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An Entrepreneur’s Journey and Return to Corporate America

Middle-aged female entrepreneur who has returned to corporate America, smiling at the camera over her shoulder

As a successful career changer, over the course of 10 years, Laura Neff worked her way up at a Fortune 500 bank from administrative assistant to a communications VP. From there she spent 6 years as an entrepreneur before establishing a successful executive coaching practice.

After 16 years as a business owner, Neff made the decision to test the job search waters and return in some capacity to Corporate America.

Today, Neff is an Organizational Transformation and Leadership Development coach with a consulting firm that empowers leaders to envision a future and then achieve it.  Laura and I got the opportunity to sit and chat about her journey.

What Prompted Your Career Pivot?

“I did a lot of self-reflection,” Neff recalls. “While I loved so much of my previous roles, I had to be honest about the challenges.” She discovered the idea of a steady paycheck appealed to her, and that she missed the sense of teamwork that comes from working with smart people to solve problems collectively.

“Life is good!” she remembers thinking. “But what can I do with this odd bag of tricks to address these other challenges?”

What Steps Did You Take to Make the Change?

Neff’s journey began by getting her ducks in a row, so to speak. She worked with a professional writer to get her resume and LinkedIn ready to go. She then got online to “get my brain in the game” to see who was hiring, and where I could start sending things out.

The third prong that she advises people not to skip was getting out in the community to meet people in the space she was targeting. She wound up going to a monthly meeting at a group where she had belonged years ago.

“I discovered I lit up listening to the speaker at the meeting,” Neff recalls. They wound up having coffee, and he offered me the opportunity to consider consulting. This happened on many occasions.

Also read: How to Adapt Your Resume for a Career Change

What Were Your Biggest Job Search Challenges?

“I had to work hard to stay on the path where I saw and felt the light,” Neff remembers, “and to convince myself not to stray. While following a more traditional path may have gotten her a job, she says it would not have lit her up.

Her Job Search Routine

Neff focused on continuing to have conversations with anyone willing to listen. “This kept me accountable,” she says, “because I knew they would ask.”

This led to other conversations that led to opportunities. “I wound up having breakfast with a friend that on paper didn’t seem to be able to offer me anything,” she says. “She’s the one who told me about the company where I now work!”

Also read: Don’t Give Up On Your Career Change: The Tools You Need to Keep Moving

Biggest Surprise

“I went into my job search with an either/or mentality,” Neff explains. “I either thought I had to be an entrepreneur or be in a traditional 9-to-5 role.” By following the light, however, she discovered there was a middle place – an ideal hybrid.

“It might sound a bit ‘woo woo’,” Neff laughs, “but whatever you are doing in the process, keep an eye on how you feel or how your actions make you feel.” You never know when it may lead to your serendipitous encounter.

What’s Next?

I’ve experienced a lot of change in the past 10 years. It is sort of a radical move for me, but I am excited to stay put and continue the journey from where I am!

About the Author

Virginia Franco, NCRW, CPRW is the founder of Virginia Franco Resumes which offers customized executive resume and LinkedIn profile writing services for the 21st century job seeker.