Photo by Emily Long
We are thrilled to introduce the first installment of Career Innovators: a series of stories, curated and brought to life by Jes Jarvis, about inspiring women who made bold changes in the early years of their careers to follow a dream. We hope these stories of women propelling their careers in unconventional ways will inspire other quarterlettes out there.
Do you know someone who would make a great Career Innovator story? Tell us about them in the Comments section!
Kelly Hogan was moving up at a public relations firm when she realized something while training for a marathon. She was completely fascinated with the role of food and nutrition in athletics and performance.
“My passion for sports nutrition has been there since my childhood gymnastics days,” explaining her decision to move her career in a new direction five years ago.
Kelly dived into visiting New York University’s acclaimed graduate nutrition program to meet with program directors. She struggled with the idea of relying entirely on student loans but knew in her gut that it was worth going after. She started saving money and applied a year later.
“I found out I got in the day after Thanksgiving,” she said. “I decided to make it happen rather than be stuck with something I wasn’t happy with for the long haul.”
Instead of leaving her communications work in Manhattan right away, she struck a compromise with her supervisors at work to leave early a couple days a week to attend part-time classes and work later on others.
She felt exhausted and stretched at times balancing part-time graduate school and a full-time job. It was tough to say no to plans with friends in the city to stay in to do homework most weekends. To keep her motivation up when she was struggling, she kept focusing on her long-term vision.
Her role started to change at work when she was given more responsibility over teams and projects. At the same time, her coursework became more challenging but also felt like more of a priority to her.
Following her path meant she would soon need to find work as an intern in the nutrition field, a competitive but necessary process, while still in school. Kelly felt the weight of her next choice: take an internship that would leave her income-less for a full year or keep working in public relations.
“It was one of the hardest decisions I had to make,” she said.
She knew she was headed in the right direction. She quit her agency job and entered the dietetic internship program, knowing it meant more loans and occasional part-time work.
“It was extremely tough to be limited financially in an expensive city, but I just had to keep my eyes on the prize and know things would work out in the end,” she said.
As her internship ended a year later, she faced a national exam required to be certified as a food and nutrition expert.
She passed. She would graduate in a few months and needed to find a job.
Kelly felt closer than ever to her goal. She knew she had to be very persistent in reaching out to her network. In connecting with others in the field, she landed a dietitian post at one of the top hospitals in the country, Mount Sinai, and graduated from NYU with a Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition this year.
“You could say I’m living the dream,” she said. “Every day is different and fulfilling, and I feel I can make a difference in the lives of others.”
She stays close to her passions through her work, side consulting projects, and by blogging about food, nutrition and running at Meals for Miles.
“I’ve actually met some of my closest friends and running buddies through the blog world,” she said.
Kelly is now training for her fifth marathon.
Her advice to quarterlettes thinking about innovating their careers?
“Go for it! I went back to school at 25 and become a Registered Dietitian at 30. I knew it would be a long journey, but I kept my long-term goals in mind when doubt crept in,” she said. “I know a lot of women, myself included, have had financial concerns about making this sort of move. My advice is the same: Go for it!”