Luckily for her, one of the men she interviewed thought she had what it took to be a successful venture capitalist. He offered to bring her into his venture firm as a part-time contractor to try it out. Today, Patricia is a partner at Trinity Ventures, the very firm that took a risk on her. She credits much of her success to having bosses who were in it for the long haul. They gave her the flexibility she needed while her children were young, and then she rewarded them by being one of their top investors.
“I couldn’t have moved to a new industry with young children and also ease my way back into full-time work without true allies who were committed to my long-term success,” Patricia told me.
For interior designer Kriste Michelini it was her friends who empowered her to find her second career.31 Before her pause, Kriste worked in software sales for technology company Intuit. She told me she enjoyed her job, had the flexibility she needed as a mother, and was making very good money, but a painful divorce caused her to reevaluate her choices. When Kriste remarried, she decided to devote herself to her new family. When she wasn’t focused on her children, she spent her free time decorating the family’s home and playing tennis. In other words, she looked like the classic “opt-out” mom. But Kriste knew she wanted to be back in the work world. She just didn’t know how that would take shape.
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“I knew I didn’t want to go back into software sales, but I wasn’t sure what my next career should be so I turned to my closest friends and asked them what I should do. To a woman, they encouraged me to pursue interior design. In fact, one even hired me to redo her house. That was the gift that allowed me to pivot careers,” Kriste said.
Today, Kriste is a sought-after interior designer whose award-winning work can be found in the homes of some of the most discerning clients in and around the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2014 she was named one of Traditional Home magazine’s “Top 10 Decorators to Watch.” Her full-time staff of three can barely keep up with the demand for her talents.
Kriste told me, “I would never have been where I am today if I hadn’t paused my career. I finally found my passion and now I have the career of my dreams and I am exactly the kind of mother I always wanted to be.”
Moving to a completely different career can be challenging even if you haven’t stepped back from the workforce. But for those who have paused, pivoting can be especially challenging. Often it means you have no network to assist you as you try to relaunch. With no one to turn to for guidance and advice and a much-needed introduction, breaking into your dream profession can feel like a near impossibility.
As a result, many Pivoters return to school to get new skills and, importantly, build new contacts. When I decided I wanted to pursue my dream of writing, I enrolled in an MFA program at Mills College. I loved being amongst a vibrant community of younger students, and I met my mentor, Professor Sarah Pollock. Her support and guidance gave me the confidence to believe that I, a forty-six-year-old mother of three, could pivot to become a journalist and writer.
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