64 - Corporate Trainer Brooke Ford's Transition from Teaching
Transition from teaching: loan originator to corporate trainer

64 – Corporate Trainer Brooke Ford’s Transition from Teaching

TeacherCareerCoach

On this week’s episode I interview Brooke Ford about her transition from teaching. Brooke, a former middle school teacher for nine years who became a loan originator, quickly realized that it was not the role for her. She combined her past experiences and is currently a corporate trainer for a national mortgage company. It’s important to know that sometimes you will get into a role that you realize is not right for you, but it can provide you with skills and experiences to end up exactly where you’re meant to be.

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

Transition from Teaching with Brooke Ford

Daphne Gomez:
Hi, Brooke. Thank you so much for being here today.

Brooke Ford:
Thank you for having me.

Daphne Gomez:
Brooke, I want to start off with everybody who is listening is probably curious about your experience in education. That’s how I always like to start all of my former teacher stories.

Brooke Ford:
Sure. So pretty typical start to my teaching career. I got a job right out of college teaching sixth, seventh, and eighth grade language arts. So as a newer teacher, that was a little intimidating. And it was also at a school where I was in the middle of nowhere. I didn’t know anyone. And I was also coaching track. So I thought it was just like college where you’re teaching all day. You come home, and you’re working all night, and you’re coaching, and you just do it every day for the whole school year.

After that year, I was offered a job closer to home teaching seventh grade language arts. So it was a little bit less of a workload as far as the number of preps that I had. And I was doing the same thing. I was either coaching cross country, or track, or both. And I also was the student council sponsor for a little bit.

I thought I was really great at it. I feel like one of strengths was my ability to build relationships with the kids and be that person for them. But eventually, it got to the point that I was noticing that my feelings about it were changing a little bit.

Considering a Transition from Teaching

Daphne Gomez:
Yeah. So you started to notice that you were probably unhappy more often than you were happy at some point?

Brooke Ford:
Yeah. And it’s weird because people glorify the summers off, and the breaks, and that time that you get to supposedly recharge. But those were really hard for me. I have a really difficult time when my routine is interrupted that severely. So when the school year changes and the school year starts back up, I found myself year after year getting more I guess depressed.

I ended up being diagnosed with depression. It’s like by that point, you don’t even enjoy your breaks and your summers because you’re just in a hole mentally, and you don’t get to enjoy that time.It goes into the school year and it starts to affect you. When it affects you, it affects the students. And then you almost resent it a little bit.

I loved the people that I worked with. I was teaching with some of my best friends. But it was getting to the point that even that could not keep me in it anymore. And that’s what was keeping me in it for those last couple years that I was teaching.

Daphne Gomez:
Thank you for sharing a little bit and being vulnerable right off the spot with your struggle with depression. Everybody’s story is very unique. Yours is not that unique. It’s something that a lot of us ended up struggling with. And that’s one of the clear indicators that this is not a right position for you. If your mental health health is severely impacted by this position.

Seeking Support for Depression

Daphne Gomez:
Many people do find themselves recharged during the summers. I was not one of those people – I was not myself because right off the bat, there was that pit in my stomach. I don’t want to go back to that job. And that’s not who I am as a person. I’m usually an optimistic person, able to conquer all things. But for some reason, this position was just too much for me to mentally handle. And I just never enjoyed my summers. When you were struggling with depression, did you seek any mental health support? Were you going to therapy?

Brooke Ford:
I probably waited too long to reach out for help. And I know we’ll get into what I was doing after teaching. But I started seeing a therapist shortly after I resigned from my teaching job.

I’ve had anxiety my entire life pretty much. The depression was kind of just brought on top of it. And when the school year’s going, it’s like okay. I don’t have time for therapy – I have to grade papers, I’m coaching. I have to see my husband, and take care of my dog, and live a life for a second. So it’s like, that’s hard too because where do you have time for yourself during the week?

First Steps to Transitioning from Teaching

Daphne Gomez:
So how did you start looking for your very first position outside of the classroom?

Brooke Ford:
So I was lucky in the sense that I had a really close family friend who was a manager for a mortgage company. And I was telling her how kind of upset I was. This past school year I was like, “This is it, I’m going to finish out the year and then I’m done.”

She was like, “Well, you can come work for me. I’ll show you the ropes, I’ll help you. I’ll basically get you out, save you from teaching at that point.” And it was going to be a job as a loan originator for a mortgage company.

I didn’t really know much about mortgage. I’ve purchased a couple houses. My mom was an underwriter for a long time, but that was the extent of my mortgage knowledge. They kind of made an exception for me of bringing me on without any experience, which was super lucky.

Brooke’s Role as a Loan Originator

Daphne Gomez:
Yeah. So tell me a little bit about that position.

Brooke Ford:
So the position involved basically helping clients with getting a loan pre-approved or doing a refinance. And at first, I was really excited because it was a remote position. I got to work from home. I got to go meet people for coffee, and talk about myself, and kind of develop my own schedule over time. As the time went on, I was realizing that this was not something I was super happy doing, for several reasons.

One, being a sales position, I feel like that’s just not my personality. Because just me personally, I feel like with sales, there’s sometimes an ulterior motive behind relationships that you’re trying to develop with people. And it can come off as not genuine and not authentic. And that always bothered me.

Already being someone who’s really anxious and finding out that it would eventually be a 100% commission position really freaked me out. Just someone who needs that stability and not good with things that are unpredictable, that was something that really freaked me out once I found that out.

Determining what Path is Right for You

Daphne Gomez:
Yeah. There’s a couple different things that you can look into. Ashley Stahl has this great book. It’s called You Turn. And they talk about the comfortability level with different types of positions. Some people really crave the stability where someone with an entrepreneur spirit might be motivated by the risk of a commission based sales position.

But you already kind of know yourself, you know that you are someone who needs that financial stability in order to survive. So she has some, I think a list of all the different types of things to evaluate about yourself as you’re going into these positions.

But if you didn’t have access to a list of those types of tools, it’s easy to just say anything sounds better than where I was in teaching. This is where I was at. Anything felt like it was going to be better. Did you feel like this role, this loan originator role was a better fit than the teaching position for you? Was your mental health starting to come back? Or was it flatlined or even worse?

Brooke Ford:
Yeah, so that’s where it gets a little complicated, because I resigned from teaching in May and started with that job immediately after. And I was really excited by the newness of it all at first and the chance to do something else to utilize my skills in a different career. Not a lot of the burden that gets brought in with teaching just in one aspect or another.

Discovering Challenges Transitioning into a Remote Position

Brooke Ford:
But I started to notice that I was getting really lonely at home all the time. Definitely taking yourself out of a school and you’re home alone 24/7 is really difficult. And it was kind of coupled with the fact that in July, my husband and I, we had to put our dog down. And after you do that and then you’re home alone, it’s like okay, I’m really alone right now.

I noticed that July was a really tough month for me, and my mental health kind of got to a pretty scary place. Something that I wasn’t used to, or didn’t recognize before. I remember sitting in my house one day, just not really motivated to do anything during the work day. And I called my sister, who’s a school counselor. And I just started bawling.

Just telling her, “I’m not happy. I’m thinking things in my head right now that are freaking me out. I don’t like how I feel. I don’t like this job anymore.” And she was kind of immediately on it. She started sending me counselor recommendations, and therapists, and people that she knew that I could get connected with.

So I kind of jumped right into the idea of therapy after that just to kind of get myself centered. And that’s when I also went back to your course, because that’s when I realized, “I have to come up with something here. I can’t keep doing this.”

Brooke’s Teacher Transition Timeline

Daphne Gomez:
So you were a member of The Teacher Career Coach Course, even prior to becoming a loan originator?

Brooke Ford:
I was. I was doing it due diligence wise, so doing the modules all in order. And I started too late in the summer because then I started coaching. And then once you’re back in the school year, it’s kind of that thing. I don’t have any time to do this correctly.

So I put it on the back burner at the time because I didn’t want to resign in the middle of the school year on top of everything that was going on with the pandemic. And I know that’s not really putting myself in the priority position, but I had been at that school for eight years and a lot of my best friends were working there. And I couldn’t really imagine at the time putting anyone in a tougher position than we were already in.

Talking about quitting teaching mid year

Daphne Gomez:
So pretty similarly, I didn’t want to quit midyear. But I just did a podcast episode about it. It’s episode 52 about breaking your teaching contract for anybody who’s interested in listening, we go through all the things you need to know about breaking a teaching contract.

I share there, if someone would’ve given me a job in the middle of the year, I probably would have actually taken it. It’s such a hard decision for people. But I 100% respect your choice on staying through that because that’s ultimately what I did as well, and many teachers are also doing the exact same thing.

When you were looking for a new role after the loan originator position, did you ever at any time contemplate going back into the classroom?

Brooke Ford:
No.

Daphne Gomez:
So it still was a better position than you were at?

Brooke Ford:
By the time I started apply for jobs, I had been in therapy for a little bit. I had kind of taken a step back, collected myself, and was just thinking. In the meantime, I’m going to give this my best shot. I’m going to hang in there. I know that this is not going to be my forever job. So I’m just going to do what I have to do until I get out of it basically.

So I wasn’t putting in my full effort when I ultimately made that decision. But I definitely knew that I did not want to go back to teaching. It’s kind of like once you see what it’s like out of it, for me, I couldn’t imagine going back in.

Transition from teaching: loan originator to corporate trainer

Talking about the Fear of Transitioning from Teaching

Daphne Gomez:
One thing that I noticed with myself personally when I left teaching was once you rip the bandaid off of doing something big and scary, it just gets easier and easier. So did you feel like after taking this leap of faith, finding a position, were you as nervous when you were looking for a new career, or did it feel a little bit less scary?

Brooke Ford:
It was a lot less scary. And it’s weird because when I got out of teaching, I had a friend who helped me get out of teaching. And now, I was thinking to myself, “Okay, I’m on my own this time. I have to do this on my own.” And I had help. I had support from my therapist, my family, my friends, your course, my husband. And I felt a little more confident this time.

Because even though I was not in a good place mentally with this loan originator job, it was so eyeopening as far as what I needed in my next job. I knew what I liked about it better than teaching. I knew what I missed from teaching. And I knew what I needed that I currently didn’t have.

So while that job was a struggle for me, I’m so thankful that I was in it for a while, because it really helped me grow and learn a lot about myself, and what I needed in that next career.

Determining Non-Negotiables for Your Next Career

Daphne Gomez:
Do you mind clarifying or adding some details about what you knew you needed in the very next career?

Brooke Ford:
Yeah, absolutely. So I needed definitely some more human interaction. There were days as a loan originator where you don’t see anybody, you don’t talk to anybody. I didn’t leave my house. So if I couldn’t work in a physical office, I at least wanted the option to go in when I wanted to.

Brooke Ford:
I also missed getting that sense of kind of fulfillment and validation that you get from teaching. It’s like you get that instant gratification from teaching all the time that you’re doing something right and that you’re doing something that’s impactful and helpful.

And I didn’t realize that that was something I needed so badly was just feeling important and feeling like you’re making a difference in some way. I think that was the biggest thing that I missed was I just didn’t feel important and I didn’t feel like I mattered.

Because this is something I’ve thought about too, is that teachers take on their role of a teacher as that’s your identity. That’s your personality. I am a teacher, and I’m nothing else. And when I stopped being a teacher, I kind of didn’t really know who I was outside of being a teacher. And I knew that with this next job, I wanted it to be something that I was excited to do and something that I was proud of like I did when I was teaching.

Transitioning from Teaching: Losing Your Identity

Daphne Gomez:
It’s such a good point. For so many people, teaching is their identity. Then when they’re looking for their next role, they start hanging up too much of their career needing to be their identity. And they get embarrassed if they have to share what their new title is. We get so hung up on all of those.

Right now if you’re listening to this, and you’re a teacher, and you go in the grocery store and someone says, “What do you do for a living?” And you say a teacher. Then everyone says, “Oh my gosh, that’s so great. That’s the best.”

But if you were in the grocery store and you’re like, “I’m a loan originator.” They’re like, “Oh great.” You feel those vibes and you feel that energy. Teachers have the biggest struggle with trying to figure out what on paper sounds like what I accept myself to be after this.

But the truth is you don’t know you with clarity. You don’t know yourself until you get your hands dirty. You probably did not know that you were going to struggle that much with a remote position until you really threw yourself in a remote position.

There are so many things that I talk about in The Teacher Career Coach Course. I know you probably know that, but it’s a lot of you’re going to look at a role. You’re going to see this on paper. Someone listening right now might say, “I want to be an instructional designer. That sounds like what I want to do.” Until you start learning the tools, you don’t really know. Because you might start learning the tools and say, “This isn’t something that I feel like I’m going to be passionate about for the rest of my life.”

Aligning Your Core Values

Daphne Gomez:
A lot of times, our core values are aligned with our positions, but not so much that we actually … we won’t be able to see a job title and understand how that’s going to help us. Instructional designer, educational consultant. Now I’m a CEO of a recruiting agency and a podcast host. None of those make sense on paper, but all of them utilize some of my best core values.

You really like to help people. It’s very clear that you like personal interactions with people, and you like to actually be a helper, like be in service of people. And probably presenting in some capacity. But that doesn’t mean that you would be limited to teacher or corporate trainer. You may find yourself being in a customer service position and actually love that also.

You may also see that need for personal interaction – you might actually love being a real estate agent if you are one that does so with heart and not as what can I do to get you in this house? Because it would still scratch that same I’m helping people find a house. I’m talking to them. So there’s so many ways to think outside the box, but you also don’t know until you force yourself to try.

Making Your Transition from Teaching Public

Brooke Ford:
Yeah. And it’s tough too, because I always had this idea, and I’m sure this is a common thing. You’re a teacher, you’re a teacher for life. That’s what people assume. When I started telling people that okay, after this year I’m out. And once I finally kind of made it public, I couldn’t even tell you. I had people from college, and teacher friends texting me, DMing me being like, “I can’t believe you actually did this. This is awesome. I am too scared to.”

I totally get why. It’s because you feel like you can’t do anything else and you’re not supposed to do anything else. And just taking that leap is terrifying. But it’s also important to know that what you do when you get out of teaching, it does not have to be what you do forever. It could be something that really just like me, you thought you were going to be good at it. You didn’t love it, but it taught you a lot about what you need and who you are.

Brooke’s New Role as a Corporate Trainer

Daphne Gomez:
And your career as a loan originator was a stepping stone for what you’re doing now, which I’d love to get more into. So what is your newest position?

Brooke Ford:
So I am a corporate trainer for a national mortgage company.

Daphne Gomez:
How do you feel like you found that position?

Brooke Ford:
So when I was pretty low mentally, be 100% honest, I was in desperation mode to just pretty much take any and every job that I saw. So I was just going crazy on LinkedIn with applying for anything that sounded good. And I was not getting really anything back.

I was going back to your course. Specifically, I was looking at the resume materials, and I compared it to my own and I was thinking to myself, “Okay, this needs an overhaul.” So I used a lot of the tools that you had available. And as soon as I made some improvements to my resume, I was like, “Okay, I need to stop just wasting my time applying for anything and everything. What do I actually want to do?”

Developing a List of Non-Negotiables

Brooke Ford:
My therapist had kind of recommended, “Make a non-negotiable list. What do you absolutely need from a job, whether it be salary, or interacting with people, or getting to be in an office. What skills do you absolutely want to be able to showcase?”

And that really helped me. And it kind of brought me back to when I first purchased your course because corporate trainer had always been something that sounded cool. I get to teach, but I’m teaching adults. And that’s what I kind of zeroed in on after I did some more thinking and made my list.

I ended up applying at a different mortgage company, and the recruiter called me that day and she basically said, “I wish you would’ve applied yesterday. I just filled this position today.” And that’s when I’m still like, “I need to get out of this loan originator job.” So I was pretty bummed about it, but I asked her, I’m like, “Do you have anything else open right now, like something you think I might be good at?” She’s like, “Honestly looking at your resume, you are perfect for corporate training.”

And that just made my heart flutter a little bit because you have this notion that you’re not good at anything else and you’re not going to be taken seriously outside of teaching. And that’s what kind of made me decide, “Okay, corporate trainer. This is my goal going forward.”

Transition from Teaching: Applying & Interviewing for Corporate Trainer Positions

Brooke Ford:
And probably a few weeks later was when my current job position opened up, and I applied for that. I got contacted by a recruiter, got really excited about it. And I had a couple other interviews scheduled for the same week. So the resume thing definitely helped. I was getting contacted a lot more after that.

But I told my parents on the phone, I was like, “Yeah, I have a couple other interviews. But I really want this corporate trainer one.” So that was, I think right before my interview, I listened to your podcast episode about interview tips. And I took some notes I think that I had in front of me too.

Daphne Gomez:
And then also, the course has a much more thorough deep dive into all of my best interviewing tips. Were you able to refer back to that also prior to any of your interviews?

Brooke Ford:
I think I was just doing the podcast at the time. And then I also, I think the thing I was most nervous about was the salary negotiation because they had a range on LinkedIn, and the thought of that just terrified me. So I listened to that too. And I was writing things down, things that I wanted to make sure I wanted to say.

I think I did watch some of your video modules now that I think of it on interviewing and salary negotiation. I wish I had my notes in front of me, but I must have written two pages just on interview stuff from listening to you.

An Offer for a Corporate Trainer Role

Daphne Gomez:
With the salary negotiation, were you able to negotiate higher than they were proposing?

Brooke Ford:
So that’s the thing. I didn’t get a chance to negotiate. So my interview with my manager, it was probably like a 20 minute interview and she offered me the job on the spot basically.

Daphne Gomez:
Oh, wow.

Brooke Ford:
I was not ready for that, but we talked about teaching, we talked about the loan originating. And she just kind of gets to the point that she’s like, “I think you’re perfect for this. Between what you’ve done as a teacher and what you did in mortgage, this is a perfect fit.” And she offered me the top of what they had in their range for the salary. And I was like, “Okay, I guess I don’t need to try to negotiate now.”

Daphne Gomez:
That similar story happened to my sister. I helped coach her in her last managerial position. And I got her on the phone. I was like, “These are all my strategies. This is what you should do.” And then she called me back and she’s like, “I didn’t negotiate at all. They just had the top salary.” And I was like, “Dang it.”

Brooke Ford:
It’s like the thing you prepared for the most, I didn’t have to worry about.

Brooke’s Role as a Corporate Trainer

Daphne Gomez:
So tell me a little bit about your role. What exactly are you doing as a corporate trainer?

Brooke Ford:
Yeah. So I have been at this job for a little over a month now. And what I really like about it is they are very supportive with doing things when you’re ready. So I’ve been eased into my role so far, and I just officially took over the new hire trainings.

Every Monday, I am on a meeting with anyone who’s been hired in the company across the country. And it’s just a lot of orientation, showing them how things work, going through different things on the computer like Teams, and our intranet, and our mortgage software.

Day two of training is the following day. And that is just with the sales roles. So loan officers, loan officer assistance. And I walk them through just the basics of originating a loan. And what I’ve been doing more recently is there are different webinars and courses that you try to learn and try to adapt every couple weeks. But my manager is amazing, and the team that I work with is amazing.

I remember in my interview, what really stood out with my manager was she was really stressing work life balance without me even bringing it up. That was something I wrote that I wanted to ask about. And she’s like, “I’m not a micromanager. I don’t believe in pushing people. Because if you don’t feel good mentally, you can’t perform well at your job.” And I’m just like, “Where did this woman come from?”

Talking about Work-Life Balance after a Transition from Teaching

Daphne Gomez:
It’s so common that so many team teachers that I talk to after they leave the classroom and they go into their new work environment, they come back with these stories of work life balance and how nice everyone is. And when they finally take their first day to go to the dentist, and they’re so scared to ask their boss and their boss is like, “Of course you can go to the dentist with free time off.”

But it’s because we’ve fed ourselves this narrative of scary corporate environment. But in the truth, teaching is one of the most micromanaged professions I have ever seen. Where we think of course when you go to corporate, it’s going to be worse. It’s going to feel worse.

But corporate environments know you can get poached by another company. Another mortgage company might say, “I want a corporate trainer that already has this experience. I’ll pay her $5,000 more than she’s making.” They want you to be as happy as you can.

Not every company is great. There are going to be some limits out there. But you have to take that risk of if it feels right going into it, if it’s not a great fit, then you pivot and you go to the next company until you find one that is. Did you find yourself getting surprised by any of those different mindset that you may have had going into it, but actually realizing what a corporate environment was like?

Adjusting to a Corporate Environment

Brooke Ford:
Yeah. I really had no clue what to expect because I had been completely remote in the loan origination job. And I remember going into this office on the first day, it was like I was just standing in … I brought donuts because I just wanted to make a good impression. And I’m just standing in the middle of the office. I feel like my mouth was just open. And I’m looking around. This is the stuff you see in movies.

It has a ping pong table, and it has this giant room in the center with all these colorful lights, and big screen TVs. And it’s got a pop machine and a coffee machine. I’m just like where am I right now? And everyone’s so friendly, and I don’t have to go to the office, but I can go whenever I want. So I’ve kind of set up a routine for myself that I go in a couple days a week.

I’ve met a lot of the other trainers in person. They are the nicest group of people I’ve ever met. If I need anything, I can get a response and some help instantly.

It’s like no one’s out to get each other, or make someone look bad, or try to make themselves look better. It’s like they’re genuinely wanting you to do well and they genuinely want you to help you. And we are a team because we’re all pushing out and creating content together. And that’s just not something I was used to prior either. So it’s just the whole environment is just, I could not have landed in a better place.

Responsibilities in a New Role in Corporate Training

Daphne Gomez:
With the curriculum that you’re actually training, are you creating the curriculum from scratch? Or is it all ready, ready to go for you? And then you have autonomy about how you want to present it?

Brooke Ford:
So everything’s created already. And my manager when she asked me to do the new hire training, she’s like, “Yeah, you’re ready for this. I want you to take the presentation – I want you to put your spin on it. I want you to make it your own.” And at that point, I’d only been there for a few weeks. And I’m like, “Oh my gosh, she trusts me already to handle this presentation.”

But she lets you do walkthroughs with her, like run it through. How does it look? And I went through it with her. She’s like, “I love it. It’s great. You’re ready.” So you take things that are already created, and we’re just in the process of constantly improving things.

And mortgage stuff changes all the time, and you have to keep up to date with that. And it’s on this national level that we’re at with this team of nine trainers that we’re just responsible for making sure that the company’s staying up to date with everything that’s going on.

Experience & Skills that Contributed to Landing a New Role

Daphne Gomez:
Did you have to add any additional skills to your resume during that time that you were leaving teaching, when you were working as a loan originator? I know that you were adding skills, but specific to corporate training. Were you adding anything to your plate, taking any online courses besides the Teacher Career Coach Course or anything like that? Or did you just rewrite your resume and use the experience you already had?

Brooke Ford:
It was just making my resume sound more corporate and my loan origination experience. So I hadn’t been in loan origination very long. And by the time I was done with that job, I felt like my confidence had been crushed into the ground basically. And I honestly didn’t even know what I was good at with low origination.

But I was able to find some stuff online, examples of loan origination resumes. And that really helped me fill out that section of it because I was reading them like, “Oh, I did that. I did that.” And that was helpful to put in there. But had I not done that loan origination job, I would not have gotten this corporate training job.

Transition from Teaching: Not always a straight line to find the right fit

Daphne Gomez:
Yeah. A lot of times, there are stepping stones between point A and now you’re at point C. How do you feel now that you are in a corporate training position? And we’re not fortune tellers. If you ask me what I’m going to do in five years, who freaking knows? But do you feel like what you have truly found right now is a great fit for you?

Brooke Ford:
I definitely think so. I think the role of a corporate trainer, it’s similar enough to a teacher that I’m getting that validation and that feeling of importance that I didn’t have before. But I also have this increased work life balance that I really wanted.

When I’m done for the day, you’re done. You turn off your computer, you leave your office, and you pick up where you’re at the next day. And that’s definitely not something I was used to before, even with loan originating. You have to be on all the time. And landing in something like this where you truly get that time to yourself, almost like you don’t know what to do with it at first. But now I can’t imagine not having that.

Personality & Soft Skills for a Corporate Training Role

Daphne Gomez:
Did you always find yourself being somewhat of an extrovert where you didn’t mind being the center of attention or doing public speak when it came to even your teaching roles?

Brooke Ford:
That’s never something that’s bothered me. And I always thought I was more introverted. But then when I realized how much I needed to be around people and interact with people every day, that’s one of the first things my therapist said. She’s like, “Brooke, I hate to break this to you, but I think you’re extrovert.”

And I was blown away, but she was right. Definitely realized that I needed to be around people. Maybe I was just overly socialized when I was teaching. I definitely missed that as a loan originator. And I feel like this is a good balance between the two.

Future Growth Strategies

Daphne Gomez:
Do you ever look for other roles within your company as potential career growth strategies for you or directions that you may have in five years from now, 10 years from now?

Brooke Ford:
I haven’t yet. But I’m at a company that’s big enough that there are definitely other opportunities and places to grow and improve. I can still do loan origination in conjunction with the corporate training. I just want to get settled here a little bit first before I think about doing that, but it does give me the opportunity to bring in extra income as well.

Daphne Gomez:
Or are there other opportunities within the learning and development team or the human resources team that you may be working on, to continue to grow and even go in that direction?

Brooke Ford:
That’s something that I definitely could do. I know that recruiting, onboarding, and training all work really closely together. If I ever wanted to do something a little bit different. I’m just so happy with what I’m doing right now. I haven’t really thought of doing anything else.

Pressures when Transitioning from Teaching

Daphne Gomez:
I love that, and I love this path for you. I can tell that you are just so happy. And thank you so much for your transparency and for talking about some of the harder things that you brought up about your mental health struggles. And also, being open about finding a job that wasn’t a good fit for you.

Because so many people are terrified to even take the next step. Because they’re so scared that one, I look like a failure. To my friends and my family, if I said at one point I’m going into teaching and then I decide to change, that feels like failure number one. So there’s so much weird pressure that we put on ourselves, that the next thing better be freaking perfect. I need to prove to everyone I know what I’m doing.

But that’s such a weird competitive game with ourselves that we’re never going to win. You never know what life is going to throw at you. You only can just try. So thank you for coming on because there are so many people that I think are going to learn a lot from your experience.

Transformation after Transitioning from Teaching

Daphne Gomez:
I would love to know a little bit more about what your therapist says about your transformation and with this new position.

Brooke Ford:
She is amazed. And I am so thankful for my therapist. I tell everybody if someone has the time, and the finances, and the resources, that it’s life changing. But she does a lot of reflecting because I am someone whose mind goes a million miles an hour. And I don’t really ever stop to think, and turn off my brain, and really reflect on what’s going on.

So what I like that she does is she’s been through this whole thing with me. When I was at my lowest. Looking for jobs. Getting my interview. Accepting my job. Starting my job. Teaching for the first time. She’s seen it all. And every single time, she’s like, “I want you to think back to July when you felt helpless, and didn’t know where you were going to turn, and felt like you were just going to be miserable forever.” And she’s just like, “Look at you now. Look how far you’ve come in such a short amount of time.”

I definitely don’t credit just myself for doing this. My husband has been the biggest support through everything, just wanting me to be happy and find fulfillment in what I’m doing. He’s a former teacher, too. So when I saw him get out a few years ago, that’s what got my wheels turning a little. So he can relate to how I was feeling.

And then I have friends who are teachers or former teachers, and my family who have just been my biggest cheerleading squad throughout everything. And I think if you can just have people rally around you and really let that fear of embarrassment and failure go, and just accept the help, it’s a huge difference. It’s a game changer.

Finding Community that is also Transitioning from Teaching

Daphne Gomez:
Do you think finding this community also helped inspire you that you weren’t alone in this struggle?

Brooke Ford:
Yeah. Because I’m seeing what people are doing when they got out of teaching. And you kind of sit back and think, “I didn’t even know I was qualified to do something like that.”

Because you can get in a situation where you’re not built up very often. And you just feel like you’re doing just enough to be proficient. And you don’t know how well your skills transfer into tons of different areas. So that was cool to see things that I had never even thought of that you could do outside of the classroom.

Transitioning from Teacher to Project Manager

Daphne Gomez:
And you can’t leave us hanging like that. You can’t just throw out, “My husband’s a former teacher. What is his job?” Everyone’s probably so mad that I didn’t ask that immediately. What is your husband’s position?

Brooke Ford:
He’s a project manager. So he works for a construction company and specializes in, he does a lot of the big glass projects in Chicago. But kind of similar to me, he had an in into his company. But I know that project manager is something a lot of people can get into post teaching. And he definitely notices how easily all of that transferred over when he started that new job. And he’s so much happier to.

What did you learn in your transition from teaching?

Daphne Gomez:
Love that. I want to ask you one final question before we end our interview. And it’s something that I ask a lot of the former teachers. What did you learn about yourself personally along this entire journey?

Brooke Ford:
I learned a lot. But, I learned that I have a lot more value to me than I originally thought. I learned that prioritizing yourself, and your happiness, and your mental health is okay. I also learned the importance of having a support system behind you. And just being vulnerable and accepting help. And really realizing that internally, you are a lot stronger than you think you are. If you can make it through teaching, you can make it through anything else that life will throw at you.

Daphne Gomez:
Gosh, I couldn’t have said it better myself. And Brooke, honestly, looking at your face you are glowing. And I am just so grateful to be a part of your story, and grateful to connect with you, and hear this, and hear this transformation that you’ve gone through. Thank you so much for coming on and sharing. It’s just been a true pleasure.

Brooke Ford:
Thank you. And I’m really grateful for everything that you have put out to. I would not have even gotten the idea or the courage to get out of teaching had it not been for your course. So I’m really thankful for that.

Important Links

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