Ask the Business Coach
Joyce K. Reynolds is an expert Business Coach who works with CEOs, Sr. Execs, entrepreneurs and countless others providing knowledge, solutions, motivation and support that assist her clientele in successfully meeting workplace challenges. Find out more about Joyce’s coaching practice.
Question: I need help figuring our my career path. I have a bachelor’s degree in Journalism, and worked a couple of years towards a master’s in Geology. It has been a few years now, and I still haven’t gone back to finish my masters degree. After several deaths in my family, I reevaluated my life and decided that I don’t really want to work full-time – I want to be home for my children and my husband. I would prefer a job with an easy-going environment, and one where I don’t have to sit at a desk all day. I have considered becoming a professional organizer, but don’t know where to begin. Also, is it possible to apprentice with an established professional organizer to see if this is what I’d really like to do? Thanks for your help.
Answer: As the workplace continues to take some interesting turns, you are certainly not alone in deciding that you’d like to forgo a full-time career to be home for your husband and children. Initially, when considering a career downshift, it’s helpful to look at possible adaptations of your current profession which would supply easy carry over of skills, expertise and credentials. It is also beneficial to make note of all the things you really enjoy doing versus things you never want to do again and evaluate these in light of your resume to see what directions emerge. As it appears you are no longer interested in pursuing either your former interests in journalism or geology, it will be even more important to see if such an overview supports your newly identified interest in professional organizing.
Generally speaking, professional organizers help too-busy – or simply disorganized – people who require being led into a more methodical way of life. Guiding people through this kind of change requires a touch of diplomacy and a little letting-go psychology to go along with organizing skills. You can begin to determine whether or not you’re adaptable to this profession by studying your past positions and the skills they required. If they match up handily, you can feel confident to continue your pursuit of this profession.
Keeping in mind that you stipulated that you – “would prefer a job with an easy-going environment, and one where you don’t have to sit at a desk all day” – you’ll want to determine whether or not professional organizing fits successfully into the category of a low key, part-time job. In any event, be clear that making a go of even a part-time business (or any service profession) will, at least in the beginning, require a lot of time, effort, marketing and dedication. You must, therefore, establish exactly what you are willing to invest in this kind of startup effort.
If you decide to proceed, one of the most important things you’ll need to do is develop a program that will support your ability to deliver on your promise to help your clients get better organized. This includes putting into place organizational tools that will assist you in this effort. Expert Christy Best says about the profession, “Professional Organizers provide information, products and assistance to help others organize to meet their needs. A professional organizer should guide, encourage and educate clients about basic principles of organizing by offering support, focus and direction; While being organized yourself is a definite asset, simply doing what works for you may be too limiting for the client. The critical skill that a professional organizer must have is the ability to create customized organizing solutions that work for the client.”
Best also indicates that “public awareness of the organizing industry is increasing and stimulating the demand for organizers”; that many organizers “bill between 20-40 hours per week; and 42% said they had a gross income of $30,000 and above.” So it would seem there is good potential in this field depending on the amount of income you need to derive from whatever work you elect to do.
Another website to visit which will give you some answers regarding your startup question is: http://www.organized-living.com/apprentice.html re: “Apprenticeship Program For Professional Organizers Want to Get started as a pro?”
Finally, take a look at this state-by-state directory. You’ll not only see the variety of ways people in this profession describe themselves, you can also find out if there’s someone in your area to connect with along the lines of an internship.