‘How I stumbled into my dream career’

Dream job

Some people have known since they were young what they wanted to do for work. Others took a less-direct route to get to their dream career path.

Some people have known since they were young what they wanted to do for work. Others took a less-direct route to get to their dream career path. Such is the case for the following five individuals, who by some unexpected turn of events, discovered what they were truly passionate about and found a way to make a living from it.

From doctor to teacher

“I liked science and I always knew I liked helping people. So, I always thought I'd follow in the footsteps of my family members and become a doctor. However, in high school, my guidance counselor suggested that I work with a few underclassman who were struggling. I begrudgingly starting tutoring. However, once I got started, I loved working with my students. I found it so exciting to see their learning and progress. I went off to college and continued tutoring all while preparing for medical school. Then, in my junior year, I had this ‘aha’ moment and realized that I wanted to continue working one-on-one with students. I also wanted to teach others how to teach teens. I started writing a curriculum and teaching methodology, spent a summer putting together a website with my dad's help, and then the next year knocking on a lot of school doors. By the end of 2003, I had the beginnings of Thinking Caps. Eleven years later I'm still at it, and Thinking Caps has expanded beyond my wildest dreams.” -- Alexandra Mayzler, founder of Thinking Caps Group

Shaping up to be an online marketer

“I was working as a personal trainer and business wasn't going so well. I was determined to learn new ways to do self-promotion and gain new clients. During this process, I stumbled upon the world of online marketing. I learned how to successfully place my PT website at the top of the major search engines for various search terms. Once I had success, others approached me to help with their websites and online presence. This addiction of placing websites at the top of the search engines led me to create my own online marketing company where, thankfully, I currently have a well-sized client list. I love my job as an internet marketer and the freedom that comes with it; even though I still do some part-time personal training.” -- Jason Berkowitz, head of operations, SEO Services New York

Recruited to be a recruiter

"When I first met with a recruiter, I was looking for a new position for myself, and he ended up talking to me about becoming a recruiter. It had never been on my radar before, but the salary possibilities and networking opportunities recruiting offered were too tempting to pass up. In my second year in the industry, I was already the No. 2 recruiter in the firm and making more than double what I made at my last position. A stroke of luck put me in contact with the right person to introduce me to a whole new industry, which ended up being my passion." -- Tony Sorensen, CEO, Versique Search & Consulting

Healthy change

“My mom was diagnosed with diabetes. She immediately took steps to change her diet. Because I was young and still living at home, I made the changes right along with her. I started learning about the connection between food and illness and health. I learned that illnesses that were common were also preventable … Over the years, I became the one [my friends] asked about what's healthy and what they should or shouldn't be eating, or what they should do to manage their weight better. It became second nature. Then one day, my friend says to me, ‘You ever thought about doing this for a living?’ And that was the light bulb that powered everything after. Now here I am, helping people nationwide become healthier and I love it.” -- Natalie Thomas-Oliveira, certified nutrition and wellness consultant, Good Changes Health and Wellness Consulting

Winning at the go-getter game

“I stumbled into my ‘dream career’ after I invented a board game as a Father's Day gift. I wanted to give my husband a creative gift. He's a lawyer, so I created a board game that he could play with our kids that taught them what he did when he left the house each day. The feedback from others was overwhelmingly positive, so I started to mass-produce the game. Now it's being sold coast-to-coast. I work full-time for the company I created – Professional Games, Inc.” -- Tina Nelson, CEO, Professional Games, Inc.