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How I Turned a Hobby into a Career

Rachel Serwetz
Rachel Serwetz
June 25, 2019
How I Turned a Hobby into a Career

It’s true — I turned my hobby into a full-time career by consistently leaning into my interests. Initially, I had no idea where these interests would lead me, but I knew I enjoyed them. The career path I have forged over the past six years has left me tremendously confident and excited for what lies ahead.

Here’s how I did it:

As a Human Development major at Binghamton, the School of Management’s career office told me quite simply, “We cannot help you.” This motivated me to teach myself about job searching, networking, interviewing, and how to break into the business world. I reached out to 100 Binghamton alumni and chatted with 50 of them, gaining as much insight as possible. At the time, I was focused on the world of consulting, and almost didn’t realize the byproduct of what I was doing- I was learning about consulting, networking, and how to be a professional all at once.

Furthermore, concentrating on effective job searching techniques for seven months landed me a job at Goldman Sachs. In the four to five years that followed, I ended up being referred to over 100 young adults to help them with their resumes, interviews, as well as their own job-searching journey. In fact, these conversations led me to create a process and a written assessment to help someone answer the question, “How do I figure out what job I even want?” This is where WOKEN was born, as I visualized a way to help build scalable tools so that every professional could solve that very question.

I dove deeper into this arena by volunteering at a non-profit for two years, while maintaining my day-job. This experience allowed me to act as a career coach and help professionals break into their ideal career. I was immersed into this world before ever thinking I would become a certified coach — I simply enjoyed doing it.

Meanwhile, my job in Operations Cash Management at a bank was completely irrelevant to my actual interests. Still, I found other ways to break into Human Resources-like projects. To be honest, I wasn’t even aware these tasks were HR related, but I knew I loved fixing problems that surrounded talent/skills development, recruiting, and social impact.

It became clear that I should move into a full-time HR role. Luckily through my leadership on previous HR related projects, I was able to make that initial transition seamlessly. But, once I felt that role coming to an end, I had trouble figuring out what I wanted to do next, and struggled with this for five long months.

I ended up leveraging the help from coaches to learn where they received their training, eventually deciding to go after this similar training myself. I achieved an Advanced Diploma from NYU in Coaching, which included four part-time courses. The program allowed me to start thinking about how to become a traditional career coach, essentially leading to the start of my own business. I began to truly formalize my process of helping others, and wrote all my advice down into what would become a 200-page book. Again, I didn’t know where the Diploma program would lead, but it helped me lean closer into my interests, gain a deeper understanding of a process that I enjoyed, and led me to have several new ideas and innovations in the next few months.

What developed

However, I quickly learned that traditional career coaching wasn’t scalable, even though I was saying the same thing to so many individuals. Luckily, I crossed paths with a UX designer who asked, “Do you know anyone who needs a prototype?” I didn’t know what a prototype was but I knew I needed a way to scale my value to others, so I immediately said, “Me!”

Ever since, I’ve been building a web platform focused on career exploration to help professionals figure out what job they’ll love. Now, we are working on growing that platform into a comprehensive personal career portal. Looking back, the coaching diploma taught me the psychology behind coaching and gave me the power to leverage this understanding through the use of technology.

To me, entrepreneurship should be born organically out of noticing patterns and solving others’ problems. However, any career path can be paved the same exact way. The point is: Dive head first into things you love, even if you don’t immediately know how it will benefit you. Because you may not immediately know the benefit, it allows you to discover it. It will require you to trust in the fact that your interests, affinities, capabilities and passions will take you to new heights, expanding your potential and your opportunities. Though you may have a current career plan in your mind, by diving into new experiences you simply enjoy, it’s likely you will realize an outcome beyond what you could have ever imagined.

How I Turned a Hobby into a Career

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Rachel Serwetz’ early professional experience was at Goldman Sachs in Operations and at Bridgewater Associates in HR. From there, she was trained as a coach at NYU and became a certified coach through the International Coach Federation. After this, she worked in HR Research at Aon Hewitt and attained her Technology MBA at NYU Stern. Throughout her career, she has helped hundreds of professionals with career exploration and for the past 4.5+ years she has been building her company, WOKEN, which is an online career exploration platform to coach professionals through the process of clarifying their ideal job and career path. She is also an Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at Binghamton University and has served as a Career Coach through the Flatiron School, Columbia University, WeWork, and Project Activate.

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