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139 – Mackenize Winkelmaier: Project Coordinator at a National Nonprofit

TeacherCareerCoach

In this episode, Mackenzie Winkelmeyer shares how she got a job as a project coordinator at a national nonprofit after years of working in the classroom.

Listen to the episode in the podcast player below, or find it on Apple Podcast or Spotify.

Project Coordinator at a national nonprofit

Daphne:

Hi Mackenzie. Thank you so much for being here.

Mackenzie:

Thanks for having me.

Daphne:

Mackenzie, I always like to start off talking a little bit about your experience working in education. How long were you a teacher for, and what got you into teaching?

Mackenzie:

So I was a classroom teacher for nine years. I taught in the same district. I mostly taught at the same school. I taught kindergarten. Most of my time was actually in kindergarten. I taught first grade, I taught special ed, but then I actually ended my career in fifth grade. So, quite the expanse. I got into teaching. I feel like my answer has changed now that I’m out of it.

But I got into teaching because I loved the idea of being around kids, and being able to help kids, and being a positive force in their life. I had such great teachers, I loved school, all of that was great. And so when my 18-year-old self was trying to decide what it is that I wanted to do, teaching just seemed like it was it, it was the business.

And so I got my degree in elementary education with an emphasis in special education. And then I taught for four or five years, got my master’s degree in educational leadership, and then promptly left the profession.

Daphne:

What made you start looking for roles outside of the classroom, if you don’t mind me asking?

Mackenzie:

I think it’s a good question, and it’s a question that I get often when I start telling people that I’ve left the profession. And I was trying to think back. I would jokingly say that it was a slow crawl towards resignation. It wasn’t something that I just up and decided one day that I wasn’t going to be a teacher anymore. Like I said, it was something I thought I was going to do forever for a long time.

And so when I was brainstorming with my husband about what we’re going to talk about on this podcast, I had said to him, “What are some things that you remember happening in my career that were really hard for me to handle?” And the first one that he brought up was there was an issue with the pay scale and the way that the pay scale in our district is structured.

And so just like with any normal job, you have to do these continuing education credits. So you have to stay up to date on your licensure and all that jazz. And you have to do a certain amount of credits throughout the year. And then when you go to re-up on your licensure, you say, “I’ve taken these classes.”

And so since I didn’t immediately decide to go get my master’s degree, I was accruing these credits. And so you can get a bachelor’s degree plus these continuing education credits, and then that’s how you move up on the pay scale. So you move up with your seniority, but you can also move up with your education.

So since I didn’t initially go get my master’s degree, I was accruing these credits. And when I decided I wanted to go back and get my master’s degree, I had sent an email to HR and I had said, “I’d like to get my master’s degree and then I’d like to stack these credits on top of my master’s degree.” Because at that point I had done, it was something like 16 continuing credits, which is 300 plus hours of work. And they’re like, “Yeah, sure, no problem.” And so then I go through my master’s degree and I go to submit my paperwork and I say, “I’d like my pay increase.” And they said, “We’re not giving it to you because you did these continuing education credits before you received your master’s degree.”

Daphne:

I don’t want to call the cops. I’m so mad right now.

Mackenzie:

And so they pretty much nullified 400 hours of continuing education credits because I received them before I got my master’s degree, which is so wild. And I could feel my pulse just getting… It’s so wild because they expect you to use that knowledge that you’ve learned in the classroom. You’re expected to use that knowledge in your classroom, and use it to the benefit of kids and the people around you. And so the district is benefiting on your knowledge, but they’re not going to pay you for it. And so that was really the first time that I was like, “Man, this profession is standing in the way of my ability to provide for my own family.” And so that was a huge issue.

Daphne:

And it’s also not something that it’s as easy as at another company to negotiate and say, “Hey, heck no. Listen to me.” They’re going to say, “There’s all these things that are preventing us from being able to actually do it,” but they should have told you that far in advance if that was the case. Because I took those same extra classes and many of them took a lot out of my summers, to go on weird field trips and then write long papers about it. What other things happened in your career where you started to realize that you were maybe just out? Yeah.

Mackenzie shares what led her to leave the classroom

Mackenzie:

So like I said, I spent seven years in kindergarten. I taught seven years in kindergarten, and I loved it for what it was, but I was starting to kind of feel like a one trick pony where, “I’ve been there, I’ve done this.”

And so I decided after my master’s degree, because that happened during Covid and all of that, I decided that maybe changing grade levels would be a really great way for me to stretch my teaching muscle.

And so I was fortunate enough that a fifth grade position opened up at the school that I had been at, and I applied for that and was able to get that position. And that was really great.

A huge issue with upper grades though is those class sizes. And so it’s me and 35 kids, and I felt like I was fighting for my life, because you can’t teach 35 kids math at the same time.

And that I started to realize, really started to wear down on how I felt about myself, because I was feeling very unsuccessful. I think the kids were having fun. I had been out of school long enough that the parents knew who I was. I actually had some kindergartners. I had them in kindergarten and had them again in fifth grade. So we got to kind of book end our careers together. And that was so sweet. I loved that. But when you go to work and you stop feeling successful, it’s hard to get up in the morning and go do it again. And so just the structure of school was really starting to get to me.

And then I was in fifth grade for two years and I had said, “Okay, I feel like I’ve proven that I could teach the little kids and I could teach the old kids, and I have a master’s degree in leadership.” And so a job opened up at my school for a dean position, which is kind of that middle ground, but it’s the first of the admin rung.

And I was passed up for that promotion that I had, at that point thought I had worked really hard for. And so after that, I think that’s the straw that broke the figurative camel’s back.

Daphne:

So during that time, how did you start evaluating jobs outside the classroom?

Mackenzie:

So the day I didn’t get that promotion was the day I came home and I bought the course, because it had been something that I had been looking into-

Daphne:

The Teacher Career Coach Course?

Mackenzie:

Yep. Yep. Plug. There’s your plug.

Daphne:

I did not pay her to say that.

Mackenzie:

No. But I had been looking into it, and it had been something, in the same way that teaching kindergarten felt like I was a one trick pony. I was like, “I feel like there’s other things that I can do,” and there’s other ways that you can help kids that you don’t necessarily have to be directly responsible for them.

And so when all of those things had happened, I said, “Okay, this is the world saying that I need to step away.” So I forget exactly what your original question was, but that was what spearheaded my journey into trying to find something else outside of school.

Daphne:

But it sounds like you were even before that, a fly on the wall, maybe checking out our content, looking at different jobs, but that was when you took it serious.

Mackenzie:

Yeah. And I say too, the thing about working with kids is you’re acutely aware of time. So I remember the first time I wasn’t digging it, I was sitting at my desk. I was feeling like crap, but I had got myself out of bed because it’s easier to go than to write a sub plan. And I was teaching kindergarten, and those kids are now fifth graders. And so I haven’t been digging it since those kids were kindergartners. So yes, when I say a long slow crawl, that’s what I mean.

Daphne:

Yeah. And that’s one of the things that I think gets away from so many people is how many years go by that you kind of drown out the voice telling you that it’s maybe not a good fit.

Mackenzie:

Absolutely.

Daphne:

You gaslight yourself and say, “Everybody has hard days,” or whatever. But I can even remember back to my first year where I was like, “What is wrong with my body? Why don’t I feel well? Why do I not feel like myself?” And I’ve had plenty of other jobs before and after, and I never felt that way, but I kept saying like, “This is like first year jitters,” of a teaching position.

Mackenzie:

And then I was in year nine, and those jitters were not… They never went away. Or I’d lay down, and I remember just feeling a lump in my throat, and I’m like, “I’m 30, I’m healthy. There’s nothing wrong with me.” But I could not kick the anxiety that school was giving me.

Daphne:

Did you ever end up regretting not taking a career transition seriously five years before or eight years before?

Mackenzie:

I don’t think so. I think I had to live out my teacher life to the very last moment, to be able to step away from it and say that I got everything out of it that I could have gotten out of it. I wonder that if I would’ve left earlier, if my brain would’ve thought, “What if I did this differently? What if I changed grade levels?” I still talk to… In one of your early podcasts, you had said, “You’re going to transition out and all the people are going to come out of the woodwork.” And so that’s what has been happening. And I think that if I didn’t teach my final year, I would’ve never gotten to the point where I could say, “I can leave this behind.” And I think that idea that you can miss it, but still not want to have it.

Daphne:

I’m a big believer, might be woo woo sounding, but I’m a big believer—

Mackenzie:

I’m from Oregon. I love a little bit of woo woo.

Daphne:

Yeah, I’m from California. So same. But I feel like things do happen for a reason. And I do also feel like whether or not my last year was terrible, it still was, this is a good experience because it taught me without a doubt I have to leave, where the other years kind of left me numb and unhappy, but where I would’ve stayed in this sense of discomfort for probably a prolonged period of time. So sometimes, that is the clarity that you need of, “Okay, I gave it the old college try and now I’m ready to move on.”

So it sounds like you took it seriously. You took the Teacher Career Coach Course, you were like, “For reals, this is the time that I’m doing it.” What types of jobs were you looking for initially when you were leaving the classroom? Or what was your finding career clarity process like?

Mackenzie explains how she found clarity on what career path she was interested in

Mackenzie:

When I didn’t get that promotion and I was looking for jobs right off the bat, that was maybe April or May of last school year, or before last school year. And so I came home and I was like, “I just got to do something different.” And I feel like, what do you call it? You call it, where you just spray out all of your—

Daphne:

Spray and pray.

Mackenzie:

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Daphne:

You’re just using the generic, maybe you changed a couple of words from teacher to educator, and then you said, “I collaborated with my stakeholders,” and you use this weird generic. . . Not weird, but just the generic resume and send it to every type of position.

Mackenzie:

Just hoping somebody would listen. And so that’s kind of where I started. I don’t want to say desperate, but sometimes you can feel that way, is somebody just pluck me out of this situation. And I had just said to myself that if I didn’t get a job by the beginning of the school year, I would stop applying. I didn’t ever want to leave my colleagues high and dry. I know a lot of people talk about, “Do it for the kids,” that whole teacher guilt piece. And that is also important, but my colleagues are still my friends.

And so if I left in December or March, that puts them in a lurch. And so I had said, “If I don’t get a job by the beginning of the school year,” then I would stop. And so nothing stuck. I look back on it now, and I’m just not sure I had my head on correctly. I was just beside myself.

Daphne:

Which is hard to do when you’re super stressed out, and you want something badly, and you want it to happen quickly. Somebody, even me saying over and over again, “You got to get clear on your focus and you got to redo your resume.” You’re going to say, “Heck no. I’m going to send it to these 10 jobs,” because you don’t want to believe that it’s true.

Mackenzie:

You don’t want to. And I do think there was a part too, that I did enjoy the process, because I got my job as a teacher at 21 years old. I only know the district’s procedure on how to get jobs and how that works. And so I really kind of enjoyed the process of going and seeing how each company did their hiring process.

But our school district is on a balanced calendar, so the summer is only six or seven weeks. And so that’s really not enough time for you to get clarity, do all of your due diligence, interview, and be ready to go.

And so I started the next school year. I said, “I’m just going to enjoy my time for what it is,” because mentally I knew this was the end of it. And that’s one of my little tips for people is do just try and enjoy your last little bit of school, because I had so much fun just being like, “This is the last time I’m going to teach this math curriculum. This is the last time I have to do this paper mache project.” And so that brought a little bit of joy back to the profession that I had lost for a long time.

And so I gave myself the first half of the year to not do any trying to find a new job. I was looking, but I was only going to apply if something really interested me. And so I gave myself until January of the next year, and then I said, “I’m really going to apply myself now.”

And I redid my resume. I used the template that you used, which I think in your teacher brain, you want to make it fluffy like you’ve said, but they don’t like fluff. And so that was really helpful.

And then when I sat down and thought about what I wanted to do, I really liked the idea of doing nonprofit work. Our family, we have some nonprofit ties. Not to say that money isn’t important, but I’m not so much in a position where I have to. . . I’m not the sole provider in my family. So that gave me quite a bit of flexibility. I really just said, “I want to make the same amount of money that I do now. I don’t want to feel it in my pocket.” And so that kind of opened up the nonprofit world.

And then you’ve talked a lot about these online, working fully remote. I wasn’t sure I wanted to do that, because I was going from such a conversational, you’re with people all the time while you’re teaching, to then going home and sitting by myself was not something I felt was good for me. So I didn’t mind the idea of going in somewhere.

But I was really intimidated by the idea of applying to a company that had thousands of people. How do you stand out? I thought that the better shot for me was to find local options, people who may have heard my name, or I may have met in passing, those kinds of things. So that’s what got me on the nonprofit train.

Daphne:

So did you start looking to your warm network? Were you able to find people that you knew who knew people in nonprofits?

Mackenzie talks about how networking helped her transition process

Mackenzie:

Yeah. And one of the biggest things I realized that ended up helping me was for a long time, I just kept my job search to myself, because it wasn’t something that I really wanted to share or really wanted to explain to people until I had all my ducks in a row. So the people that were close to me knew and understood, or understand that I had been looking for a long time, but it wasn’t something that I was broadcasting.

But when you do that, you also kind of miss out on really great networking opportunities because you’re too nervous to say anything. I don’t want to say to anybody, “Hey, this really noble profession that I thought I was going to do forever is really hurting my feelings.” And I was just kind of expecting people to be like, “Hey, I can tell that you’re miserable.” Hopefully they couldn’t. But I was expecting somebody to pluck me out and say, “I can tell you’re miserable in your job. Here’s one on a silver platter.” And that just doesn’t work like that.

Daphne:

That’s why we have it so clear in the Teacher Career Coach Course too, is because that networking piece, cold networking and warm networking, even warm networking, it seems like these are people you know, you should know how to do this. If I told you, “Hey, in this course I’m going to tell you how to ask your friends for suggestions for roles, or how to tell your friends you’re looking for a job or why it’s important,” you would probably say, “That sounds—”

Mackenzie:

Hokey.

Daphne:

“Really basic level. Why is that even important for you to put in the course?” But because people are so vague, and because they don’t realize I’m sitting at a table with 10 of my friends, and I haven’t told them, “Hey, just keep your ears to the ground. I’m interested in customer success positions.” If you don’t explicitly say what you’re looking for, no one’s going to assume, because they’re going to assume that it might be a bad fit for you or insulting.

You never would tell someone’s husband who’s trying to get out of one industry, “Have you thought about being a kindergarten teacher?” You’d be like, “They probably wouldn’t be interested in that,” unless they were at the table saying, “Hey, I’m interested in getting into education. Does anyone know how to get into early elementary education?” And then you’re like, “I can help you. I do have suggestions or schools for you.” You have to explicitly say what you’re looking for.

Mackenzie:

You have to, and that was one of the big catalyst changes for me was I still. . . It wasn’t something that I was just plastering all over everywhere that, “Hey, I need help.” But it really was one of those things where when I started telling people that I was no longer interested in being in the classroom, that’s when the opportunities started opening up, because that’s when people start saying your names in rooms that they would never think to say otherwise.

Daphne:

Yeah. And the people who are going to be the most likely to help you put your resume at the top of the pile are people who actually know you. And I think that’s one thing that so many people really struggle with, is they’d rather collect 500 random strangers who are all fighting for the exact same positions that they are and think, “One of these people is going to vouch for me if they get their foot in the door somewhere.”

But it’s a risk. It’s something that’s scary for people to say, “Oh no, I was responsible for hiring that person. That was a terrible fit, or didn’t learn quickly.” But the people who know, “I like that person, and I know that I can trust them, and I know that they’ll stay at the company for a reasonable amount of time,” or, “I know that they’ll be a good fit because of X, Y, Z.” And those are going to be the people who authentically vouch for you if you are trying to use networking as your in.

Mackenzie:

And they might even say if they can vouch for you personally, on the days when you’re having a rough time and you’re not able to do the job well, they can say, “This person still has stellar character. I can vouch for their character and their work ethic.”

Where LinkedIn was never something that I really got into. I know it’s a suggestion that you make, but for that same thing is, I did not feel comfortable casting a net of 500 people that I didn’t know. And so that was something that I never really broached. I really leaned heavily on that, what are you calling it? A soft network?

Daphne:

A warm network.

Mackenzie:

Warm network.

Daphne:

The reaching out to strangers is something we never. . . In the course, we kind of teach how to be strategic about it so that you’re not wasting your time on LinkedIn. It can be fun. It’s social media, just like any other social media is fun if you do find it fun. But it’s not as productive or effective as people may think, if they are just randomly applying or randomly adding a bunch of different people.

But it does sound like you went in with a very clear timeline of, you started taking the course, you started taking it seriously in January. I know we do have in the course, suggestions of timeframes, and especially suggestions of when to start applying. Make sure you have your resume done at this specific time.

Mackenzie shares how she got her resume ready for applications

So you were really keyed in on nonprofit work, and that probably helped you with how you were formulating your resume and what types of things you were adding to it. When did you start applying to jobs, and when did you have your resume done?

Mackenzie:

Well, my really crappy resume was done months in advance, but I spent my Christmas break, my holiday break really going over the modules again. Two things, diving deeper into the group that you have where you can go, the forum, the community forum. And pulling off not paper resources, but what you would print. So I redid my resume in December, and I started applying for stuff that looked interesting in January.

And then when I applied to the job that I got now, I was just really interested in the vision that they had. And so you don’t want to apply to all seven jobs that they have available.

But I applied to a specific job that I thought didn’t require as much upskill, that I could still do really well, and could kind of help heal my confidence. And I applied to that. And then they actually. . . So that might’ve been March, so two months, three months. And then they called a couple weeks later and they said, “Actually, based on your experience and based on your formal education, we’d also like you to apply to this one,” which is a step above what I had originally applied for. And that’s the job that I actually ended up getting was the one that they had asked me to apply for, that I didn’t initially see.

Daphne:

Did you have a foot in the door at this company, or was it just your resume and really doing a lot of homework?

Mackenzie:

It must have just been my really beautiful interview. No, I’m kidding. No, it was homework. It was a lot of… Teachers have really fantastic transferable skills. And so a lot of the job that I have right now, it’s a project coordinator position, but it’s also event planning, it’s also running trainings. All of these things that felt so much in my wheelhouse that I was able to say, “Yes, I can do this with small children, but I can also do it with older adults.”

So I didn’t have a foot in the door at my current job, but I do think because it’s local, it’s a national nonprofit with a local branch here, that gave me a leg up as well because I wasn’t competing against 500 people. I was competing against 10. And so that was advantageous.

Daphne:

Yeah. And it does sound like all of those different, transferable skills were highly valuable. They were able to see it on your resume. Did they ask you any of the questions that potentially were in the course interview modules that helped you prepare for it during your interview process?

Mackenzie:

Yeah. And so I also used. . . I want to say Glassdoor has the option where you can go in and read what interview questions have already been asked. And so it had five or six of the questions on there. But when I went in, it was a panel interview. It was over Zoom, work a lot over Zoom. So it was a panel interview with 10 people, and they asked me 15 questions. It was quite a bit. So I was anticipating the six and I got the 15.

But you talk a lot about technology, and how teachers use so much technology that if you don’t sit and write it down, you don’t realize that you’ve almost beta tested every single app that’s out there, right? Because you’re trying to make it work in the classroom.

So they asked me a couple of questions about, what do I understand about Canva, and what’s my understanding of PowerPoint and Zoom? And those kinds of more generic ones. And then one of the questions was, “If you don’t know how to use these platforms, how would you go about figuring out how to use them?”

And so my answer usually to that was just that because I am a millennial and I grew up with technology, I can kind of figure it out. And I think that teachers just kind of have to figure everything out, and they liked that. I was trying to remember… I was talking to my coworkers today actually. I’m like, “Do you even remember what questions were asked?” Because it was kind of a blur. They asked me about my communication style, what’s a positive and a negative of my communication style. And I thought that was interesting. Lots of questions about equity and diversity, which I think teachers are ahead of the curve on. But I do think a lot of it was just, “Is she trainable?” A lot of those questions were, “If you couldn’t figure it out, how would you figure it out?”

Daphne:

Yeah. That’s something so many hiring managers are looking for is, “Is this person coachable, and are they coming in with the mindset of I’m not 100% an expert, and I understand that, because this is going to be a role that’s new to me.” Or are they coming in defensive and overly confident, because that can be a turnoff of, “I know everything that there is to know about a project coordinator position at a national nonprofit.” That type of overconfidence can scare someone of, “If we told them that they needed to learn something new, they’re going to say, ‘No, I don’t need to learn that. I’m fine.'”

Mackenzie:

Totally.

Daphne:

“I know it all. Just let me run the place.”

So it’s just the way that you exude confidence of, “I know I’m passionate about this. Here’s what I’ve done to bridge any knowledge gaps. Here’s examples of me teaching myself on my own, or how I have taught myself other things that are somewhat related if I’ve never really heard of this term before.” And it sounds like you did such a good job with that. Do you mind sharing a little bit? I know you said training, there’s event planning. What other types of duties do you have as this project coordinator?

Mackenzie:

That’s an interesting question as well, because I do feel like I’m still learning it. I’ve only been doing it for three months at this point. But just in the same way that teachers wear many hats, this job also wears many hats.

So there’s the training piece. We train family court judges on current policy. So the lawyers within the office, they make the content, but then the project coordinators make sure that it’s accessible. So that’s the definition of teaching.

We do in-person trainings, help run those. I guess the best way to explain it is those are for the grantees who are getting money to run these trainings. And so we kind of play the middleman for technical assistance and resources.

And so I’ve been learning to do it all. They’ve given me opportunities to do the marketing, so that’s a little bit more of that creative piece that I’m looking for. They’re helping me run registrations, they’re letting me be forward facing, which is nice. My day looks different all the time.

Daphne:

That sounds like such a good fit for a teacher. One question I’ve asked a lot of recent former teachers who have had scrum master roles or other types of positions is, do you feel like when you first started looking for roles outside the classroom, you would’ve even looked at this job title as a possibility for you?

Mackenzie:

No. And I think that that goes back to, like I said, my 18-year-old self trying to decide what it is that I wanted to do. It was like, “You could be a doctor, you could be a lawyer. You could be a teacher.” I had really no concept of how many different jobs are out there. And just because you have a degree in something, doesn’t mean that you have to live there.

And that was one question at the end of my interview, that they had asked me if I had any questions and I had said, “Yeah, what are your guys’ degrees in?” Because it seemed like a really diverse panel. And one of them was like, “She’s got a master’s degree in English, and another one in agriculture.” And so when they said that, I was like, “I’m going to be fine.”

And so that has been a really cool experience, because as a teacher, you’re surrounded mostly by everybody who has the same degree, and you’re just so limited to your own perspective. And so it was really nice to learn from other people.

Daphne:

And it’s so easy to have this initial gut reaction to, “I’m only going to look at job titles that have the word learning in it, or education in it, or instruction in it, or training in it, because those are all very familiar to me.” And other things seem boring, or dull, or cold. And then you start to expose yourself to all these different environments and different people who do the jobs. And you realize, “A lot of this could be very similar to teaching. It’s just I hadn’t been exposed to that world.”

Mackenzie:

Absolutely. On one of your podcasts, you were talking about a curriculum writer. That makes total sense for teachers to be able to move into curriculum. And then you said something like, “They want people who can sit with curriculum for 10 hours a day.” And I was like, “Heck no. I can’t do that.”

And so that was one of those things, that was really a turning point for me where I was like, “Well, maybe I don’t have to stay in education specifically, just because that’s what my background is in. Are there more exciting opportunities?”

Daphne:

But now you’re writing curriculum.

Mackenzie:

I’m just making sure it’s accessible.

Daphne:

You’re editing curriculum and training on curriculum, but in small little micro batches of it, and able to have a team and collaborate. Some people love curriculum writing. So if you’re like, “Her job sounds terrible, there’s a lot of people, and I want to sit in my office for eight hours,” you may love it.

Mackenzie:

You may love it, you may love it. And that was also a lesson that I learned too, is that when I was at school, I was surrounded by people who really seemed to love their job, and that made me feel sad and lesser than, because I didn’t feel that way. But now that I’m out of it, I realize that the healthiest choice for me was to step away from it, because I do need to make space for those people who are very passionate about the profession, because that’s not who I am anymore.

And so my new job is just kind of this whole mix of all of these things that I feel like I’m good at and I’m just getting an opportunity to try new stuff. And so that’s been super fun.

Daphne:

How do you feel like your work life balance is in this new role?

Mackenzie:

I feel like it’s changed my entire life, because before, I’d come home and I was so consumed by just what needed to happen at school. My weekends were so short. It’s not enough to be miserable for five days just to have two off, because Saturday would be great, and then Sunday I was mentally preparing to go back into the classroom, and I was just not resting.

And I remember sitting at dinners, and I’m not listening to people because my brain is just elsewhere. And I told my husband after I got out, it was a Tuesday afternoon, and I said, “It feels like the weekend to me.” And it’s just a Tuesday. I had gotten home, and it wasn’t a particularly stressful day, but I wasn’t in the classroom.

And so that bit of me feeling like my whole life is like the weekend, because I can stay up a little later if I want to, and I can go to a doctor’s appointment in the morning if I want to. It just really feels like work is kind of structured around my life, as opposed to the other way around.

Daphne:

I remember the first feeling of, “I can say yes to friends’ birthday parties.”

Mackenzie:

Yeah.

Daphne:

Really weird small things that I started to… I was in my early thirties and I was saying, “No, I’m sorry. I can’t do that.” Even if I got home at nine, I would be too exhausted. Mentally, I wouldn’t have fun there, and I just felt like I had so much to do on every weekday. The change is just so much different when you do find something that is a good fit.

Mackenzie talks about what she learned about herself during the transition process

I like to end the podcast episodes with my favorite question to ask. What did you learn about yourself during the process?

Mackenzie:

I feel like it’s such a kitschy answer, but that I’m just so much more capable than doing one job forever. And that just as personalities, we all have so many different opportunities to do other things, and you just have to be brave enough to go and seek out those opportunities.

And so I think in this instance, I found that I am brave and I can make brave choices. And even when they’re scary, they can still turn out really well. And so I think I’ve learned bravery.

Daphne:

Do you feel like this is going to continue to translate for the rest of your life and to other scary choices?

Mackenzie:

I jokingly said to my husband, I was like, “I kind of feel unstoppable now.” Because you want me to run the company? I got you. And my husband’s been great. And he said, “Well, this will be the hardest transition. Getting out of the classroom will be the hardest one,” because now, I’m a project coordinator. I could go be a project coordinator, whatever, at any place.

And so I do feel like it’s, I don’t want to say untouchable, but it has boosted my confidence in a way that I’m like, “Okay, I could do this. I could stay however long I want, but the choice is mine.” Where before, it didn’t feel like the choice was mine.

Daphne:

That’s so great. Mackenzie, I’m so excited that you came on and shared your story. I know we were rooting for you in the course community, and I’m so glad that you’re invincible now.

Mackenzie:

Thank you. Yeah, yeah, it feels good.

Daphne:

It’s been so great to connect with you, and thank you so much for coming on and sharing.

Mackenzie:

Yes, thank you so much, and congratulations on those babies.

Daphne:

Thank you.

Mentioned in the episode:

  • Our career path quiz at www.teachercareercoach.com/quiz
  • Explore the course that has helped thousands of teachers successfully transition out of the classroom and into new careers: The Teacher Career Coach Course (If you are a Teacher Career Coach Course member, you can also sign up for our one-on-one Career Clarity calls.)

Step out of the classroom and into a new career, The Teacher Career Coach Course