As I dodged yet another painful gathering around a large sheet cake and waited for Annie, cake in hand, to pop into my cubicle to ask me for the umpteenth time whether or not I thought so-and-so liked her, I yearned for a job where I could make my own schedule and have some autonomy. The prospect seemed vastly out of reach at the time. A remote job would have been my ultimate dream, but not only were remote jobs uncommon at this time, but Top Secret documents are not allowed outside of a secure building, so my current employment at the Central Intelligence Agency would definitely not grant me that wish.
You see, really my goal was to have freedom.
Years later, as CIA Headquarters was beckoning me back to endless cake gatherings, pointless meetings and mindless office chatter, I finally found a way out. I would take a dramatic risk and start over almost from zero. I had worked undercover for the CIA for the previous eight years, so my work history appeared to be a black hole. Most employers outside of the intelligence community tend to look skeptically at someone whose resume contains such a mysterious gap. Even after I had my cover removed and my resume cleared, finding work after the CIA would be challenging at best.
“No one wants a thirty-seven year old,” a misguided acquaintance informed me. I repeatedly heard that phrase in slightly different forms, referring to both the professional and personal relationship worlds. Needless to say, it didn’t help. At this low point in my life I could have used the services of someone like Lorraine Rise, owner, CEO and head coach at Career UpRising. Ms. Rise is a career coach who works with mid and late career professionals who are looking to change careers, launch a job search, or overcome the age bias. She began in the health and weight loss industry and was a director and regional trainer for Jenny Craig. She was laid off in 2013 and then made a career change to human resources where she supported the recruiting efforts of numerous firms, to include many defense contractors with whom I am very familiar, in the Washington, D.C. area.
While Ms. Rise gained valuable human resources experience in this position, she still yearned for autonomy and freedom in her work life. While she didn’t see entrepreneurship coming, after an experience with a toxic job from which she ended up being fired, all of her experience gave her the motivation to start her own business. Career UpRising was born.
Lorraine founded Career UpRising in 2015, taking everything she had learned and using it to help others who want more from their career, as she had. She offers guidance, accountability, and resources to those who are looking to change fields or launch a job search. Her company also offers support with interview preparation, salary negotiation, networking, resume writing, as well as much more. When she first began, she had little experience and therefore did not charge very much. As time went on, she gained more confidence and gradually started increasing her fees and expanding her services. These days, Lorraine heads a team of professionals and they have served over four hundred clients in dozens of industries, both public and private. Many of her clients come from recognizable firms such as Microsoft, Amazon, Fannie Mae, Coca Cola, IBM and others. The biggest challenge she faced in the beginning days of starting the business was just finding the courage to get started even when she didn’t have a lot of experience. She overcame that challenge by setting small goals and achieving them before moving on to larger ones. Though based out of the Washington, D.C. area, Lorraine’s creation, Career UpRising, now serves clients all across the globe.
As Ms. Rise’s company continues to grow, expanding the ways she can reach more people, she has recently accomplished one of her biggest goals: to write a book. What You Didn’t Learn In School: Lessons on Growth, Change and Living Your Best Life is a collection of thirty essays, or teachings, from her work as a coach as well as her own experiences. It is available for pre-order now and will be released on December 5, 2023.
I recently had the opportunity to interview Ms. Rise. The following is what she shared with me.
How does one become a career coach?
There are training programs and certifications you can earn through a number of organizations. I’ve earned mine through Career Thought Leaders and the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches. I also leveraged the corporate experience I already had in human resources and recruiting.
Do you have any top tips for how you get out of being “stuck” in your career and life?
Yes, I hear the word “stuck” more than any other word when I talk to clients! Being “stuck” can mean different things to different people. In most cases, it just means they lack clarity on what their next step is or how to get there. We’re never really stuck though. We always have options we just don’t always know what they are or how to make it happen.
Do you have a typical type of client that uses your service? Describe them.
Yes, we work with mid and late career professionals most of whom are forty plus. Many of them are even sixty plus. People are working longer than they used to and this age group still needs to be relevant and competitive in the job market. Many of them have very long job tenures (fifteen, twenty plus years) at one company and starting over after that can be very overwhelming. We enjoy being able to support people at that juncture in their career.
How do you find your clients, or how do they find you, generally speaking?
Most clients find me on LinkedIn. That’s the social media platform where I have the largest following. We also get clients from referrals and internet searches.
Is there a location that you find you get most of your clients from?
Career UpRising knows no borders! Most of our clients are from the U.S. but we’ve clients in Australia, Europe and even Africa. It always blows me away when international clients find us.
Is there an industry or profession that you find more people trying to get out of, to find something new?
We’ve seen a sharp increase in public school teachers leaving the classroom and transitioning into the corporate world. I believe that the pandemic, as well as the onset of remote work, fueled this change.
Do you find today that people are wanting more remote work? Do you see more of that or has there been a shift in your experience with people not wanting in-person office jobs and opting for more remote work options?
Yes, there is an incredible desire for remote work. Here in the U.S. though, there is a significant movement called Return to Office (RTO) in which companies are beginning to require workers to be onsite again. Thus, the desire for remote work is high but the opportunities are not as plentiful as you’d think.
I know you work with mid and late career professionals, but what would you advise a recent college graduate looking for a career that they love?
Yes, from time to time, we’ve had younger professionals referred to us—usually from our current clients. Much of what we teach is still applicable to early career professionals and we’re happy to help them.
Some say that there aren’t enough candidates or people who want to work in today’s world – specifically amongst our youngest generations. Are you finding that in your experiences? Are businesses having a hard time these days finding good candidates?
Overall, I do think they want to work but it looks different than it used to. The younger generation is pushing for more flexibility, autonomy, and creativity. They are not loyal to one employer and are more likely to embrace entrepreneurship and non-traditional career paths than the older generations.
What do you see mid and late career professionals looking for in a career change? Is there a common thread amongst them?
They want work that is meaningful and that compensates them for the experience they have so far. Many of them also want to pivot to new industries in order expand their skills and their future opportunities.
What is the age of the oldest late career professional you have helped? What were they looking for?
We’ve helped clients who are in their late sixties. I’m not sure if I’ve had anyone in their seventies yet! Oftentimes, they want to work longer in order to stay active and engaged. They could retire but they just don’t want to.
Do you have any resume writing tips?
Yes. Remember that your resume is a marketing tool first and foremost, and it should clearly communicate your qualifications, experience, and value to potential employers using specific, quantifiable achievements when possible. Continuously update your resume as you gain new skills and experiences, and tailor it for each job application to increase your chances of landing interviews.
Do you have a number one tip for being successful in an interview?
Interviews are not just about the employer assessing you, but they are also an opportunity for you to evaluate if the company and role align with your career goals and values. Cultural fit is very important. Approach the interview as a two-way conversation, and don’t be afraid to ask questions to ensure it’s the right fit for you as well. Lastly, use your intuition. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
Do you have any tips to help with nervousness in an interview? How can an applicant calm their nerves when they are in an interview?
Get to the bottom of why you are nervous. What are you afraid of? Oftentimes, we put too much emphasis on getting a certain job that it makes us overly nervous. There’s too much pressure on the situation. Do some introspection to find the root of the nervousness (usually a fear) and work through that.
How do you personally stay motivated?
Doing work that I love naturally motivates me. I’m very blessed to be in a career that is joyful for me. I think the first step is knowing what motivates you and then building a career around that.
How do you deal with stress?
I’ve learned that stress is a state of mind usually caused by fear. Get to the heart of what you are afraid of. Are you afraid of failing? Being judged? These self-created fears are nearly always what cause our stress, not the actual situation.
How do you deal with anxiety?
Writing is very therapeutic for me. If I’m having anxiety, I write it out as a way of releasing it.
Tell me about a time you struggled in your life and how you got yourself out of it.
I’ve had some health challenges over the last four years and my family and my faith definitely got me through. Having a strong support system is critical for getting through hard times.
Do you ever have a day when you dread work or just do not want to go to work? What do you do on those days to get yourself going and in a better frame of mind?
I used to, but not nearly as much now that I work for myself! But yes, I’ve had many days where I’ve dreaded work and it’s a difficult thing to get through. We spend so much time at work, being unhappy there is not tolerable for me! Sometimes you have to focus your vision on the future and use your current situation to motivate you to take action and create a better future. Whenever I’ve been at a bad job, I’ve asked myself: What can I learn from this? How can I use this experience to create, or find, something better?
What is your number one tip for people trying to find work that they love and enjoy doing? How can they find that activity that will be something they like doing, but can also make money while doing?
Know yourself. Know what you enjoy and what you are good at. From there, you can nearly always find a way to monetize it—whether through a job or working for yourself.
Lorraine Rise took a risk and left the corporate world at thirty-one. She now has a thriving global business where she not only does work she loves, but she is able to give back by helping people find work that they will love. She serves as a wonderful example to her own teenage daughter, showing her that she can do whatever she wants for a living. She doesn’t have to fit into the nine-to-five if she does not choose to. She can carve out her own career.
So can you.
If you would like to learn more about Lorraine Rise and Career UpRising, please visit www.careeruprising.com. Her podcast, Career UpRising, can be found on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeart Radio, as well as on her website.