Taylor Haeffele thought being a dietitian was her dream role. Passionate about both psychology and health, this role would allow her to become an expert in nutrition and help people make positive changes in their lives. In Haeffele’s mind, it didn’t get any better than that.
So, after finishing her dietetic internship, she got a job as an RD in a hospital. For Haeffele this experience was inspiring and humbling. There was just one problem: She wasn’t happy.
“I just didn’t love nutrition,” she says. “I had peers who’d passionately tell me about the nutritional breakdown of their Thanksgiving dinner while I was perfectly content rocking a diet of ramen and mac ‘n’ cheese. I just couldn’t find the fervor for this stuff.”
But even though her gut told her this field wasn’t for her, she had trouble walking away. Not only had she put a ton of time and effort into it, but she was pretty good at it, too.
One day, as she was typing up a protein supplement plan, it hit her.
“No matter how much I learned, no matter how much I tried to take on more projects, I knew I’d never find that passion I’d been holding out for since college,” Haeffele explains. That same night, she started looking for new jobs.
She applied to everything, from tech to recruiting to insurance. During her search, she stumbled across the posting for her current job, and she was immediately intrigued. Though she’d worked as a receptionist and assistant at a residential real estate company throughout high school and college, it’d never dawned on her to explore real estate further.
“This posting helped me realized I was genuinely interested in the real estate world,” she says, “And, after falling in love with the vision of the company, I slowed down my job search and focused specifically on this position.”
She didn’t meet many of the qualifications for the real estate specialist role, but she applied anyway and got it. After a year and a half, Haeffele can confidently say she’s “incredibly happy” with her career change.
“I’m forever grateful that my company was willing to take a chance on a dietitian,” she says. “If they hadn’t, I might never have realized my potential as a professional.”
To learn more about Haeffele’s career story, including how she landed the job, keep reading.
What Does it Mean to Be a Real Estate Specialist?
I work alongside our company’s legal team to purchase medical office buildings and guide the process from contract to close. It’s my responsibility to ensure that our company complies with the terms of the purchase agreements, that the property aligns with our portfolio expectations, and that the rest of our acquisition team stays on top of deadlines.
Why Do You Think You Got a Job You Weren’t Qualified for?
What I learned in this process is that it’s not always about fitting the mold. Sometimes, it’s about fitting the team.
My supervisors have since told me there were two main reasons they took a chance and hired me: They appreciated that my lack of experience would give them the opportunity to teach me the necessary skills in a way that catered to our company, and they thought that I hit it off with the team from the start. That last part was more valuable to them than a solid set of technical skills.
Is There Anything From Your Experience as a Dietitian That’s Relevant to Your Current Role?
Absolutely! Both roles require the ability to switch mindsets at the drop of a hat. As an RD, I was often on my way to see one patient when a nurse would quickly need to speak to me about a different one, so I needed to have my knowledge of each patient’s case readily available. And as a real estate specialist, I’m always jumping from deal to deal, so I always need to be up-to-date on the details of every transaction.
In addition, a key skill I learned as an RD was working toward a common goal with a large team. In the hospital, I needed to constantly communicate and collaborate with the patient’s entire care team—nurses, physicians, therapists, you name it—to ensure our goals aligned and benefited the patient. This is similar in my current job, where I’m working with underwriters, accountants, property managers, and more to close a deal.
What Advice Do You Have for Fellow Career Changers?
Cater your resume to the specific job you want, narrowing in on how you’re able to make your personal experience work to fit their needs. Be yourself and be confident, on paper and in person. Because confidence in yourself and your abilities will sell you to an employer better than any work experience ever could.
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Photo of Taylor Haeffele courtesy of Taylor Haeffele.
Abby is a writer, career coach, and health educator living in Portland, Maine. When she’s not trying to make the world a happier and healthier place, you can find her cuddling with her cats, hunting down the city's best coffee and grilled cheese, or dipping her toes in the Atlantic. Say hi on Twitter .More from this Author