Why I’m Changing Careers

BIG NEWS ALERT!

If you follow me on social then you probably already know, but if not, let me update you.

I was recently accepted into University of Central Florida’s masters program for Speech Language Pathology. I still have goosebumps as I write that sentence. This is something that I’ve been keeping under wraps for the past few years and I’m so glad that I can finally shout it from the rooftops.

This was not an over night decision. No, no, no…this is something that I’ve worked SO hard for. Tears were shed, doubts were made, life crisis’ were had…but I’m finally here.

But why the change? How did I get here? Well, let’s start at the beginning.

I was a Communications major at Eckerd College and it wasn’t until my senior year that I realized I wanted to go into marketing. I got an internship in the marketing department at a local resort and I loved it. They did all of their own advertising, promotions, public relations, commercial filming, etc. I enjoyed the people I worked with and the work was creative and fun. I also loved the field of hospitality and being a part of creating a memorable experience. As graduation neared the resort hired me on full time and I was psyched to have a job right out of school at a place I loved. 

Fast forward a few years later and our resort was hosting the National Autism Association’s Conference and our resort put a plan in place to become autism friendly. As Marketing Coordinator I spear headed our autism friendly program and what it would entail. I worked with various departments to create safety kits, quiet zones, autism friendly kid’s activities, etc. In doing so I ended up learning a lot about autism and how it effected families’ every day lives. It lit something in me that I can’t really describe. I started to feel a strong passion towards the autism community and wanting to help them in any way that I could.

I have always had a passion for wanting to help people. One of my favorite things to do is volunteer. I started realizing that this was the path I wanted for my career, and not just something I did in my free time. I wanted my life to be dedicated to bettering people’s lives. And I specifically wanted to help children with autism and other developmental disabilities. 

Around this time one of my best friends was in school for speech pathology and she encouraged me to look into it. I’ve never really thought of myself as someone who would go into a health related field, but I did the research. I also met with a few speech pathologists to get insight into their day to day lives. And they all had one thing in common: passion. They truly love what they do and wouldn’t give it up for anything. This sealed the deal for me and made me realize this was the path I was meant to take.

Did this mean I no longer loved marketing? Absolutely not. I believe you can have multiple loves and passions in your life. But it’s a choice on which one you decide on making your full time job. I’ve loved all of the marketing jobs I’ve had. However, I realized I wasn’t interested in going to the next level a.k.a. becoming a Marketing Director or a VP of Marketing.  I’m a person who is always looking forward to the next step and searching for ways I can grow and learn. Not wanting to move beyond my position put me at a dead end. Stability was also a key decision factor. Unfortunately, I’ve experienced much instability in my marketing career thus far. Being in the health field meant more stability and a job for life. 

I was very lucky that I had a friend who was a few steps ahead of me and was able to help guide me on what my next steps would be.  If you want to be a Speech Language Pathologist you need a masters degree…there’s no way around it. But first you need to take a whole bunch of pre-requisite classes. Which basically means a second bachelor’s degree if you don’t already have a BS in Communication Sciences and Disorders. I did University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee’s post-baccalaureate program, which was online. I enrolled in the program part time while I worked full time and it took 2 years to finish. If you do full time you can finish in 1 year. 

Once that was done it was time for the dreaded GRE. I am in no way a good standardized test taker (but how many people really are?) I studied for the GRE on my own and took it twice before I first applied to graduate programs. 

Unfortunately, I did not get into a program the first time I applied. Speech Language Pathology programs are highly competitive. Most programs get over 500 applications, and out of those applications they only have 20-30 spots to fill. 

I was heartbroken after not getting into a program and it caused me to re-look at my life and my career. Did I really want to do this? Would I be able to do this? I went back and forth on whether or not I wanted to re-apply. Was it worth it? The answer was YES. This was something I had worked too hard towards to just give up so easily. 

I took a GRE prep course and got a private tutor. I took the GRE 2 more times and raised my scores significantly. I acquired an extra letter of recommendation. I reworked my letter of intent multiple times. And then I re-applied. And waited.

I can’t explain the feeling I got when that email from UCF popped into my inbox. It was all I could do not to burst into tears at my desk at work. I just kept thinking, “I did it, I really did it.” I was finally going to be able to do what I really wanted to do. 

Some questions I’ve gotten: Are you moving or commuting? What’s happening to the blog? 

Jon and I do not want to live in Orlando long term, so we decided it would be best if I just got a place in Orlando while I was in school. He’ll still be in St. Pete and I will be traveling home on the weekends. 

The blog will still be going strong. No matter what my day time job is, I will always be a foodie and will always love to share my foodie experiences. I hope to share some new experiences with you as I enter this new chapter of my life.

Have you ever changed careers? I want to hear your stories! 

 

Food Wine Conference – A Recap

It’s been two weeks and I’m still on a post Food Wine Conference high. If you missed my last post, I got to attend this year’s Food Wine Conference in Orlando as a Brand Ambassador. I’ve had my eye on this conference for the past few years and was thrilled to finally be able to go this year.

First off, Rosen Shingle Creek is an AMAZING place. Having worked for a hotel before, I tend to be picky when it comes to hotels. Rosen has it down. The property is gorgeous and extremely well maintained. The rooms are spacious and well decorated. In terms of our conference, everything ran smoothly (at least from my outside perspective). And the service by the employees was some of the best I’ve ever experienced. I didn’t meet one employee who didn’t smile and say hello, or who wasn’t jumping to help people if they needed it.

 

And the FOOD…so so so delicious. The first night of the conference there was a Taste of Rosen Shingle Creek event, where the chefs at Rosen presented dishes from all of Rosen’s restaurants. I could not eat fast enough at this event…I wanted to try everything! Unfortunately, I don’t think I was able to try everything, but what I did have was simply amazing. 

food wine conference

food wine conference

food wine conference

Each bite was incredibly flavorful and unique. I loved certain twists on favorite dishes as well, such as Fried Lasagna (yes, you read that right) and Strawberry Shortcake Beignets (yes, you also read that right).

food wine conference

food wine conference

The first full day of the conference got kicked off by keynote speaker, Ina Pinkey. This woman…I wish I could hang out with her on a regular basis. Ina showed a documentary, Breakfast at Ina’s, that was about the closing of her restaurant. It intertwined Ina’s life story and how she got to where she is today. Let’s just say Ina has led an amazing and brave life and many tears were shed while watching this documentary.

The sessions during the first day highlighted everything from social media and branding to book publishing to sustainability. One of my favorite sessions of the day was a panel of farmers, who spoke about their jobs and sustainability with such passion. Being a foodie, it was so interesting to hear about the other side of the plate and how much work goes into us getting our food.

Speaking of food, I was incredibly impressed with, not only how yummy the food at Rosen was, but how healthy it was too. Conference sponsors like Duda and Mann’s helped provide the food, which was all so fresh and so tasty. For a snack we had smoothie bowls and we had a make your own taco bar for lunch that had tons of fresh veggies, including cauliflower rice!

food wine conference

And of course, it wouldn’t be a food and wine conference without some celebrating! Each year the conference has a special family style dinner followed by a fun, themed after party. This year’s theme was the ’50s and it was so fun to see everyone in their poodle skirts and Greaser outfits.

Dinner was hosted by Certified Angus Beef and was BEYOND amazing. Everything from the beef to the collared greens to the cornbread was absolutely delicious. And our meal was paired with CK Mondavi wines, which made the experience all the more enjoyable.

food wine conference

food wine conference

The after party was one of the cutest things I have ever seen. They really went all out in giving the room a sock hop feel. Including fun contests like a twist contest (which I lost), hula hoop contest and bubble gum blowing contest. So fun!

food wine conference

food wine conference

food wine conference

I think I enjoyed the second day of the conference even more than the first. It was packed full of informative sessions on how to improve your Instagram, how to make cool videos on your phone, food styling, etc. I’ve been to a lot of marketing and social media workshops in my day and these sessions were by far some of the most informative. It was quite impressive! My two favorite sessions of the day were Sandi McKenna and Jeff Houck’s Fingertip Film Festival and Stefani Polluck’s session on Instagram.

 

It was a long, fun filled weekend and I was so happy that I finally got to attend. I can’t wait until next year! 

 

Food Wine Conference 2017 *Discount Code*

I am tickled pink to say that I will be attending this year’s Food Wine Conference from May 19-21 in Orlando, FL as a Brand Ambassador! I have had my eye on this conference for the past 2 years but something else has always come up and I haven’t been able to go. This conference is basically every local foodie/blogger’s dream. Two days filled with a mix of food industry knowledge and blogger knowledge. I can’t wait!

The Food Wine Conference is put on by Sunday Supper, which is a community of family and food bloggers. From their site: “We strive to create a better future for families, by partnering with brands and services that help families feel good, eat better, and interact with each other. We want our mission to reach the homes of all families and inspire people across the world to spend time around the family table.”

The Food Wine Conference is held at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, FL. I’ve been to this resort once before and it is an absolute dream. The first night of the conference there will be a Taste of Shingle Creek, where the chefs of Rosen Shingle Creek will display dishes from all of Rosen Shingle Creek’s admired restaurants. Definitely can’t wait for this great kick off to the conference!

There are a plethora of knowledgeable speakers headlining the conference this year. It’s hard to say what sessions I’m most excited to attend, but a few are definitely peaking my interest more than others. 

Keynote speaker, Ina Pinkey, is a chef and cookbook author who ran a restaurant for 30 years. She has won numerous awards and seems to have a true passion and drive for her career. I can’t wait to hear her story.

I have become an Instagram fanatic and being in the marketing field I know how important social media presence can be. So I’m equally excited to soak up some knowledge from multiple speakers on this topic, including Amanda Rettke, Dorothea Bozicolona-Volpe and Stefani Pollack.

And being the true foodie I am, I’m also interested to see what Debbie Lyons-Blythe has to say during her talk about food sustainability.

Oh and did I mention that the Saturday awards dinner theme is ’50s sock hop??? Fun fact: My favorite musical growing up was Grease and I must have seen it no less than 100,000,000 times. Now should I go poodle skirt a la Sandy or Greaser a la Rizzo?

Have I convinced you yet that this conference is THE place to be May 19-21? I did? Awesome! When you’re ready to sign up just go to foodandwineconference.com and make sure to use discount code: KatieM2017 That puppy will get you $50 off the ticket price! The site also has the full schedule up so you can see all of the speakers that will be attending and what they’re all about.

Hope to see you fellow foodies there!

 

 

 

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