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How I Got Here: Stepping Out of Comfortable

Let’s rewind a bit to figure out how I went from wasting everyone’s time and money—most, unfortunately, my own—to finally stepping into what I believe to be my passion and my purpose.

I spent almost 2 years at the University of Missouri “studying” Psychology. Let’s be clear, by studying I mean procrastinating, partying and running up a bill at the student store. (Why would they give an 18-year old a $1000 credit on their student card?) While I had plans on becoming an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist my actions in school were not helping me reach that goal. In hindsight, I can confidently say that I had no idea what I wanted to do with myself which led to my lack of motivation and consistency.

At the end of those 2 years, I finally decided to stop racking up student loan debt at a $33,000 out-of-state institution and join the military. I still wasn’t too sure about the direction of my career. I wasn’t even too sure I wanted to make the military my career but it was an option after I had exhausted all others. I spent 5 years in the Army as a Signal Support Systems Specialist; in civilian terms, I was an Information Technology Help Desk Technician. I played the role of a system administrator, communication security analyst, sharpshooter, lawn mower, weed picker, professional driver, and filler of many other random, menial tasks the Army could use me as. I was a jack of all trades feeling like a master of none. Don’t get me wrong, I was extremely good at my job. I was the go-to soldier for all IT needs in my unit at the brigade level and lower. (I could definitely deliver!). I became certified in CompTIA Security+ while in the military, passing classes like Network+, IT Networking & Cisco Routing, SharePoint User & Designer, and later certifying in CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst+. During my 5-year military career I intermittently took classes in pursuit of my Bachelor’s degree in Information Technology: Data Networking and Security at Liberty University.

When I left the military I had every intention of continuing my career in IT, finishing my degree, and transitioning my skill set from Help Desk to Information/Cyber Security. I had multiple job interviews and offers-- turning down positions and education opportunities with Amazon Web Services and Comcast--and even serving as an Information Security Analyst at the “World’s Most Global Bank”, still without having obtained my Bachelor’s degree. Nothing seemed to be the right fit. That working environment wasn’t what I pictured for myself and I knew it. I was able to recognize that I was unhappy and unmotivated— similarly to my college career— the drive just wasn’t there. If you know anything about IT and/or Information Security, the field is ever evolving. You are constantly needing to certify, re-certify, stay abreast of the newest technology trends, self teach, etc. I just didn’t enjoy it enough to do those things on my own. Not to mention those certification tests are not cheap. I needed a career that I enjoyed enough to do 9-5 or longer; one that I could take home and didn’t seem like work; and one that allowed me to explore my real interests (whatever those are lol); and definitely one that I was willing to my spend time and money on expanding my level of knowledge.

I continued in what, for me, was the mundane world of IT. There were multiple reasons I stayed in IT. I did this primarily because I didn’t know what I wanted to do otherwise. I also had not actually chosen IT as my career but instead had fallen into and as it so happened was surprisingly good at it. Because I was unfamiliar with what actually choosing my career looked like, I stayed in one that was comfortable but unfulfilling. I was getting paid, and getting paid well so I felt like I’d be hustling backward to change careers, especially to a career I hadn’t even decided on yet.

To this day I can’t pinpoint how I came to instantly change my major and career. It surely could have been my subconscious pushing me into my purpose, as I would always answer some sort of interview question with “I’m really big on communication…It’s part of my foundation”. It also could have easily been the series of terrible marketing strategies and advertisements making headlines over the past few years, featuring blackface, anti-black rhetoric and symbolism. Leading me to take a look at my life as a major consumer, I was forced into my passion, wanting to make sure I, as an African American woman, am not only being considered and included by companies that I choose to spend my money with but also being the person in the room that has a say in the decision making on behalf of people that look like me.

Nevertheless, I am now a Communications major, interning at an inclusive organization-- Spool Marketing and Communications-- working alongside strong women with years of experience and knowledge they are so willing to share. We are all working under an awesome CEO who I personally thank for taking a chance on me and my unconventional, everything-but-marketing career path.

I still struggle with my bouts of procrastination, and lack of focus but thankfully it no longer has anything to do with my intended field of work. I may still be trying to figure out what role I fit into in marketing as a whole, but one thing is for certain and two things are for sure, I am on the right path, look forward to all that is to come and I’m enjoying every bit of the ride.

Taylor Metelus is Spool's current intern, she has a background in IT and is making the transition into marketing with an interest in social media.