These 3 Women Boldly Quit Their Jobs & Changed Careers

It's never too late to switch careers.




Do you feel it when you clock into work everyday? When those two things can't be found in the work we do, we reevaluate whether we have chosen the right career paths for ourselves. Some of us get to the point where we fall out of love with our careers or we discover that want we wanted to do for the rest of our lives isn't the right fit for us. We start to panic wondering if it's too late to start all over again or if it is even worth it?

It's never too late to switch careers. Many women are switching careers and embarking on new paths to fulfill their passions, accommodate their lifestyle and to live in their own truths. Discover how three women were able to make drastic changes to their career and lifestyle in order to align their career goals with their purpose.

Despite the skepticism their family and friends may have, these women are betting on themselves.

"My Passion Made Me Leave Corporate America."

Wanting to impact change in the world and equip children with STEM skills and opportunity enticed Kelley O. Williams to switch careers. Kelley, her sister Jessica and her mother Rachel joined forces to create their family business, Paige & Paxton, which offers children's books, elementary curriculum and professional development focused around STEM. Before becoming an entrepreneur, Kelley was the Assistant Vice President of Social Media at J.P. Morgan Chase and oversaw the social content strategy Chase Community Giving, the largest social property at the firm with 3.7 million followers across all platforms. She decided to switch her career as she saw the Paige & Paxton brand grow including the recent contract to work with the Chicago School System.

“I did not take the same precautions I would advise people who are preparing to make the switch from a full time gig to entrepreneurship. I had a significant amount of money saved, good credit, and the ability to live rent-free while I transitioned over to full time entrepreneurship. I actually did not prep and plan to change careers. It felt like the right moment to act, and I was emotionally and mentally prepared, so I did it," Kelley shares.

She let the negativity roll off her back when some of the people close to her did not agree with her decision. “I never took it too personally, because I know that my family and friends mean well, and the nervous and negative reactions just served as a source of motivation for me," Kelley shared.

What helps her shake the negativity away is knowing and understanding her purpose. “A child interested in baseball will make their parents send him to baseball camp. A child who wants to be a ballerina will finagle dance lessons. I know that parents and educators will be more open to committing the resources to children who demonstrate an interest in learning STEM concepts. Whether your parent is an engineer in Silicon Valley or not, I want to ensure that all children understand the breadth of opportunities available to them when someone asks the question 'What do you want to be when you grow up?'" Kelley shared.

Since leaving J.P. Morgan Chase, Kelley had to figure out how to gain credibility for her expertise without having a big name to back her. “When you have a corporate title and brand behind your name, it's really easy for people to gauge who you are. You don't need to prove your credibility as much. I had to rework my identity for the first time in a long time, but now I love what I do and what I stand for so much more," she says.

"I had to rework my identity for the first time in a long time."

In addition to building the brand she experience typically start-up woes. “Like most startups, the biggest challenge has been timely access to capital. It's something that we have to manage constantly so that we can continue to grow the business. Another challenge is balancing marketing and sales with product, content development and production," Kelley adds. Her advice for making that switch to becoming an entrepreneur is to seek advice, but stays true to your purpose. “Always seek the advice of good counsel, because every time you open the door to what you are going through you will find better solutions and feel less alone in the entrepreneurial journey. However, you should also trust your instinct. You know your business and customer better than anyone else," Kelley says.

"My Circumstances Changed My Career Path."

That moment when you make the decision to switch careers can be affected by circumstances, like it did with Ka'Lyn Banks. The 25-year-old thought that her passion was in education. After graduation, she became a preschool teacher at charter school in Washington, D.C. "I was let go from the school for being too vocal about the lack of education and diversity amongst other things and that is when I realized I don't belong in a classroom with small children. I still love to teach, but I know that I need to work with adults," Ka'Lyn said.

Discovering that she desired a platform where she could discuss and advocate on issues of her choice, she decided to pursue a career in digital media as a consultant. After becoming unemployed, Ka'Lyn struggled with the decision to switch careers. “I had been dealing with depression and had to start therapy. Unemployment amongst other things can take a toll on the mind. I found myself often times blaming myself for losing my job and being forced [somewhat] to switch careers," Ka'Lyn said.

Not everyone will be in support of your desire to switch careers. Sometimes people won't understand your desire to make a change. Switching careers can be a difficult decision, especially when it affects your income and changes your lifestyle.

"Not everyone is going to understand your decision to change careers"

Ka'Lyn fiancé's support and assistance with bills as well as the encouragement from friends, kept her from falling apart. Not everyone is going to understand your decision to change careers. Especially, when you set off to become an entrepreneur. “[My parents] are still not 100% sure if they understand why I am not working a traditional 9-5 job with health benefits and a corner office," Ka'Lyn said.

Although her switch was difficult Ka'Lyn learned some valuable lessons. “My advice is to protect your energy because people will drain you dry with their comments, opinions, unsolicited advice and negativity. Also, save money before you make the switch. I don't have a special dollar amount but even having an extra $20 dollars will help on the day you need something," Ka'Lyn shared.

"I Wanted To Walk My Own Path & Not My Parents'."

Bianca (left)

Some of us have family members who create our career paths from birth. They've prepped and molded us to become one thing, but your heart wants to do another. That's what happened to Bianca Jeanty when she switched her career course from pre-med to advertising. “In school I was studying behavioral sciences and I thought I would move forward by going into medical school or something in the health field. My family is from the Caribbean. They are Haitian and they were like are you going to be a doctor, lawyer or engineer? What are you going to be?" Bianca said.

She returned to college after a sabbatical from school to finish up her senior year, Bianca knew she did not want to pursue a career in the health industry. Per the advice from her mentors and peers, she completed her behavioral science degree, but she knew she had a long road ahead to break into the media world. “I made it my business to find the resources that I needed to get where I am today. I talked to the right people so that I could understand the industry and be able to use the language to talk up what I want to do," Bianca says. After taking on a variety of paid and volunteer opportunities to gain the experience and skills that she would need to break into the media world, she finally was offered a job in advertising. Now Bianca is working in the field that she tenaciously pursued and paying it forward as the Co-Founder of Minorities in Media digital hub.

“Bet on yourself! That's my advice. I loved the jobs that I had prior to this one, but no one was going to get me the advertising role that I wanted except for me. You can do so much more than you think you can," Bianca says.

"You can do so much more than you think you can."

No matter the circumstances that may lead you to consider switching careers, the decision is only yours to choose.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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