Spotlight Series: Meet Career Coach and Founder of AYM Consulting Andrea Macek

1. Tell us a bit about yourself

Hey there!! My name is Andrea. I’m a career coach for early-career women. I mostly work with women in their 20s and 30s to help them create an action plan for the next steps in their careers. We are so often socialized to pursue a certain definition of success, and often one that is defined by our family or friends. However, it’s not until we are given the opportunity to step out on our own, that we are fully able to define and create the definition of success that is meant for us. This is what I help my clients do - I help them align who they are with where they want to be, and create an action plan that will allow them to pursue their definition of career success.

I support women in designing a career plan that fits into their lives, taking away their guesswork of what to do next and where to spend their energy and time. I help them identify their high-potential skills and talents in a way that supports their true self so they’re able to break the cycle of being stuck. Using a reflective and experiential approach, I allow clients to create alignment in order to act intention throughout their career, driving results with their evolving career goals (career change, promotion, networking, etc.)

On a personal note, I’m a born New Yorker with Caribbean roots (my family is from Trinidad and Tobago). I was raised in Florida and I now call Chicago home. I live in the heart of the city with my wonderful husband. We have a passion for exploring culture through great food and wine. I’m a connector to my core and love meeting new people. I’m always looking to have a great conversation with other passionate like-minded women!

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

My first job was working in the Student Employment office at DePaul University (in Chicago). The office is a part of the Career Services office. The irony of landing my ideal job as my first job isn’t lost on me (I’ll talk about that next). I spent my days chatting with students about possible career paths and helping them figure out their definition of success. This ignited every part of my being!

I got this job by networking, and it’s how I’ve successfully navigated every career pivot and change. I was still in graduate school, and I negotiated permission to take a few days away from classes to attend networking events in order to better position myself upon graduation. I attended an event at DePaul and met my future boss - I didn’t even know they had a job open until the event. I was able to connect with him and articulate my skill and value proposition for the job. There is so much value in networking, and it’s a skill that requires practice (like most things). I’ve come to understand that my ability to connect with others is my superpower. I’m able to connect in a way that is authentic and meets others where they’re at. This allows me to articulate a position of mutual benefit, allowing me to

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

My career today as a career coach was a clear, direct path. Just kidding! The path to creating my career coaching business, AYM Consulting was formed out of a 15+ year journey to align my passion and career.

Like many of you, my professional journey began in college. I chose the "right" degree that would open doors to a great job and salary. My passion has always been to help and serve others, though it took me a while to be brave enough to pursue the path of career coaching. After stepping away from the pre-med track in college, I was faced with my first experience of re-defining success. This led to a stream of questions rooted in fear and guilt; “What do I do next?”, “What if I don't get a job?”. For years, I hid insecurity and self-doubt, perpetually feeling that I couldn’t keep up. After completing my bachelor’s in Psychology, I went on to pursue a Master’s degree in Industrial Organizational (business) Psychology with the intention of working in consulting. But upon graduation, I found myself having to pivot and re-define again as the recession hit. That “detour” landed me a job in higher education where I worked in the career services office helping students figure out their definition of success. I’d like to tell you that this led to a fun, easy path of being a career coach today, but that is not the case. Like so many of my clients, I questioned career “shoulds” I had walked away from and re-defined success again. I spent the next several years climbing a corporate ladder in healthcare. But I quickly realized I was on a path that made everyone else happy. I was checking boxes and achieving success while feeling unhappy and lost. I kept daydreaming about how I could go back to helping others find their path. Even though up to this point I had practiced re-defining success, I was still allowing others to define it for me. That is until the decision was made for me when I was laid off from my corporate healthcare job. It was the “shove” I needed to finally define success my way. And, my career coaching business was formed.

With that clarity, I was able to evaluate the skills and experiences I already had in order to move forward, while also giving attention to the areas in my life that were already supporting my future goal. I had direction. This direction created intentional, and informed action steps, creating forward momentum. I was able to successfully repeat this process again and again, learning how to build-in flexibility to adjust when new priorities inevitably presented.

I had practiced this process throughout my career. And now I am sharing this method of success with my clients.

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

I would tell my early career or younger self to not be so scared to take action. To try something new. To try out different careers and pursue hobbies and passions. And while it may feel like a detour, it doesn’t have to be. You have permission to confirm and deny and explore career opportunities and it won’t derail you. The sooner you’re clear on what defines success for you, the sooner you can align your action and be intentional about how you get there. When you allow others to define your success, it won’t feel right or fill you up because you’re pursuing their path, not your own. Stop “should-ing” yourself and let go of the guilt.

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

I will continue to grow and scale my company so that it continues to support and empower women in their careers. I plan to have a national platform that will provide career support to women before they enter the workforce. I want women to be aware of and explore career opportunities early so that they can practice their definition of success. I plan to have programs in high-schools and colleges to support this mission. I also want to have a platform for first-generation women to support their career success. As a first-generation woman myself, this is a personal mission to provide career mobility and pay it forward. Personally, I plan to continue to enjoy the adventure of marriage with my husband through travel and staying connected with our friends and family.

Stay connected with Andrea!

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