On Taking Advice From Hermit Crabs and Embracing Change

I recently learned that a hermit crab self-selects its shells, living in one until it's outgrown then then goes off looking for a bigger one. I have never been a fan of these creatures that were deemed acceptable as pets when I was a child, but I find this information fascinating.

It’s a powerful life lesson when you really think about it. A hermit crab spends a lifetime repeating this process. Yet how many times in our lives do we consciously leave our outgrown shells, step out on faith and search for a new, better suited shell?

It’s something that I have been reflecting on for a while, and my time to step out of my current shell has finally come.

On Friday, March 18th I sent HR my two weeks notice. I’ve been offered an amazing opportunity to be a 2010/2011 Inspire Fellow working at the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO), and the timing couldn’t be more perfect.

The Inspire Fellowship is the flagship program of ProInspire that recruits business professionals with 2+ years of experience and places them in local nonprofits. On April 4th I start my first day at AEO, a national membership organization and the voice of microenterprise development in the United States. There I’ll be working on a strategic initiative that supports organizations that serve low-wealth entrepreneurs.

Over the last few years I’ve slowly fallen in love with microfinance. As someone who studied international business and concentrated in finance in college, I’ve been intrigued by how finance can be used to empower women and their families as well as build communities. Needless to say I’m extremely excited about the opportunity to take my academic and professional background in finance and combine it with my experience assessing business models and developing /implementing strategies for organizations.

To be honest with you my decision to leave my firm to pursue this opportunity both excites and terrifies me at the same time; but I feel empowered by Rosetta Thurman’s motto "Fear means go."

I recognize that my fear stems from the fact that this role will be the complete opposite of everything I’ve grown to know working at the largest professional services firm in the world. The prestige of the name, the unbelievable access to resources, a management structure that mitigates the risk of failure by junior staff, etc… I’m leaving it all behind to learn a new industry as well as a new sector, work in an organization that's smaller than most project teams at my firm, and – most of all – to manage an amazing initiative on my own. Again, both exciting and terrifying!

My professional experiences thus far have been more valuable than I could've imagined when I signed my offer letter. I'm confident that the last two and a half years have been provided a solid foundation for me to continue to build my career on. The network I’ve built and the mentors I’ve gained along the way are incredible. I've also had my fair share of trying times that truly tested and built my character.

I wouldn’t trade the ups and downs of this journey for the world. Nonetheless I’m ready for a change, and I’ve found a new shell that’s just the right size. I'm embracing this transition wholeheartedly and looking forward to entering this new phase of my life!