CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - "I got my dream job. I was living the high life. I got to work on Wall Street. I made it to the big time".
Valerie Burke describes her former job in the corporate world.
A place and time she's far removed from now.
Yet she's not alone.
Cleveland 19 brought fours strangers together to discuss the one thing they have in common: they all made career changes.
Laura Thomas was a marketer, who felt the unforgiving squeeze of a merger between two companies.
"I sort of saw the writing on the wall and was like, okay I'm just going to get out of here while I can."
Kortney Harmon was a local high school athletic director.
Despite her job being seemingly secure, she too had worries about her future.
"Initially the levy was on the ballot. It was potentially not being renewed. My job--Who knew it was going to be there?" she recalls thinking.
Mike Grzeskowiak, standing at a towering 6'6", decided football and doing loans wasn't for him. He says he wanted to make an impact in the world.
"I wanted to do something different where I could make a difference, something more."
So he became a nurse.
As much as his career turn may seem unusual, in this group it's actually quite normal.
Valerie is now a teacher at Perry Middle School and has redefined her idea of success.
"I had a mom approach me a few weeks ago and say 'my daughter had to write something for this online thing she's doing and she wrote about you--and what a caring person you are and what an impact you make.' It just depends how you measure that success."
Kortney is now an IT recruiter, and loves what she does.
She admits, there were a lot of challenges along the way.
"Trying to understand the cloud, and Azure and O-365 and everything changing and what's going on in Sharepoint versus what version. I think it is a constant learning."
She details the laundry list of office-based applications she never worried about as an A.D.
Laura was actually able to use some of her marketing skills in her new career as a physical trainer.
"Being in front of leads and prospects and networking, things like that. Fortunately, I cross my fingers, have a pretty good network".
We asked them for their advice to others considering making career changes.
They all agreed having a plan, and not rushing was critical to laying a foundation.
They also pointed out that having a solid support group, be it a spouse or family, was instrumental as they went through tough times.
Finally, the group said that it's okay for people to be inspired—and that may be the most important trait of all.