Turning a Vocation into a Career

By Samantha Georgson

Successfully turning your talent into a prosperous career can be tricky. Owner and operator of Be Inspired Salon, Kati Whitledge, shares the story of her own professional progression, as well as a few helpful tips on turning your vocation into a full-time occupation.

EMBRACE THE “NON-TRADITIONAL” ROUTE

Once you’ve determined your dream career, sign up for classes that “really hone in on either that craft or that area that you want to be an expert in,” says Whitledge. While a traditional four-year education at a liberal arts university is no small feat, little can compare to the hands-on experiences offered at a technical college or trade school. “You can’t replace experience with education,” Whitledge says. “You have to get into a program that allows you those kinesthetic opportunities.”

KEEP EXPANDING YOUR EDUCATION

Education goes far beyond schooling. “We need to continue to invest in our own education,” Whitledge says. “For me, it’s never stopped. Since graduating from Madison College I have continuously gone to conferences, seminars, classes, events, anything that would help me stay ahead of the curve.” Whitledge lives by the saying: ‘leaders are readers,’ and is always picking up the latest reads on business-related subjects she’d like to learn. “I feel like I grow so much because of the books that I’m reading,” she says. “It’s important to be choosing books that help you advance yourself.”                               

GET YOUR NAME OUT THERE

Developing your talent is the first step, and selling your brand is the second. “There are many artists out there creating things that we’ll never see because they don’t know how to get it in front of us,” Whitledge emphasizes. When developing your brand, you have to figure out how you’re going to differentiate yourself. “That’s the marketing piece,” says Whitledge. Once you’ve made a presence for yourself, you’ll have room to grow and expand. “There’s something empowering in that,” she says. “It builds a tremendous amount of confidence.”