Growing up, I was fascinated by the world of work. To me, it was full of excitement and opportunity. Like most children, I was first introduced to the world of work by my parents. My mother was a teacher, and I was mesmerized by the displays she created for her classroom. Later, she changed careers and sold bonds. Dinner conversations were filled with talks about investments and junk bonds and the relationship between politics and the economy. She used her skills from teaching to lead seminars and build her clientele. My mother was the only woman in her office, and her example taught me to take risks and explore my interests.

My father served in the roles of Editor and Publisher at various music, fashion, and lifestyle magazines, and took me to his office frequently. I watched music editors skateboarding through the halls. Makeup artists pulled me into brightly lit rooms to try on the latest sparkly eye-shadows. At age five, fashion designers rolled me into fabric that became custom dresses. As a teenager, I styled photo shoots on location and helped plan charitable events at such venues at The Plaza and The National Arts Club in Manhattan. I learned to sell advertising, cold-calling boutiques on Manhattan’s Upper East side.

I planned to prepare for a career in communications in college, but soon became fascinated by politics. Nevertheless, I stayed with what I knew, interning in a fashion PR firm my first summer, where I helped manage a fashion showroom, lending clothes out for photo shoots at publications including Vogue, People, and more. The next summer, following my sophomore year as a political science major at Barnard College, I had the incredible opportunity to serve as a Research Assistant for Gloria Steinem. Working for her on a daily basis was truly inspiring, and I was hugely influenced by her ability to be so clear, concise, and deeply caring. Throughout high school and college, I had worked on many charitable events and volunteered as a tutor and mentor, but Ms. Steinem’s influence compelled me to feel more dedicated to the causes I valued. A few years and several internships later, during my senior year, I was thrilled to be selected to serve on the Clinton-Gore Transition Team in Washington, D.C. After that, I was approaching graduation and interested in so many things: people, politics, business, fashion, music, education, women’s issues, and more. I had no clear career direction, no clear next step, but knew that I would benefit from a job where I could learn more about the world, meet interesting people, and develop my research and writing skills.

This led me to work in public relations. I worked on accounts for television shows, lifestyle experts, a new record label, and up-and-coming bands. PR can be exciting, with the thrill of an event, photo shoots, and favorable press coverage for clients. But what energized me most were the intricacies of developing a cohesive brand that represented my clients, and the helpful coaching I received from the experienced publicists in my office.

After a year of representing Lucille Roberts, CEO and founder of Lucille Roberts Health Clubs (a regional chain of all-women’s health clubs in the Northeast), I moved to her company as Marketing Manager. Inside this family-run business, I got to know the club’s managers and assistant managers, as well as the company’s financial, legal and real estate teams. I loved getting to know everyone, and learning about their career goals and dreams. I began sharing my insights with Ms. Roberts, telling her who was in college or business school, who wanted to work in management, and who loved teaching fitness classes. She began to add human resource tasks to my workload and then started asking me to do something she described as even more valuable: talking to her friends’ college-age children about their career interests.

These conversations were deeply engaging. We talked about their skills, past experiences, education, and interests; my mind filled with thoughts about their next steps and how I could help them create career opportunities.

Around the same time, I had been noticing articles in the Wall Street Journal about the growing field of career coaching and the need for ongoing career support. As a marketing executive, I was experiencing first-hand the impact of rapid changes in the business world. I was twenty six years old, and, because I was working in the fitness industry, coaching was already on my mind—and not just to help people reach health and fitness goals. I had been spending some of my weekends working as a leadership instructor with Prep for Prep, a not-for-profit that offers extensive support and scholarships for promising NYC students. I loved the engaging curriculum we used, and working with the students. I especially enjoyed helping them tap into their own motivation while offering support and tools to help them manage the challenges they faced at school and at home. Coaching was also meaningful to me on a personal basis, since I had been a competitive figure skater. It was a hobby I started at age six, that took me to U.S. Regional competitions by middle school. I remember every one of my coaches, along with each of their personal styles of encouragement and support.

A clear career interest emerged. I began exploring graduate programs to develop the skills needed to help others manage and develop their careers. The next phase of my work is described in my bio, through the education and experience I’ve had as a career counselor.

Like many of us, much of what I do today is still influenced by my early experiences. The open-mindedness, joy, eagerness, and curiosity about work that shaped my childhood and early career helped me prepare for today’s intensely competitive economy. I see opportunity in unexpected places, and I believe we can all discover a work environment that will feel right.

As a career counselor, I help people address two key, personal questions: “What career is right for me?” and “How do I get there?” In today’s economy, few of us will find ourselves asking these questions only once. We will look at the world around us and make choices that reflect our changing needs and the developments we see. It has been a great privilege to be part of so many people’s journey to build a life that is meaningful and rewarding, discovering work that works for them. I look forward to being a resource to you!

Francine Fabricant, EdD helps people rethink their opportunities and build careers that are personally meaningful and rewarding. Lead author of the award-winning college career book, Creating Career Success, she has worked at Hofstra University, the Fashion Institute of Technology, and Columbia University. Francine holds degrees from Barnard College and Teachers College, Columbia University and is a frequent speaker on career topics.


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