From Teacher to Human Resources

EP 27 Katelyn Samuels: From Teaching to Human Resources


On this episode of the Teacher Career Coach Podcast, I sit down with former teacher Katelyn Samuels. Despite loving the impact she was able to have as a teacher, Katelyn knew she wanted to feel more supported and respected as an employee and have a better work-life balance. That’s when she stepped into the corporate world, and she’s been climbing the corporate ladder ever since. Listen as she shares why she believes it’s possible to be both a great worker and a great mama (at the same time). Follow along as we walk through her post-teaching journey through various roles in Human Resources and how you can begin your own journey too.

Recap and BIG Ideas:

  • It’s important to remember your job is just one part of your life and therefore should allow you to nurture other aspects of your life as well. 
  • You deserve to work in a position where you feel supported, respected, and appreciated
  • It’s okay to feel frustrated by the limited opportunities for growth and advancement within the field of education. 
  • Entry-level positions are a great way to get your foot in the door at a company and open up new opportunities down the road. 
  • Teachers are often far more qualified with transferable skills and experiences than they realize. 
  • There are skills you can learn now to help build your resume for a future career change
  • Roles in the corporate world often offer far more perks and flexibility than one may assume.

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

You can love and appreciate education and still know it isn’t the career choice for you and the life you want to live. 

Daphne: Hey, Katelyn. Thank you so much for joining us here today.

Katelyn: Thanks for having me.

Daphne: I would love it if you could start by sharing your experience working as a teacher. 

Katelyn: I was the textbook definition of a teacher. As a first-year teacher, I left my hometown to move across the country to North Carolina where I accepted my first job right out of the gate. I had just graduated in December and took over a class that January. I was excited to jump right into the classroom.  At the time, I thought teaching was going to be my forever career. 

Truthfully, I loved the actual education part. I loved being with the students and my general experience as a lead teacher. However, after my first year, I quickly realized I didn’t enjoy the experience as an employee. I loved what I was doing with my own work but didn’t enjoy the school’s working culture nor what it did to my life outside of teaching. I knew my job was going to be an essential component of my life, but I didn’t want it to be my whole life. 

Initially, I switched schools to try out a different district and grade level. I wanted to try different things in an attempt to figure out why I was unhappy. Again, I quickly realized it wasn’t much different. I wasn’t alone, either. My peers were also feeling unsupported and like their quality of life wasn’t what they wanted it to be. When you’re in the field, you’re almost expected to put your whole self into your job, and that’s exactly what we do as teachers. But to get nothing back from that job in your own life? That’s where I felt disconnected. 

Daphne: I think that that’s something that a lot of teachers can resonate with, especially feeling like they’re not able to have a life outside of the classroom. Many teachers go into this as one of their top career choices without realizing there are other, perhaps more balanced, ways to work and live. 

I was about 27 when I started teaching, so I did have careers prior to being an educator. Within the first three years, when those first-day jitters wouldn’t go away, I realized it wasn’t for me. I had never had a job that made me feel that way, and it was tough because I love education and kids. However, something just didn’t feel right when it came to the lifestyle. I think a lot of people who are listening right now probably are struggling with that. 

So, what was it that really made you realize you needed to find a different career? 

Katelyn: Again, I was new to the area and trying to immerse myself in the community, make friends, settle down with my fiance, and start that next chapter of our life together. After talking with my now-husband about our future plans and what we wanted our life to look like, it became very apparent that my career wouldn’t really allow that. Teaching was affecting my mental health and I wasn’t able to nurture other areas in my life because I was spending so much of my time and effort in the classroom. Even when I wasn’t in the classroom, I was spending time thinking about the classroom, and that took an emotional toll. I spent hours dreading things and feeling worried and anxious. 

I knew that I wanted to be a mom and that my husband and I had plans for what we wanted our life to look like. I knew I didn’t want my family to always get the last 5% of me. I knew that’s the road I was heading down. I already felt like I didn’t have enough time, so I didn’t know how I could fit a family into that. So for me, it was really taking a second to step back and think if I wanted to commit to this career, knowing that would be how it would go for the rest of my life. Was that a road I wanted to continue to go down, especially considering it wasn’t financially supportive? 

I started looking at the benefits and what I was getting back from the career. Was I being paid well? No. Was there room and support for me to learn and grow in my career, raising up in the organization? No. There were different things that I knew I wanted to get out of my career long term and they weren’t available with teaching. I felt that if I continued down that path, I was just going to essentially be wasting my time before I made the transition later down the line. 

So, it was really just an opportunity to acknowledge it wasn’t working and figure out what the next steps were. I thought about the things that I needed to do at that time so that when I got to that point in life where I wanted to buy a home or have children, I would feel more comfortable. 

From Teacher to Human Resources

There are ways to pivot away from teaching and into positions where you feel more respected and appreciated as an employee. 

Daphne: Your first pivot outside of the classroom was actually working for the school district you were employed by at the time, correct?

Katelyn: Yes. I had a conversation with the leaders at my school and explained how I was interested in pursuing something in a different field, yet still wanted that connection to education, the students, the classroom, and the teachers. I loved the enrichment and reward I felt from being part of that world, but I knew I didn’t want to be directly responsible for a classroom anymore. 

Initially, I pivoted to a role in Human Resources within the same district that I was working in. More specifically, I started in the talent management sector of Human Resources. While that encompasses a lot of things, a lot of what I focused on was performance management. That included performance reviews, classroom observations, and other things of that nature for the entire district. I did that for teachers as well as district-level personnel, like principals, superintendents, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, etcetera. 

It was a great learning opportunity to be able to see all the moving parts. When you’re in a classroom, you’re not always aware of all the opportunities that are out there. There were so many jobs in Human Resources that you don’t even realize are opportunities until you’re in that seat exposed to them. So, it was a great transition for me to see how the Human Resources function worked, and to be exposed to all of those moving pieces that support the teachers in the classroom on a daily basis.

Daphne: I heard you mentioned that you came from a toxic work environment, which was something that I also experienced. But It’s interesting that you then got to be part of the evaluation process. Did you low-key love evaluating principles? 

Katelyn: It’s funny that you say that because I had a lot of concerns when I was in my classroom and there was a lot of turnover in the school and a lot of issues with the culture in general. So, one of the things I did in that new position was look at everything more holistically and see if we were doing our best as a district to evaluate everyone in a fair capacity because that was not my experience as a teacher. I started considering what we needed to do at a district level so others wouldn’t have that same experience. 

As a teacher, you shouldn’t feel like you’re under this magnifying glass compared to other positions in the school. We’re all there for the same goal. So, while it was interesting to be on the other side, these issues were something I felt very passionate about and knew they needed to change. It was helpful for me to use that experience I had in a toxic environment as fuel as I considered how we could improve the experience for others. 

Teachers often face limited opportunities for growth and advancement within the field of education. 

Daphne: You started out in that first role, but were there either opportunities for you to continue to grow within the district?

Katelyn: It was very evident that once I was outside the classroom, there were so many more opportunities to build my skills and learn about different jobs. Some districts have strong teacher leader programs where you can build your caseload and you can become a stronger lead teacher or move into a facilitator role or something of that nature. Regardless, there’s a lot less room for professional and personal growth. 

In teaching, a lot of times the recommendation is just to move to a different grade level or a different subject once you’re feeling bored or once you’ve mastered a subject. There isn’t a lot for you in terms of flexibility, money, or professional development. Once I had moved into HR, it was very easy to see there were so many opportunities to learn much more than you thought you could. Seeing my peers and the experiences they had helped me realize that there was so much possibility and opportunity out there. 

Daphne: I think a lot of people struggle with that lack of opportunity and growth. I know I did. When I first left teaching, I became an educational consultant. I mean, my last school environment was so toxic that I was open to any new opportunity.  However, when you’re evaluating if leaving is the right decision for you, you’re coming from it with such a skewed point of view that makes it hard to understand the corporate ladder or even the different opportunities that could open up after you gain experience in that initial position. 

So, instead of really questioning if I wanted to be an educational consultant for the rest of my life, I jumped in, and then within a few months, I realized there were so many options. For example, I could go in the direction of creating professional development online or become the director of professional development for a large education company. Ultimately, that helped me go into instructional design. Just looking and seeing all these different opportunities, even roles that I never had heard of before, opened my eyes to all that was out there, including jobs that former teachers were finding success in. 

Were most of the people working in HR at the school district former teachers as well?

Katelyn: There were a lot of former principals, teachers, or others who had pivoted from somewhere in the building into the HR function. Some were HR professionals, but most of us were just looking for roles where we could still be tied to education while having the ability to grow in a different way. I think it’s important to note that teaching experience is valuable even outside of the classroom. When I was in the classroom, I had the impression that teaching was the only thing I was really qualified to do. 

There are so many skills you develop and use as a teacher. Think about the many hats teachers wear every day that translate very easily into other spaces. You don’t really see it that way when you’re in the classroom, but you can take those skills and experiences and apply them in a corporate setting instead of a nonprofit. I think there’s a gap where teachers don’t necessarily understand that those skills they’re building and the time they’re putting in aren’t wasted or useless. You’re gaining a lot of experience that’s going to apply and pivot very easily into something else.

Daphne: I hate generalizing for such a large audience because I don’t know everybody’s specific situation. But for me, my imposter syndrome and low career self-esteem came when I didn’t feel as valuable as I actually was, despite my skills and experiences. That’s because people might give you a candy bar on Teacher Appreciation Day, but for the rest of the school year, you don’t feel appreciated or valued. A lot of times we’re not treated like professionals. After spending three years in education, I got three years’ worth of candy bars, but I didn’t really feel like many people sat down and treated me like a professional in the same capacity as they have since I’ve left the classroom. 

I think that’s one of the most tragic things about it all. If teachers felt more valued and respected by society in general, and not just a $10 Starbucks card that they get on Valentine’s Day or Teacher Appreciation Day, then they would know that they were respected and valued in other positions. Or maybe they’d be less inclined to want to leave for other careers and roles in the first place. 

Katelyn: Exactly. Now, in my teaching role, I actually felt very respected and appreciated by the parents of my students and the kids themselves. I had a positive experience in that regard. For me, it was really more about the negative experience as an employee. Those issues were more about the building administration and the adults that were responsible for my job. 

I just felt that there was an attitude of, “This is just how it is here.” When it came to understanding the culture or unhappiness and the high turnover rates, people would just tell me that was what it was like in the education field. When you’re talking about people’s livelihoods, that’s not good enough for me. I mean, this is a job. This is something that’s enriching a life that we already have. So, when it comes to exchanging your time for your job, you need to get something back from it.

Daphne: I think a lot of it depends on the fact that we come into the job so intrinsically motivated. We do have those interactions with students and know that we’re impacting education, but that quickly gets taken advantage of. You almost need to be a martyr and need to sacrifice your time. It’s as if sacrificing your time is the way you’re going to have an impact on your students. It’s this strange cycle of teacher guilt and feeling underpaid and undervalued, yet feeling that push to work more. 

There are certain career pivots out there that are great steps for teachers looking for change to take without having to go back to school. 

Before this interview, you mentioned that you are working outside of education now but still in a Human Resources capacity. You also said that you noticed a lot of former teachers were in those roles as well. Can we talk a bit about your new industry? 

Katelyn: I spent about three to four years working in the Human Resource department of that district before making the jump to the corporate world. I’ve been in the corporate world for a few years now. I thought I would be a fish out of the water and be the only person in HR that came from the classroom. I assumed I would have to do a ton of work to catch up and learn those foundational skills. I came to realize more than half of my team had come from some sort of background in education.  Some people were former teachers or facilitators, and others went to school for education but never ended up in the classroom. There were so many journeys people took to get there.

My transition was a slower one, going from the classroom to a district HR position and now to a corporate function. While our journeys looked different, we all had the same goal of personal and professional growth. We all wanted to learn and have opportunities to use those skills that we gained from past experience in education, or not, in a fulfilling way. It’s been a great journey to realize the various pathways that you can take to get there. 

A lot of my peers even started as administrative assistants, office managers, or other roles where you’re just dealing with organization. That’s something we do all the time as teachers. We’re always organizing, planning, making sure everybody is prepared and where they need to be. So you can start in that type of role with the skills you already have and learn the other elements of the business.  

The biggest hurdle for me was just learning what it looked like to be in a corporate function compared to a public sector. What are the things I need to know? How does this business operate? What are the goals of this business? In the private sector, many of the goals are financial instead of the softer goals in education. Another big difference for me was understanding what drives the people in the company differently than what drives people in education? Those drivers were the key for me in learning how to pivot into a new field.

Daphne: I feel like you are already a Teacher Career Coach course member because a couple of the titles that you just mentioned are some that were off my radar when I first looked for jobs outside of the classroom. As I started to grow in helping others in this capacity, that was something that many people were interested in. Roles like office managers and executive assistants are some of the best career pivots for teachers who are very organized and detail-oriented and have strong people and strong communication skills.

You can easily look for companies within your area for those types of opportunities. Many of them don’t require additional schooling or certifications, as long as you’re able to present yourself as a professional.

Katelyn: At the company I’m at now, a lot of people who have education degrees don’t have advanced degrees or anything like that. A lot of people begin in those office administration roles and talent acquisition and staffing roles, like campus manager recruiting at different campuses, traveling to universities for recruitment, and things of that nature. That’s an easier pivot for a lot of people. Anything in that talent acquisition and learning space is going to be a good place to pivot, whether it’s training, facilitating courses and modules, developing a course, or leadership development. 

Right now, I work a lot in leadership development with managers in a corporate function. The skills that I’m teaching them about being a strong leader are very similar to the things that I worked with when I was working with teachers on how to be a strong classroom leader. You’re really just managing a large group of adults in many ways. It’s those soft skills that we’re looking at. It’s nothing that you need school to do. It’s just the experience of taking those skills and applying them to just a different group of people. 

A lot of people come into the HR space in those areas, but once you’re there, you can really learn a lot about other pathways available to you. Maybe you want to learn more about working with compensation or benefits. Maybe you’re interested in the analytic space because you’re good with data. Really, once you get there, the opportunities are endless.

Be open to entry-level positions. Once you get your foot in the door at a company, there are various pathways you could take. 

Daphne: That’s a wonderful point. Many people looking to get into a company should pursue just getting into the company somewhere where they fit. If it’s a company that has a lot of job security, you can then usually pivot into different roles and departments within the company down the line.

I was on a sales enablement team as an instructional designer, and one of the things that I was really passionate about was learning more about graphic design. I was constantly eyeing the marketing department and collaborating with them, and learning skills that I personally wanted to know. That’s an opportunity that many teachers are missing from their current work environment. They don’t really have the opportunity or flexibility to ask to do something completely different without the stigma or assumption of wanting to leave the career altogether. 

Katelyn: It’s what makes it difficult about just being in the classroom. When I explored different options within the school before joining the HR team, there was always a degree I needed to become part of administration or if I wanted to consider a new subject or totally different grade level. It’s very limiting to know your only two choices are to go back for more school or continue doing the same thing you’ve been doing, just maybe with a different grade level. 

Daphne: You said many roles in Human Resources don’t require certification, like office manager roles or executive assistant roles, right? I talk about this a lot in the course. Many roles are just looking for transferable experience. If you’re trying to be a CPA or something, you obviously need schooling or certifications for it. Human Resources is one of those weird gray areas where some people can find positions very easily and without going back to school. There are other jobs in HR that would require certification. That always comes down to who the hiring manager is, who’s writing the actual job description, and whatever the company is. It’s going to vary from job to job. 

Based on your experience, what insight do you have on the jobs that are more likely to require certification?

Katelyn: For the most part, aside from more executive administrative positions, most of those roles will require a bachelor’s degree, which most teachers already hold. They do not require the degree to be in something related to Human Resources. So, if you have a bachelor’s degree and you’ve been teaching, that’s usually enough to fulfill the qualifications in terms of the education requirement. 

In my experience, it’s really just seniority level that is the biggest difference. So, as long as you are coming in at what they would consider more of an entry-level role, you’re okay. Often, you’ll see terms like “coordinator”or “analyst” showing up on the job description. Those are more entry-level responsibilities, like doing some of the basic analytics for the department or organizing everything behind the scenes. A lot of these entry-level roles are behind-the-scenes roles relating to more transactional work. 

When you”re looking to pivot, a lot of it is about targeting the right level of position to get into a company.  Maybe you want to be a senior Human Resources manager or a compensation director, right? Well, perhaps you’ll need to take a lower-level position in one of those functions and learn and work your way up to doing that more senior role you are after. I don’t think many people I work with have HR certifications. It’s really not a requirement, but it depends on the company. It’s a lot more about just getting in the door and finding something appropriate for your skills and experience. 

I think there’s a big misunderstanding when it comes to entry-level positions and the financial compensation tied to those positions. If a teacher taught in the classroom for 15 years, they might not want to take something labeled “entry-level,” but a lot of times those entry-level roles actually offer more money and more flexibility. They also offer the opportunity to learn those skills that you didn’t have before. 

So, I think it’s just a bad label and I don’t recommend thinking of those positions as going backward in your career. I could have taken various entry-level roles in different companies and still get way more as an employee in terms of opportunity, compensation, respect, and more than I was when I was still in the classroom.

Be open to opportunities. Teachers are often far more qualified in terms of transferable skills and experiences than they realize. 

Daphne: I absolutely agree with you and, again, it’s as if you’ve taken the Teacher Career Coach course because so many of the things you’ve mentioned, like finding that right level of role to apply to, are things I walk people through in the course. That’s why I help teachers identify what experience level they’re at and what types of roles are most appropriate for them because there’s always the chance for people to have bias. Unfortunately, each hiring manager is an individual with their own set of biases. Some of them may see a teacher who has seven years of experience applying for a role that’s looking for something more entry-level. The hiring manager may pass on them based on assumptions of pay necessity or management compatibility.

There are always chances for bias, right? People might look at a resume highlighting 15 years in the classroom and get nervous that you’re not going to be able to easily work under someone who’s only worked in their role for three years. So, it’s so important for you to be able to identify the levels that are the most appropriate for you based on your experience and what you want out of your new job. 

You also want to work on the skill sets that will help bridge any gaps that may be present so you can confidently apply to those positions. Whether or not they will require a certification, you’re still going to need to build some skills and experience. That might mean taking online classes or leveling up your Excel game, but it’s imperative to be able to showcase that you’re truly ready for that role.  You need to show up ready to prove that you’ve done the necessary homework and you’re passionate about this specific role for a reason.

Katelyn: When you look at what’s out there, I think many times people get scared to even apply. When I was first looking, I looked everywhere and even applied for jobs I didn’t necessarily feel I was qualified for on paper. However, once you talk with a recruiter or get to that first interview, you find out that your skills are more transferable than you think. A lot of your experiences are very similar to the ones they’re asking about. Job hunting and reading job descriptions can just be a challenge when you’re trying to figure out what people are really asking for and what kind of things they want in a hiree. 

That’s why, like you said, researching, being prepared, and really just going for it even if you don’t feel you’re one hundred percent qualified is always a good idea. A lot of times, you realize you have a lot more to offer than you assumed. There are a lot more opportunities available to you than you think.

Daphne: I think a lot of it comes down to teachers not understanding how their skills actually translate. I’ve put a lot of time and research into understanding that translation and one of the things that always comes up as a transferable skill and experience in conflict resolution. I’m assuming Human Resources asks for some experience with conflict resolution, right? And teachers have experience with that in parent-teacher conferences alone. 

Katelyn: Exactly. Think about all the experiences you have between parents and just managing a difficult caseload of children in your classroom. When I was asked about different experiences that could apply to my new role, those conflict resolution ones were the first that came to my mind. If you can manage an unruly classroom and still get through your day successfully and show up ready to try again the next day, that’s huge. 

Conflict resolution is a big part of Human Resources. Now, it doesn’t mean you have to explicitly say you can do those things on your resume but think about the skills it takes to handle a difficult parent or go into a difficult conversation with a principal. Those are all things that we do every day. It makes it easier to think about the transition when you think about being able to handle the pressure of having those communication skills. 

If you look at how you handle those situations and how you behave in those scenarios, that’s where you can pull some of those ideas from. Then you can showcase how those experiences and skills could translate to something else.

There are steps you can take now to start building your resume for a future career pivot. 

Daphne: I’m sure some people are listening right now looking to level up their skill sets so they can be more equipped for these new roles. Their instinct might be to look up Human Resources 101, but do you have any thoughts on different types of courses that you would refer teachers to for developing those skills? What types of courses would you recommend teachers look into?

Kately: Leadership is definitely the biggest one. In general, learning and leadership development as a whole might just be the easiest entryway in terms of a very transferable area. There are also a lot of ongoing professional development opportunities out there. So, anything related to those things, whether it’s coaching, leadership development, or public speaking, is going to be useful. I suggest looking for opportunities where you are working with adults, speaking to large groups, and just learning how to apply some of those things from the classroom to an adult population would be helpful. 

Now, there are courses you can take around some of the HR certifications. Even if you don’t go for the certification itself, you can take an entry-level Human Resources course to learn some of the basics. I just went on Amazon and looked for a book that was about Human Resources certification and testing. I took the time outside of work to learn some of the laws, history, and context of Human Resources, which helped me understand why we had to do things a certain way. So, there are definitely things you can learn on your own. There are courses out there on that stuff as well. Honestly, I think there are unlimited ways that you can learn those things. 

I had already taken quite a few data courses as a teacher around analyzing data and how to use it in an actionable way. Any information you can learn or courses you can take around data is very helpful in Human Resources in general because it’s a huge part of most jobs in the field. If you think about it, teachers track and use data all the time. In HR, it’s more understanding turnover or satisfaction rates and such, so just looking at some of that information and understanding what it means and what to do with it would be extremely helpful in Human Resources.

Looking for a job in Human Resources? Here are a few of Katelyn’s tips to help you get started. 

Daphne: I know a lot of listeners live in smaller cities and communities. When it comes to Human Resources, I’ve always directed them to look for opportunities at manufacturing companies or some sort of large plant nearby because they likely have a customer success team or Human Resources teams that might have opportunities for them. It seems like these positions would be more face-to-face, but I’d love your input on that.

Katelyn: COVID has definitely changed things. So, right now, if you are looking into a career in HR, there are remote opportunities than than ever before. Generally speaking, you’re right about the face-to-face responsibilities. It really depends on which function of Human Resources you’re going into though. Suppose you are going into what you’d consider a client facing department, like employee relations. In that case, you do want to be centrally located or okay with traveling between different locations to meet with employees. 

Suppose you’re looking more on the behind-the-scenes part of Human Resources, like talent acquisition and recruitment, or working on compensation change or benefits analysis. In that case, anything that’s really spreadsheet-driven is often more remote-friendly. So, even if you’re located in an area where you don’t have access to a lot of companies, I think it’s helpful to look at some of those larger companies like Deloitte or KPMG. Often you can find remote entry-level positions within those larger firms. 

If you’re looking to stay local, I would argue most companies have a Human Resources function. A lot of it is just reaching out to them and asking about opportunities and learning what businesses are in your area. These opportunities can be found in any type of industry. Even if you want to stay in a nonprofit or an education-based field, they have Human Resources functions. You can pivot into a different district or pivot into just the government for your state. 

Human Resources departments love bringing in people from education. So, there’s really a lot of places to look if you’re willing to go beyond the surface level of what’s on a job page. Just start making connections and learning what businesses are around you because every business depends on Human Resources to function.

While teaching is often assumed to be the “perfect” job for mothers, corporate roles offer far more perks and flexibility than one may assume. 

Daphne: You’ve been such a great guest, and I was hoping to switch gears a little bit here to talk about another component of your career pivot. I know you got into Human Resources to make sure that you had more of a work-life balance and wanted to start a family with your husband. Can you talk a bit about your experience with that and being a mother in your new career?

Katelyn: Growing up, I always thought if I wanted to be a mom someday, I knew being a working mom would be important to me. So, I wanted a job that allowed me to have that work-life balance. My mom didn’t always have that, and so it was something I knew that I wanted. I thought going into education would be a great way to have that because of the schedule, time off, and things of that nature. 

As I’m sure many do, I quickly realized the workload and that vision of what you think teaching will be is not the same as what it is. There”s also the everyday emotional toll and guilt that you feel that impact that balance. You’re working longer hours, and you don’t have the brain space to come home and be the person you want to be for your family. 

When I first pivoted into a role in HR, I was worried about signing up for a desk job where I worked eight to five. I thought I would miss even more in my personal life and feel chained to my desk. I was shocked and surprisingly happy to learn there are a lot of opportunities, in both Human Resources and corporate settings in general, to have that balance and more flexibility. 

Again, it’s the whole concept of your job being part of your life, not your whole life. You are signing up to work there in exchange for something back. Maybe you’re working in an eight-to-five position, but you’re being paid very well to accommodate for the fact that you’re working so many hours. Maybe you don’t want to work eight to five, so you work 10 hour days in order to have a day off with your kids during the week. I know people who do flexible hours where they start earlier to get out in time to get their kids off the bus. 

There are so many ways to look at flexibility and the meaning of work-life balance. Whereas in a classroom, you have to be there with the kids. Sometimes you can’t even go to the bathroom when you need to go because you have to make sure you are present and available. When I had to take time off, I was either paying for a sub myself or spending hours preparing to take time off. Now, I just take time off, and it’s my time that I was owed. I’ve earned that PTO, and I can just take a day off without owing anybody anything, and I don’t have to prepare for it. 

Simple things like that were huge for me. If one of my kids were sick and I wanted to be there, I could be. I didn’t want to feel like I had to pay out of my pocket to afford to take the day off or figure out what I would do to cover my classes in order to be home with my children. Even before I had my children, I knew I wanted the freedom to have those choices. I wanted a full-time job but still wanted to know that I could craft that job around my life because it was only one part of my life.

To all the working mama bears out there: you’re not alone! 

Daphne: And this is something that you’re so passionate about that you actually write blogs about it and have built a community just solely around supporting working mothers, correct? 

Yes. I operate a blog on the side because I have so much free time. Just kidding. I have a blog called Freshly Brewed Mama. I usually post about once a week, and I’ve built a strong network of other working moms through my emails and social media. My goal is to make sure that other people, especially first-time working parents, don’t experience what I did.

I remember being a first-time mom working in HR within education. I was so overwhelmed with the idea of going back to work and figuring out what it would look like as a working parent. I felt alone and like I didn’t have anybody there to really talk with or to support me through it. There weren’t really any resources out there. It was a hard transition. 

Now, my goal is to connect with other people and look at what’s working for them and what they need, so they don’t have that experience of feeling alone and unsupported. So far, it’s been a great opportunity for me just to meet people around the country who are in a similar situation of being a working parent, whether it’s by choice or need.  

You might be a mom first, but how do you make sure that you’re building a career that you love? That you’re finding ways to connect with others who understand and are going through the same thing or have already been there? We just want to make it easier for the next person. My community is similar to your community in that way. It’s great to have a place where you can shamelessly ask questions and be met with support. 

Sometimes it’s even just understanding your rights as a working mother. That’s a big thing in teaching and just understanding those rights around time off, maternity leave, and all of those things. It’s important to have a safe outlet for those questions and a place where you can just learn more about yourself and your rights. 

Daphne: Thank you so much for joining us here today. I know that so many teachers are looking forward to connecting with you and reading everything you have to say, especially about being a working mom, because you brought so much knowledge to today’s conversation. I’m just so grateful that you took the time to speak with us.

Katelyn: I really appreciate you inviting me on the show, and I’m so glad to be a part of your community. I’ve loved every minute of connecting with other teachers because I think it’s helpful to have a place where you can see what’s out there and what other people are doing. 

Thanks so much for having me today, and I look forward to continuing to work with everyone.

Where to start

If you’re just beginning to think about leaving teaching, brainstorming other options is a great place to start. But if you’re like many others, teaching was your only plan – there never was a Plan B. You might feel at a loss when it comes to figuring out what alternatives are out there.

Start with our free quiz, below, to get alternative job options for careers that really do hire teachers!

What career outside the classroom is right for YOU? Free Quiz

Taking the First Steps to a New Career

If you’ve already taken our quiz, it may be time for the next steps. I want to help you get some clarity in the options available to you. To know EXACTLY what you need to do (and not do) in order to get your foot in the door.

One of the biggest mistakes that I see teachers make is that they try to navigate this process alone. Often, they put off “researching” until the very last minute. Which sets them up for a very stressful application season – trying to juggle teaching, figuring out a resume, researching jobs, and hoping to nail down some interviews before signing next year’s contract.

You don’t have to do this on your own.

If you are considering a career change from teaching, I have a resource that can help you today. With the help of an HR expert with over 10 years of experience, I’ve created a guide to support you in the early stages of your transition out of the classroom.

In the Career Transition Guide, I’ll walk you through the factors to consider and answer those first-step planning questions including:

Career Transition Guide
  • A compiled list of over 40 careers that teachers can transition into
  • An overview of how to read job descriptions
  • How to evaluate the risk of leaving a full-time teaching job for the unknown
  • Example translations from classroom-to-corporate resumes
  • A checklist of everything you’ll need to do for your career transition (so you know you aren’t missing anything!)
  • and more…

Take the first steps on your path to a new career now for only $19 $9!


or click here to learn more

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