Spotlight Series: Meet Jennifer Bryant Award Winning Certified Career and Life Coach

1.Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a Change Champion and Kingdom Builder who enjoys spending time with my two lovely teenagers, supporting several community service organizations, programs, and projects, and traveling to warm places with beautiful water and palm trees.

I am the Executive Founder of Reaching Within, An Empowerment Journey and Award Winning Certified Life and Career Coach, consultant, and motivational speaker. In addition to Reaching Within, An Empowerment Journey, I have nearly 31 years of public sector experience with over 20 years of demonstrated expertise in helping individuals and teams become high performers and more marketable. My educational background and personal experiences have given me a broad base from which to help clients find their inner strength to create and revise their personal and professional journey in life to achieve results.

I equip clients with executable steps to achieve personal and professional goals through goal setting and confidence building. I transform the client's mindset to trust the process and to overcome barriers to boost confidence to reach their career potential. As a two-time domestic violence and sexual assault survivor, I provide awareness on this issue on my Empowerment Journey Podcast as well as moderating domestic violence programs. As a best selling author, motivational and inspirational speaker, I regularly receive speaking invitations from federal agencies, academia, and community organizations. I have also appeared in global magazines, on TV, and podcasts.

2. What was your first job and how did you get it?

My first job was cleaning a house of my mom's friends every Thursday at the age of 14 to pay for my trips to the hair salon. I later worked in a fast food restaurant, Roy Rogers, at the age of 17, followed by a short stint as a certified nursing assistant while working at People's Drug Store. My family and friends encouraged me to apply for a government position because I was looking for job security where I worked fixed working hours Monday through Friday, received vacation time, and could help others.

I received my first federal job offer while riding on the subway. How you ask? Because I showed up as my authentic self and entered into a conversation with a stranger. I was a nervous 19 year old riding the subway and a lady was sitting nearby me. I struck up a general conversation with her. I recalled we laughed. When I was getting off the subway, she asked me where I was going? I shared my name, and stated that I was going to a federal job fair. She introduced herself to me and I did the same. She told me I was hired because if I could enter into a friendly conversation with a stranger on the subway, then I would make a great clerk-typist because executives would want me to be the first person others would see when they entered their office. That was my quickest hire ever, and the beginning of my nearly 31 years of federal service.

I had great supporters, mentors, supervisors, who helped me believe in myself. While earning my bachelor’s degree, I worked on my federal government job during the day and cleaned bathrooms at night. Others in management noticed my drive and determination and I was offered job promotions. After graduating college with my Bachelors and Masters Degree, I moved up the ranks quickly from clerk-typist to an Executive Director. I've held a range of positions (clerk-typist, senior secretary, operations support specialist, program analyst, Associate Director, Program Services Director, Business Management Office Director, Special Advisor, Executive Advisor, Mission Support Division Executive Director, and Senior Counselor to the Associate Director). I'm grateful for my experiences because it helps me to coach others at all levels.

3. How did you decide and get to your career today?

I was fatherless during my childhood and spent my teenage years caring for my mentally ill mother - a time during which my only sibling was incarcerated. I looked past my challenging beginnings and reached within myself to find the strength to look for a federal government position at 19 years old. I always enjoyed helping others and decided to leverage my skill sets to coach others across 22 different federal departments and agencies. In 2017, I registered my own career coaching practice where I help clients with career mapping, resume tips and tools, interview preparation, and professional development.

4. What advice would you have given your younger self? Or what is the best career advice you have ever received?

The best career advice I would give is to have multiple streams of income, find a mentor, remain humble, speak truth to power, and be a perpetual learner. I've always kept younger and older generations with diverse skill sets and experience in my circle. I have learned lessons which shaped me to become the pioneer I am today and the ability to retire before the age of 50 in the federal sector and start a new career in the fourth largest financial institution in the U.S. where I serve as a peer coach. I continue to operate my career coaching business in the evening and weekends. As part of my career coaching advice to others, I also share with them to show up as their authentic self because they are interviewing everyday even though it may be in a conventional or unconventional setting. People are watching how you show up! Show the world your magic!

5. In 5 years, where do you hope to be professionally and personally?

I will continue following my passion to help others to ignite their fire by reaching within to find their inner strength through my 8 week career coaching V.I.S.I.O.N. program that incorporates my book, Overcoming Personal Challenges to Achieve Professional Success. The program covers goal setting, and career action planning. I hope that my daughters will always remain authentic, speak truth to power, and serve as change agents, pioneers, and leave a legacy for their generation and future generations.

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