Kelsie Brunick—now a graduate advisor for Colorado State University-Global Campus and creator and host of the podcast Permission to Grow—worked hard and performed well in every job she had.
But she wasn’t happy. Most days, Brunick felt like she was just checking off boxes and that, if she kept doing what she was “supposed” to do, she’d eventually feel excited by her work. (Sound familiar to anyone? I’m raising my hand, over here.)
She kept trying new jobs to see if she could find a better fit. Program coordinator at a children’s nonprofit, attorney for a company that advocates for parents who can’t afford legal help, store director for a fashion startup. But she still wasn’t finding that career happiness she desired. So, in the fall of 2016, she left her job and started back at square one.
“When I kept hitting dead ends,” she says, “it hit me that the only person who could change things was me.” To figure out her next steps, Brunick meditated, wrote in her journal, and made lists of things she enjoyed.
“I told myself that title and salary were no longer my top measurements for what a ‘good job’ and success looked like,” Brunick explains. “I realized that what I wanted more was a work environment that provided me with both the flexibility to start my podcast and the opportunity to provide people with advice on how to achieve their goals. I get the most energy from listening to what’s important to people, supporting them through problem-solving, and connecting them to the necessary resources. The cool thing is, in my job as a graduate advisor, I get to do that a lot.”
Read on to learn more about Brunick’s career journey and the podcast that’s allowing her to grow.
What’s the Mission of Your Podcast? Any Advice From Your Guests That Sticks Out to You?
Permission to Grow explores women’s career stories and transitions. We talk through how we can give ourselves permission to grow into the individuals we are. My guests are kind, generous, and intelligent women of various backgrounds, and I’m filled with gratitude for each one of them.
The overarching lesson they’ve taught me is the absolute importance of tossing aside the “shoulds”—those arbitrary timelines and expectations our family, friends, self, and society set for us—and the need for us all to take charge of our professional journey. My hope is that we can channel that energy into areas we’re skilled in or enjoy instead of continuing down a path that’s simply, well, tolerable.
What Was the Hardest Part About Leaving Your Job to Start Over? How’d You Overcome It?
I think the hardest part of each career transition I’ve made is the initial bout of negative thoughts, the fear of the unknown, and spending time worrying about what others would think. For me, a large fear was always, “Will future employers understand my story?”
It took time for me to realize that changing careers isn’t me saying, “I’ll never work in law again” (for example). Instead, it’s saying I’m interested in a role that looks like this, that plays to these skills I’ve developed, and for me, that can exist in a variety of fields. I spent way too much time over-analyzing and eventually began to understand that this decision I was making—to quit my job without another lined up—was for now, not for life.
What’s Your Favorite Piece of Career Advice?
I was always starving for someone to tell me that I hadn’t missed the train for creating a career I enjoyed and that I was going to be OK even though I hadn’t figured out my path yet.
I found a quote that helped me through that. It’s based on something F. Scott Fitzgerald said, and it’s this idea that it’s never too late to be whoever you want to be. For my brain, quotes have a way of putting my panic at ease. They remind me that others have experienced similar situations and grown from them, and they serve as a general reminder that it’s all going to be just fine.