If Your Dream Job Does Not Exist, Create it!

Natasha is a PhD in Psychology-Health Psychology student and fitness advocate.  She shares how she took proactive steps to land a dream job at a local fitness studio.

Create it

After eight years of active duty service in the U.S. Army, I decided to go back to my true passion: helping people get and stay fit.  I started working as a personal trainer; first in a gym, then on my own. I also decided to pursue my Ph.D. in Psychology-Health Psychology at Walden, with the end goal of researching the long-term benefits of dance-based fitness. In 2016, the stars aligned just so, and I was able to open my own, gorgeous studio in Downtown Fayetteville, NC. After many years of developing my teaching methods, I finally had an outlet to put it all together and serve clients in the ideal fitness environment. Business was going well, the studio was getting noticed, and I was slowly building a loyal following.

Then, in the fall of 2017, the unexpected happened.  My husband, who is still an active duty soldier, came home with permanent change-of-station orders. We packed up and relocated, and I tried my best to keep the studio going from a distance.  After a few months, it became clear that things were not working in my absence.

I decided to close my studio doors in July 2018. This decision was heart-wrenching; it felt like giving up on my lifelong dream. Plus, for the first time in my life, I found myself without my own income.  After letting myself grieve the loss of my business, I decided that my dream did not need to die; it just needed to change direction. I found a studio in my new town that had a very similar vibe to the one I had created, and I decided to try some of their classes, which eventually led to a new managerial position and an opportunity to join a team that shares my goals and passion!

The job I accepted was never posted on job boards. In fact, it did not even exist.

Here is what I did to create my dream job and receive an offer:

  • I embraced change: As much as I loved having my own studio, my circumstances required me to shift my goals and perspective. Instead of accepting the setback, I searched for ways to use what I learned in a new setting.
  • I was clear on what I wanted: I had created a special atmosphere and community for my brand of fitness. I wanted to continue along that path. A few Google searches showed me what companies aligned with my unique skill set and philosophy in the new town. I picked the company I liked the most.
  • I created a relationship: Once I found the company that felt most like home, I became a customer and studied the culture. After attending classes for a few weeks, I introduced myself to the owner and told her a bit about me. Through our conversations, I learned that she was in the process of opening a new location and was about to start looking for new people.
  • I made it easy for them to know me: As a former business owner, I understood how busy the life of an owner could be. I made it easy for the owner to learn as much as possible about me without wasting her time. I created an attractive and to-the-point PowerPoint presentation, and offered to email it to her, along with my CV.   In the email, I wrote that if she liked what I had to offer, she could schedule a meeting with me. I received a meeting request that same week!
  • I demonstrated that I was accountable: I responded to communications promptly and concisely. When meeting in person, I brought notes and asked insightful questions.
  • I solved problems: Originally, I just wanted an opportunity to teach my class modalities, but as I saw how compatible my mission was with the CEO’s, I made it a point to show her how I could solve some of the problems she currently faced. Because of my input, she created a position specifically for me, where I will be working as part of the managerial staff. I will also have the chance to teach my classes, get training on other methods, and pursue my academic research in areas of health psychology and fitness.
  • I was open to learning: Once we have achieved a certain level of experience, we can sometimes fail to see that there is still a lot we can learn from others. Remaining curious and engaged to new ideas proved to be an asset for me when making a shift into new directions.

As I embark on the rest of my doctoral journey, I am happy to have enjoyable work with room to grow, that will provide income and a flexible schedule to accommodate my studies. I found a new career opportunity because I looked outside the box and had the courage to move forward.

Written by PhD in Psychology- Health Psychology Student, Natasha Connell

Edited by Associate Director of Career Services, Dina Bergren

Webinar setup photo Dina

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