Posted in Ongoing Journey

The First Steps in My Transition – Career Change From Finance to Early Childhood Education

The prospect of going from a financial role to the ribbon cutting at my own Nursery School is thrilling and daunting.  I am of the ‘immediate gratification generation’ and so of course I would like this done yesterday.  Despite my impatience, I have tried to be as thorough and strategic as possible while diving head first into the world of early childhood education.

For the record, I have captured some of my early steps as I begin the shift. 

The idea of opening my Nursery School is a discussion that I have been having for years.  Many of my friends and family were aware of my long-term intentions.  As the time is now, I have reached out further into my circle of friends, acquaintances and my network to discuss my ideas.  The amount of ideas, contacts and opportunity that is available in our very own circles will never cease to amaze me.  I will discuss some of these connections as well as my first steps. 

1.) Telling the World – At the point the decision was made I began reaching out to my network.  The excitement, ideas and contacts that came from these conversations were invaluable.  It is also a strategy to now have ‘the world’ holding me accountable.

2.)  Reaching out to my professors from undergrad university – I attended West Virginia University and received an undergraduate degree in Child Development Family Studies (http://www.wvu.edu/majors/flyer.cfm?id=109.)  During that time my practicum course was spent at the WVU Nursery School.  I reached out to my professor (13 years later) to speak about my intentions and ask for guidance from someone running a succesful school.  We discussed joining the National Association for the Education of Young Children or NAEYC (http://www.naeyc.org/) for network and up to date research.  She spoke about changes in state policies to look for including state sponsored nursery school and we discussed which degree would best prepare me for the road ahead. 

3.)  Signing up for the NAEYC – This organization, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (http://www.naeyc.org/) is the largest organization in the world working on behalf of young children.  There is a focus on development and education.  Through the organization I have started receiving periodicals including ‘Young Children’ and ‘Early Childhood Research Quarterly.’  In addition, I was able to purchase books in areas I need to strengthen my knowledge including the ‘Handbook for Early Childhood Administrators,’ ‘Reachind Standards and Beyond in Kindergarten,’ ‘Managing Money – A Center Director’s Guidebook’ and ‘Anti-Bias Education for Young Children and Ourselves.”

4.)  Looking at Schools in NYC – I have looked at programs online periodically for years.  I have since attended information sessions for the Early Childhood Education program at the Steinhart School at NYU, the information session and tour at Bank Street College (http://www.bankstreet.edu/aboutbsc/) and met with an advisor at Hunter College.  I am most excited by the program at Bank Street and am eager to apply.

5.) Talking with current students and former students – In doing research on the schools and discussing it with my network, I discovered I knew or my friends knew many people who attended these programs.  I was able to meet with these individuals to speak about their experience at school, likes and dislikes, quality of the programs and what to expect.  I met with former and current graduates of Bank Street College at Little Sisters in Harlem.  I met with a former grad of Bank Street College that is now an assistant Vice Principal.  I spoke with a friend of mine who was a former graduate of the NYU program.  I also discussed the schools and their reputations with board contacts of mine from Children of Bellevue within Bellevue Hospital and NYU Hospital.  Since it has been 13 years since I was in school these discussions were helpful on so many levels for me.

6.) Visiting Nursery School – During out honeymoon, we met a couple from NYC.  We have become friends back in NYC as well.  She is a head teacher at a Montessori School.  She invited me to observe her class.  This was one of the best things I did.  I left with such excitement for what lies ahead I had tears in my eyes.  It was great to see a current program, how the day is run, what is available to the children and what parents expect from a quality program.

7.) Working with a business coach – Throughout my career, I have been a big believer in continuing my education.  I have taken business practice management courses such as Strategic Coach and Mission Control.  I am continuing a monthly call with a Mission Control Coach, Todd Benton (http://www.bentoncg.com/Home_Page.html)  It is a great source of knowledge, business practice skills, cross-pollination of ideas from other industries and a forum to hold me accountable.

8.) Business Lunch – A friend of mine, successful in her first career is in the midst of a similar change, the transition from one career to something completely different.  We have committed to a monthly lunch to keep each other posted, to share ideas and again to hold each other accountable.  Our first commitment is to write first drafts of business plans, for her to think about writing a blog and for me to complete my Grad School application.

9.) Social Networking – This is the way of the world!  People are extremely tech savvy and get information from the web.  I worked with my research dept (Dad) to set up a webpage through www.NetworkSolutions.com  (www.fromhedgefundstohighchairs.com) and a blog utilizing www.wordpress.com (www.fromhedgefundstohighchairs.wordpress.com) It has been a great outlet for my ideas, for the research I come across and a way to communicate with parents of young children before my school is open.

10.) Ongoing Research for myself and for my writing – As I mentioned earlier I now receive periodicals, have ordered books and am constantly reviewing research online.  Once I apply, get accepted and start class, I will be refreshing my knowledge, learning more and doing observation and research. 

11.) Apply to the school of my choice  – I need to sit down and write my application!!!!

This list is bound to grow and change and as it does I will continue to keep you updated!  Perhaps, when complete, this can serve as a map or guide to others that stand before the long and exciting road to their dreams.

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