I’m Anna Graham Hunter, and I want to help you achieve career happiness.
Changing careers is a big step, and if you’re going to trust someone to take you through the process, you probably want to hear their story.
So here’s mine:
Several years back, I was cruising along in my career, thinking I was doing OK. I’d worked my way up in politics and had landed what I thought was a pretty good job – bigger salary, better title than before.
Only, it wasn’t a good job, and everyone but me seemed to know it. I didn’t like or respect my new boss, and he clearly didn’t like or respect me, but I thought that if I could convince myself everything was OK, then it would be. Who knows how long I might have lasted in that job if my unhappiness had stayed just quiet enough for me to pretend it wasn’t there.
Then one day my boss screamed at me so loud I felt like I’d been punched in the gut, and that was it. I quit. Without any job lined up, I gave my notice and was gone in two weeks.
And that’s when I felt REALLY lost. Because I didn’t have a CLUE what to do next.
But here’s the thing: I was lucky.
Why? Because quitting that awful job made me vow that I would never let it happen again.
Never again would I take a job based on salary and title without paying attention to whether it was a good fit.
Never again would I coast along and NOT have my eye on what I was going to do next.
From then on, my work path was different. It was intentional.
It’s not like I instantly had a five- or ten-year plan (I still don’t).
But I realized that instead of letting my career happen to me, I needed to design it and create it. I needed to treat my career as a fascinating project that I’d continue to refine for the rest of my life.
I thought about what I wanted to do and how I wanted to grow. I assessed the hell out of myself and got feedback from everyone who would give it to me. I learned how to articulate my strengths. I built and expanded a network of wonderful people who helped get me where I am today, which is a mighty happy place.
Eventually I combined all of this passion and curiosity for careers with coaching skills and became a Professional Certified Coach.
So the funny thing is, I’m grateful to that horrible boss of years ago. Because who knows what kinds of jobs I would have settled for if I hadn’t been shocked out of complacency?
For those of you who want to read on, below is a description of the long and twisting path that’s led me to where I am today. My wish for everyone is to find career happiness and fulfillment without taking QUITE so many random turns as I did.
Grew up in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Attended Stuyvesant High School. Senior year worked as an intern on two movies, including “Death of a Salesman.” Although deeply in love with John Malkovich, decided the movie business wasn’t for me.
After majoring in two dead languages at Smith College, decided to annoy my professors by announcing that I wanted to become a carpenter. Attended carpentry camp for women.
First year out of college successfully found a job as a carpenter’s apprentice in Boston that lasted a month. Proceeded to work at a library and a bakery until I found my first meaningful job as an advocate at a domestic violence shelter. When that didn’t work out, attended bartending school.
Eager to escape Boston, applied to Teach For America in its first year and was assigned to teach middle school in New Orleans. Attended night classes at University of New Orleans to earn MFA in creative writing.
Deciding to try my hand at freelance writing, found a job teaching business communications as adjunct professor at Tulane, which was 1,000 times easier than teaching middle school and left me with plenty of time and energy to write.
Wrote about stargazing, backgammon, and weddings for Martha Stewart Living. Wrote monthly “Dive Report” for local magazine in which I reviewed my favorite bars. Reviewed books and wrote travel stories for the Times-Picayune. Spent a week on an off-shore oil rig and wrote about it for Louisiana Life.
Moved home to New York in search of steadier writing assignments, which didn’t happen. Volunteered on a big political campaign and decided to stay in politics and government for a while. Managed policy and communications for local elected officials and candidates.
Quit job with awful boss, had epiphany (see story above).
After months of floundering, found wonderful job at domestic violence agency, where I lobbied elected officials, managed press, and oversaw strategic planning.
Returned to Teach For America as a staff member and managed the placement and certification of 500 incoming teachers.
Decided I wanted to learn more about how to help organizations function more effectively and earned MS in Organizational Change Management at The New School.
After graduation, found happiest salaried position of my life as leadership consultant and executive coach at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Earned Professional Certified Coach (PCC) from the International Coach Federation.
Moved to Los Angeles. Devoted myself to helping others achieve Career Happiness.