the change?

The combination of no longer wanting to be self-employed, not enjoying my practice, and the desire to work with more people, made me got serious about finding something else. I was looking for more administrative work in a more creative company. I spread the word to my friends and family, and my brother had a colleague who saw Joy's posting for her position on her personal Facebook page. The job opportunity at Oh Joy! was what I wanted, the timing was right, and everything fell into place so the “leap” felt more like the natural next step. I did a video call with Joy for the first interview, flew to LA for a second interview, and was offered the job the day after that. I packed up my apartment in Dallas and moved to Los Angeles two weeks later.

Were you apprehensive about a change in pay because you were starting a new career and going from a lawyer's salary to an admin salary? What made you feel okay with the change in salary?

As most self-employed people know, income is not always dependable. I would have great months and scary slow months (and self-employment tax!). You save and get smart about money as you learn the ins-and-outs of self-employment, and ideally, your client base grows and money becomes less of a concern. Ideally. But the idea of a steady paycheck was very nice. The job change is still new, and the budgeting is still in process. I know for people my age—particularly those who went through seven years of expensive undergrad and grad school—school loans are a concern. I was able to make pay off a lot of my school debt while practicing law, so that helped me now feel a little calmer about a change in pay for this new job.

Did you feel like you had “wasted” your law degree by going into a career that didn’t require that? Or do you feel it has still helped you in your new job?

Law school was such a fun time in my life and also a stressful one! I have always been “good” at school—following along, reading, writing, and getting good grades come easily to me. Law school wasn’t a huge toll on my mental or emotional health like it can be for some. It actually boosted my self esteem and convinced me I could tackle anything. So I don’t think my law degree was a waste. Expensive? Oh, absolutely! But law school teaches you more than just law. It taught me about critical thinking, how to read, how to write, and how to do all of it quickly and efficiently. All of those skills are things I use everyday at Oh Joy! and are absolutely an advantage for me.

Now that you’re in your new job/career, how has your life changed?

I'm a lot less stressed and learning everyday. I’m happiest when my mind is active, and this job is opening up an entire new world to me and giving me opportunities to learn brand new things. Everyone in the studio is so talented and sees the world in a completely different way which is very inspiring and humbling to watch. I am still adjusting to the new job, working to understand processes and how to do my work correctly and efficiently. But I genuinely like coming in to work (and am making fewer and fewer mistakes…so, progress!).

How do you think your new job/career has changed the future of where you want to be in the next 10 years?

Ten years?  I’m still unsure about the next ten minutes! What I do know? This career change has shown me there is a place where I can both thrive and be happy. I like coming into work, I like what I do, and I feel like I can get to a level where I will do it really well! I like to say that “my kind of creativity is organization”. This new career is proving that to me everyday, and I love it.

What would you tell others considering a career change?

If you are considering a career change, it is likely because something is not right with your current career. Make that move beyond “considering”! A couple tips:

1. Be informed and think things through. It’s not a rash decision to make…particularly if you have a family that depends on you! I was lucky in that I don’t have a husband or kids relying on my income.  My move from Texas to California didn't affect anyone but me.

2. Ask for advice. There are older and/or wiser people in your life that likely have insight. There are also people in your life who care about you and want the best for you (often the same people). See what they think! My parents and family are the best, and totally encouraged me to start this new adventure (after making me go through a financial spreadsheet and pros/cons list)!

3. It’s never too late! It’s never too early! Don’t let excuses limit you.

{Photo by Casey Brodley, styling by Julia Wester.}


  1. I really loved this series, thank you! I am seriously considering a career change, and both of these stories were really inspiring. I think the fact that I liked them so much tells me something important :).

  2. I love this so much. I’m 33 and currently planning a career change (with a husband who works constantly, two young kids…and maybe a baby in the near future). It’s a scary leap leaving a relatively high-paying, easy job for something less stable, but I need a change. I want to do something that I love, that will make the time away from my children seem more worthwhile. It’s so reassuring to hear from other people who have started over in the middle of this fraught decade!

  3. Hi Mel,
    No time is the right time you just have to go for it! I had a friend start law school in her mid-30’s while pregnant with her 2nd child!

  4. This post was right on target with me, and I commend Courtney for making the change to her career. For about 10 years, I worked as a tax accountant for a big 4 accounting firm and made great strides in my career, getting promoted to a Senior Manager which was always a dream of mines since I was a little girl. Until I realized, I was miserable from all the stress and time this career demanded, and like Courtney mentioned, I can relate to how there was enormous pressure to get things done right, and I found myself at times breaking down and crying, it was such a demanding job.
    So I made the jump. For the past 5 years, I’ve been an executive assistant at a medium sized finance company, and I love it, it’s stable, and I enjoy the work I do, and I get to leave work and go home and enjoy my family, and leave work at work. I did have to take a substantial pay cut, but I have been able to still make my budget work out, and I have not regretted leaving.
    Many of my colleagues and friends were so surprised that I did this, but most came around when they understood how happy i was. I don’t regret my time working as a tax accountant, I learned a lot, I made some great friends, and I know that I would have never appreciated what I do now, if I didn’t go through what it took to work in what was my dream job at the time. So thank you Courtney for sharing your story and doing what you need to do to follow your heart, your story resonates with me.

  5. I genuinely enjoyed this segment! I am currently undergoing a career change and I can tell you that the hardest part is taking those first few steps in a new direction. I’m thankful for all of the support my husband has given me through this transition and am delighted that I was able to inspire him to make similar career changes. I think seeing others go through it really allows to you believe you can too!

  6. Yay! I was so waiting for this post as I am an attorney looking to be a creative full-time. I have a family to support so any move I make will effect my kid and husband, so I wish the perfect opportunity would come faster! But I know it doesn’t work that way so I am glad i read your story to keep me on the right path. Thanks for sharing your story!

  7. Oh my goodness! I beg to differ with Courtney about her leaving not affecting anyone! Alas, I lost my lettering partner!! Courtney is one of my favorite people in the whole wide world and I know she will be a huge blessing to the company there.

  8. This is seriously me with one more kid. The loss of income really terrifies me as well as taking the leap with so few creative outlets in my geographical area. But it’s so great to know others are doing it and in the same place I am!

  9. We have his one precious life to live. I applaud Courtney for her courage and you Joy for also taking the risk on the “too qualified” candidate. Joy all around.

  10. Hi! I would love to know what Courtney wrote or did in her application to get her recognized by Oh Joy for that initial interview. The hard part for most people who want to switch careers (such as myself) is getting recognized among a sea of applicants and showing them you have what it takes to make the switch. A lot of people want you to have “experience” even for entry level positions. Do either of you – Joy or Courtney – have any tips for how you broke through that first layer and got your application recognized? Thanks!

  11. I love this and have many similar thoughts. I’v been in the learning/leadership development field for 15+ years, very committed to helping people become their best selves. I loved many parts of it but now ready for a change. In my heart of hearts I just want to take photographs all day, of anything and everything but mostly families and kids and the golden LA light where I live. Yes, becoming our best selves is great but it’s also important to see where we are at the moment. So how do I do that, give up my steady income as working mom and wife to great working hubby and momma to 5 year old twins. So scary but life is short and our hearts & souls are the most important things we’ve got, right?! (By the way, I’m 42 but am pretending that I’m in my 30s for the purpose of relating. 😉 Maybe you’ll do one about 40s though?!)

  12. 40’s is the new 30’s and it’s never too late! I completely understand the real life things to consider but if it’s really important to you, you can figure out a way with your family to make it happen!
    Good luck mama!

  13. This makes me so happy. I made a similar transition a couple of years ago, from attorney to interior designer. It was the scariest decision I’ve ever made. But I knew after five years of practicing corporate law, the eternal dread of going to work wasn’t going to end unless I made a decision to make a change! Thanks for sharing your story Courtney!

  14. I hear you. The drastic change of income is the biggest wall of all, and it keeps me stuck to my current job to the job i want to do. Its such a relief to know that i am not the only one here. I hope all of us get to make that leap

  15. You have no idea how much this series has encouraged me to start the process of switching lanes in my career. The fear behind money and starting from the bottom all while being in your 30’s has terrified me, but reading the stories of these girls (and their new dream job) have motivated me. They also show that with hard work, sacrifice, and a little passion, you can accomplish anything.
    Thanks so much for featuring this on your blog. It clearly means a lot to a lot of your readers, myself included!

  16. I’m not 30, in fact, I only just graduated, but as I look forward to what I want to do with my life I have to say that reading this series has made me less stressed about picking the right thing so I thank you for that!

  17. Can totally relate to the question re: was your law degree a waste! I got a Bachelor of Arts with a major in English and then an Education degree so I could teach. I’m teaching now but many people know that I don’t think this will be my field for long. I really want to do something else. People always mention that my “education” and time in school was wasted, but I disagree. My degrees were about so much more than just the title; I gained so many diverse skills and had so many experiences… not a waste at all, and I think I’d be a better employee for my potentially different background!
    Loved this mini-series!

  18. I really needed to read this series. My background is in education, but I have no desire to back into the classroom (I haven’t taught in a few years). Photography and writing are my hobbies and I would truly like to pursue those, although I enjoy working around others so collaboration is more my speed. Part of me feels guilty for abandoning education, while the other part of me feels as though I’m a failure because I’m in my mid-40’s and don’t know what I want to do with my life. Working is for me and my sanity…it’s what I enjoy doing. I’m fortunate that we are able to live comfortably off my husband’s income. It’s time I do something that makes me happy and gives me a sense of fulfillment. Fingers crossed I find a job that is the perfect fit for me.

  19. The good thing is..there is no wrong answer and if later you discover you don’t love the path you chose, you can take steps to change it! 😉

  20. I love Courtney! She went to law school
    With my husband! Great interview! So proud of her!

  21. I love this series! Are you thinking of continuing it? I think it would be great if you did. I’m considering a transition but am held back by some of the same worries that Julia and Courtney voiced. Seeing and hearing about other people doing it successfully is super helpful.

  22. Great Post! I am new to this blog and will be reading the series!
    I have already made one big change this year (moving from one major city to another) and am now ready to take my next, even riskier step – building my own business (virtual assistant + lifestyle blogger).
    I will definitely be featuring this series on my new blog next week (with the proper credits & links) 🙂
    You are truly inspiring to newcomer!


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