Kori Linn is a fascinating and incredibly creative woman! I first met her on Elpha when I was speaking with women who grew up in Arts & Humanities and are now doing amazing things in diverse fields and career paths.
Kori Linn’s story stood out to me, as a seeming hardcore Arts/Humanities Grad, with the extra relish of bagging an MFA, so I asked if she could share her story on the website.
“Until my late 20s, I didn’t actively navigate my career, and I spent a considerable amount of time in confusion and frustration trying to figure out what I truly wanted to do for work. In retrospect, I can see how every job I’ve held has served me in one way or another, but at many points, along the way, I felt lost, hopeless, and overwhelmed.
When I graduated with a double BA in French and English, I moved to France and taught English to high schoolers. It wasn’t a strategic move, and I didn’t have a plan for afterward. I just loved France and wanted to immerse myself in the language I’d spent so many years studying. It was an amazing experience, and it gave me more life skills than I realized at the time.
When I moved back to the US, I still didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, or even how one goes about building a career, so I spent a few years nannying, got an MFA in Creative Writing, spent a few years bartending, and picked up freelance writing gigs along the way. Even though I didn’t realize it, each of these things was teaching me valuable skills that I would one day use in a corporate setting. But at the time, I wasn’t sure what I was building towards. Sometimes I loved the freedom of things like bartending and freelance writing, but I also craved a more stable lifestyle, and I wanted to transition from having a job (or two) to building a career.
The hardest part of transitioning from the freelance/bartender phase to the next phase was just learning how to see me in a new way. I felt like an imposter because I hadn’t followed what I considered to be a traditional career track. I was afraid that my eclectic background would hold me back. I was lamenting to a friend who helped me shift my perspective in a really valuable way. She helped me brainstorm ways my exact background made me a very compelling fit for the roles I was applying for. She also showed me how to translate my experiences into language that recruiters and hiring managers would understand. My friend showed me what I couldn’t yet see about myself. She showed me that so much more was possible for me than the jobs I’d worked up to that point, and she showed me that I didn’t need to be any more ready than I was.
The role I landed was a project manager at a boutique marketing company. It was thrilling, in the way a first big step often is. After about nine months, they closed their Seattle office, and I found myself again looking for a job. Another friend had recently gotten a job through a contracting agency, so I reached out to them. They sent me a job description for a writing role in IT. I almost didn’t apply for it. But when the recruiter assured me it could be a good fit, I decided to trust her, the same way I’d trusted my friend the year before when she told me that I was more ready and qualified than I thought I was. I got that job, and it turned out to be amazing.
There was a lot I didn’t know about that role going in, but I decided that I was going to crush it and I did. Within seven months, they converted me from a contractor to a full employee. A year later, they promoted me to the senior position.
But my favorite part is that I loved that job. I met amazing people that I’m still friends with. I created and executed communications plans that touched all 25,000 employees. I learned to think as techs think, and now when my computer does something weird, I assume I can fix it instead of assuming I can’t. I earned enough money to pay off all my student loans before I turned 34. I was nicknamed the office life coach and when I left to launch my coaching business, several of my coworkers signed up to become my clients. I won awards. The VP of IT regularly reached out to me for ghostwriting, graphics, and other projects. In many ways, it was the best office job I could imagine. It shaped who I am, and I’ll be forever grateful.
And now, I’m a burnout coach. I help women in tech crush it at work without it crushing them. It’s my dream job, and it became possible because of the work I did up to this point. And that’s what I’d like you to take away from this: career journeys can be full of twists and turns, surprises and delights, but no matter where your career takes you, you can find something useful there, if you learn how to look at the data and find the story you want to tell.”
Gbemi Lolade Adekanmbi is the cultivator of For Creative Girls. She is a firm believer in the fact that there is no division between the ability for science and the ability for Art. Her goal is to cultivate this ability with as many people as possible and make creatives a living, breathing part of how the world, organisations, and societies run.