From Being My Own Boss to Taking Orders From One

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Starting my job at Serendipity wasn’t a dream come true. (Sorry, Kasie!) I had already lived much of my professional life, went through some tough life situations, and found myself in need of a job to help make ends meet for our family. The job kind of fell into my lap at the right time–sounds a little serendipitous, right?

My professional life was kicked off as a budding accounting major who graduated with highest honors only to quit her dream job at a CPA firm within the first month. Why, you ask? Well, I had enough foresight to see that a part-time working mom in that industry meant forty hours a week and that wasn’t going to work for my husband and I. I took a job in marketing research and entered motherhood just over a year later. Add three more children in four years, a job change, and starting my own photography business to the resume, and you are caught up to where I was when I took the job at Serendipity.

My photography career started after my fourth baby was born in 2004 and it literally took over my life, some of it not under my control and some of it definitely under my control. As a believer in God, I knew he was starting to teach me how backward I was handling things but I wasn’t ready to listen. I guess I learn best from the hard knocks and that’s what he gave me. Through some personal difficulties, God showed me what mattered most in life. It took me months to let go of my photography career, but I’ve never looked back. Literally.

That’s not to say it wasn’t a tough transition from being my own boss to working for a company again. It was. I had to add a little humility and humor to get to where I am today. I can honestly now say that Serendipity has become a dream come true.

If you find yourself needing to transition from being self-employed to corporate America, here are some thoughts from my experience:

  • The Money. I had to eat humble pie when I took a job in the real world from my photography business. However, not having the pressure of constantly looking for business, re-inventing myself, and holding my breath for the next deposit is compensation enough.
  • The Clock. Yes, I had to make sure I was in the office on time and tell someone when I was leaving for lunch. However, when I hit the clock at the end of the day, I was done. No work hanging over my head when I was trying to cuddle with my kids or connect with my husband.
  • The Environment. I was used to making my own calls regarding business and professional development. If I wanted to try something new for marketing, I just did it. Now I had to consult people. However, I soon realized that I had missed working in a team environment. You miss out on collaboration, synergy, and stretching yourself and your ideas.
  • The Clothing. Ahhhh, yes this was a transition for me. I was used to editing photos in slippers and sweatpants, taking photos in flip flops and shorts. And I was definitely not used to having my clothing complimented or noticed by other people. Honestly, I’m still getting used to this. I’m not a hip person. I don’t love shoes. And I really hate shopping. I would still rather be in my yoga pants and slippers!
  • The Fit. When you work for yourself, you create your own job description. You own it. You do it. When you work for someone else, you have to fit their expectations and their needs. This was probably the biggest struggle for me. As a multi-faceted person, it was a difficult to transition to working singularly focused. I wanted to get my hands in so much and so quickly. I had to learn to sit back and take it all in. I have found that through this it pushes you to improve yourself, to stand up for yourself, and to sometimes ask the tough questions.

StephanieWritten by: Stephanie TeSlaa works in HR for West Michigan Woman magazine's publishing company, Serendipity Media. She excels at using both the right and left sides of her brain, and that’s exactly what makes her so special. Stephanie calls Hudsonville home and is a lover of numbers and also a talented photographer.

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