Cool Jobs: How 4 Women Found Better Careers

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Switching careers can be a major challenge, but for those stuck in a job they hate, it's well worth the effort. Meet four ladies willing to reinvent themselves for the chance to land the perfect job. Persistence and sacrifice paid off for these women, finally finding happiness at work.


1. Sales Trader turned Production Assistant

Lindsey Boyd never planned on becoming a sales trader. Like many other women, she'd moved to New York to become an actress.

She worked in a restaurant and auditioned for jobs, eventually taking temp work to pay the bills. A temp position at a sales and trading company turned full-time when an executive assistant went on maternity leave. But that woman never came back. Without realizing it, Boyd had worked her way up to a six-figure sales trader job. Acting was no longer in her future.

A move across the country to San Francisco continued her sales trading career.

"That's when I realized this wasn't for me," she said.

Boyd eventually resigned, vowing to follow her heart.

She was sure sales trading wasn't her best fit, but also realized she'd rather not be in front of the camera.

"I'd been writing my own scripts all that time," she said.

So Boyd broke into the business the only way she could, working as a production assistant on movies and TV shows. She used all of her connections to get her first job on the movie Indiana Jones. Her goal is to make a living writing scripts.

Boyd is able to pass along her scripts to writers she works with, getting necessary feedback.

"It's about being in the right place at the right time," she said.

ollowing her dreams has hurt her salary, now a third of a sales traders pay.

"I didn't feel any richer before. I see light at the end of the tunnel," she said.

Television production, median annual salary: $44,813


2. Morning News Producer turned PR Account Exec

Sometimes lifestyle is more important than the job. Just ask Morgan Shelton. She liked working as a morning producer for a TV news station in Michigan.

She had always loved writing and being in control of the show. But her career defined her life.

"I was off whenever anyone else was working," she said.

So Shelton used her time off to research a new career. She knew that public relations would be an easy transition, but her journalism professors never touched on the subject, calling it the "dark side."

It turns out PR was a perfect fit. She found a mentor through contacts from graduate school. That mentor eventually offered her a job in Milwaukee.

"It's the best thing I could have done," she said. "PR is always a challenge. That's what I needed."

Account executive, public relations, median annual salary: $49,150


3. Middle School Teacher turned Text Book Saleswoman

Like Shelton, Molly Bossu enjoyed her former career. She was once a middle school math and science teacher in Virginia.

"I liked the kids," she said. "I went out of my way to make sure that there were fun activities while they learned."

But she wasn't prepared for some of the additional stresses that come with being a teacher. Standardized tests, pushy parents and a low pay scale topped her list of pet peeves.

"I found myself complaining all the time," she said. "I didn't want to spend my entire career complaining.

So Bossu started brainstorming ideas. Her brothers and her father worked in sales and she knew the job would come naturally. She also wanted to keep her hand in education.

A job as a textbook saleswoman was a natural switch.

"They require you have teaching experience. You can relate to teachers and they appreciate that. It makes sense," she said.

But the new career took a lot of persistence. There were no openings in Virginia, forcing her to take the first open position at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in St. Louis.

"I love it. I have a lot of perks and I'm still dealing with education," she said.

Bossu was eventually transferred back to Virginia.

"It's a great job. You have to be willing to make some sacrifices. But it all works out," she said.

Sales representative, wholesale, median annual salary: $48,437


4. Magazine Editor turned Nonprofit Volunteer Coordinator

Lisa Doyle made a quick climb up the career ladder. In the five years after college she went from magazine intern to managing editor.

Doyle enjoyed her job at a beauty trade magazine. But the hour commute got to her and she eventually started looking for positions at other magazines.

A managing editor job opened at a business magazine and she was quickly hired.

"It was not a good fit for me at all," she said.

The content didn't suit her and she found herself stressed out.

She knew she had to get out of the job, and started thinking about other options

She'd been a volunteer for years, loving the hours she spent working for the clothing donation program at People's Resource Center in Dupage County, Illinois. She saw a volunteer coordinator opening and decided to apply.

"I was surprised at how many of the same skills could transfer to this job," she said.

Doyle said her boss knew she was the right fit during the interview, asking her if she was a doer or a leader.

She says she's a doer, the kind of person who makes sure everything gets done.

It was the perfect answer, proving she'd be just right for the job.

Doyle said she doesn't miss work in magazines.

"It's a totally different focus. It's all about helping people."

Program coordinator, nonprofit, median annual salary: $41,135


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Source: All salary data is from PayScale.com. The salaries listed are median, annual salaries for full-time workers with 5-8 years of experience and include any bonuses, commissions or profit sharing.

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