Love and Career

Love and Career

February 13th, 2015  |  Published in Business

By Thatsanaphone Bounyarith

Can success be defined by love? Or to put more bluntly, do you love your job? Oh, we’ve heard of that dream job—the American dream—where everyone strives to get that one job that pays more than enough for doing what you love and can say without question, “I’m passionate about my work”.

Every bookstore, coffee shop, and your daily horoscope this month will be drenched on how to hook that one love of your life, or how to question that one you already have.

It might be a strange notion, but right now is the perfect time to think about your job and career. Believe it or not, a job can be a lot like a complicated relationship or a relationship where your current love may not be your first choice. Maybe you know someone or maybe it’s you who’s stuck in a dead-end job. “But it’s a good job,” you’ll find yourself saying, “and I have so many friends with it.”

Finding reasons to stay, believing that it’s good because you’re in a safe place in life. All passions spent. Sounds familiar? But sometimes the hardest part of getting a career to love is just taking the first steps, and like starting a relationship, it isn’t going to happen magically on your doorsteps. In fact, mistakes will happen, there will be fights of feelings, and you may have to shed old relationships. The risks are real, but that doesn’t mean giving up on that one true love or your dream job.

As a young professional, I didn’t want to spend the next ten years working at a career that I had no passion for. Who does? So I began looking for a better understanding to how to achieve – or romance – the job of my dreams. I began looking for people who have found their calling and are in fact, doing what they love.

I had the pleasure of interviewing two inspirational Lao women. Both business leaders, both driven, and both successful in their own right. From there, they gave invaluable advice in obtaining a job that you love.

Monica Phromasavanh

Monica Phromasavanh shares the background of many Lao-immigrants. Born in a refugee-camp and raised in a foreign land, her beginnings were modest, and hardship was a way of life. Like many stories of success, Monica strived for her dreams and made a better life for herself. In a few short years, Monica was able to materialize her dreams by leaving her comfortable, yet passionless 9 to 5 job and became the proud Founder and CEO of ModaBox – an e-commercial business specializing in personal styling.

Because of her story and her success, Monica has been featured on Huffington Post, NBC News, and among other media outlets. Recently, Monica has been invited, as a keynote speaker, to speak at the Annual LANA (Laotian American National Alliance) Conference to be held in Rhode Island later this year. Love1

The pivotal moment for Monica was when she realized her 9 to 5 job was not fulfilling. Waiting for the clock to strike was not how Monica envisioned her future. She wanted more. For her, it’s just a feeling you get when something isn’t right. And just like that, Monica began planning her exit strategy.

Over several conversations with friends, Monica started taking an inventory of who she knew, what she knew already, and how to make ends meet. She researched the industry, networked, and found a niche – a demand in the fashion industry. And like that, she had a business plan. With the support of her friends and family, she would soon quit her job, take on a new roommate, and started her expedition to making her own retail company. Though scary, Monica never doubted her vision and persisted on. Throughout her life, Monica overcame many difficulties and challenges, and because of that she gained the confidences she needed to follow her dreams.

Samorn Selim

Samorn Selim, grew up in Stockton, California, and was on the traditional path to success. She was an American-All Star: graduating with Valedictorian honors from her high school, receiving both her undergraduate and law degree from UC Berkeley, passing the state bar, and proceeding to work for a top-notch law firm.

Samorn thought working at a prestigious law firm was what she wanted. She was making a six-figure income in San Francisco, living the Corporate American dream. But if she was living the dream, then why was she so exhausted and unhappy? Similar to Monica, Samorn started to question herself and her career choice.
Rather than continuing to live someone else’s dream, Samorn took the plunge to transition from practicing as an attorney to taking a position as a career counselor at her alma mater,  Berkeley Law. Recently, Samorn made another big transition to start her own business – Samorn Selim Career Coaching – where she gets to do what she loves by supporting other professionals in advancing their careers, especially women, first-generation professionals, and minorities. She also serves as the Associate Director for the Graduate Class at the Career Office of UC Hastings College of the Law. She has been mentoring and counseling others since her college years – and she was really good at it. She draws from her experiences working at her former law firm, Berkeley Law, and UC Hastings to serve as a foundation for her new business.

Samorn is a firm believer in giving back to the community. Samorn also provides pro bono career coaching services to first-generation college students, is an active public speaker, and has written for several news portals such as the Daily Journal and the Recorder.

So what advice can be applied to your life in getting that dream job?

The first thing you should expect is hard work. This is your dream job – your relationship – fight for it! Go out and find that career you can pour your heart and soul into. Though Monica Phromasavanh and Samorn Selim had different paths in finding their career, they had one thing in common: they never gave up.

The second step is getting support. That support will be the solid foundation to help you make the transition to your dream job. Monica Phromasavanh explains what kept her strong in her struggles, “My biggest challenge has always been the strength to get back up when you feel like you’ve hit rock bottom. I’m extremely lucky to have my business partners and Co-Founders, Daniel and Leona, who have been there for me from day one, and of course the rest of my amazing team who I’m blessed to have. We all know that we can rely on each other when the going get tough. I also have an amazing group of friends who constantly motivate me, I consider them my family.” Even Samorn Selim found herself at her wits end when she had no job in spite of fitting the mold of academic success. So she sought for sound advice, “Sometimes you have to reach out to your friends for support.”

The third advice is having a positive mindset. For Monica Phromasavanh and Samorn Selim, it means being honest and helping others. It will not only improve your whole outlook, but it may serve as a helping hand to others who have loveless jobs. Monica notes that her success is in part because of Karmic law: “It’s easy to be caught up in the hype and make bad decisions. My integrity helped me look beyond it.” Samorn also adds that you must help first yourself before you can help others. It might be difficult, but it’s worth it. It’s the same as any good relationship — you need to work on it for it to grow. But most importantly, you have to love it.

Samorn may have described it best, the symptoms that you’re finally falling in love with your dream job,”[you] wake up in the morning excited, and you don’t feel drained…If you have to, you will stay up all night to get the work done.” A dream job is not about what it gives you but what you find yourself willing to give back. It just shows that love in a relationship is not that much different from loving your job.