Transition into Your Career of Choice - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

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Darlene Proctor had never planned to be a nurse for the rest of her life. So when a friend reminded her about a dream she once had to start a bed and breakfast she decided to figure out how to make the leap from hospitals to hospitality.

“I thought I had to be rich in order to do that. Then I [realized] a lot of people are doing this and they’re not rich. How are they doing it? So, I started investigating and moving in that direction,” says Proctor, a psyche nurse.

Proctor stumbled upon Vocation Vacations, a company that allows clients to test-drive their dream job. Through the program, she visited Chloe Tuttle, owner of Big Mill Bed and Breakfast in Williamston, NC, and the experience taught her lessons about how to get started.

Doing the same things day after day was one of Proctor’s problems with working as a nurse. She also wanted to express herself more creatively. “I looked around my house and I had more cookbooks than I had nursing books,” says Proctor.

Her four-day apprenticeship under Tuttle in March 2008 helped her realize that running a bed and breakfast would also require a lot of repetition. Although she still wanted to start a B&B she decided to supplement the inn with an events planning and culinary arm to prevent boredom.

Also, the experience showed her that financially, she wasn’t ready to purchase her own B&B yet, but that she could save the money by catering. As a result she will launch her catering company this summer while she continues to work in nursing.

When considering a drastic career change, especially in an uncertain economy, most people do not have the luxury to quit their day jobs to start a business or the money to return to school and learn a new discipline.

Whether it is by an apprenticeship, by a request to change departments at a company, or by launching a dream business people are finding ways to pursue a dream job while remaining at their old job full time. Here is how you can do it too.


Volunteer or apprenticeship work allows a quick foray into a new world without committing to the unknown or ending your day job. Two percent of adults who are employed full time choose to participate in an apprenticeship, according to a 2005 Adult Education Survey conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics.

When searching for an apprenticeship, Pamela Mitchell, founder of the Reinvention Institute, a career coaching company, suggests that you read the business sections of newspapers and magazines and look for businesses that are branching out in areas that you would be interested in learning about.

“If you are looking to get a lot of hands-on experience, entrepreneurial firms [as opposed to large firms] are really the best way to go because they are growing very quickly, they are always trying to do something new, and they can always use an extra pair of hands and an extra mind,” says Mitchell.

If your day job prohibits you from working on site, start out working on a particular project with defined parameters that can be accomplished during evenings and weekends, she says. Make sure that your mentor understands the goals which you are trying to meet.

Finally, make sure that the opportunity to stretch, grow, and apply new skills in new ways is available. “You want a [mentor] who values your contribution and gives you access,” says Mitchell.

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.