Sarah: Eating Disorders Regional Outreach Representative

We all want a career where we make a difference and today’s Career Profile guest does just that! I have seen the effects of eating disorders first-hand and enjoyed learning more about what Sarah* does to help that population.

What is your job title? I am the regional outreach representative for a health and fitness program in my state. We provide a program for kids and young adults struggling with weight issues, food addiction and binge eating.

What is your general job description? My job is to reach out to professionals in the community (doctors, therapists, dietitians, etc.) to share information about our programs and help any of their patients. I also do community outreach, events and conferences.

What did you study in college? I went to college for business marketing and randomly got a masters in history because I was really interested in it.

How does your education relate to what you do at work? Not too much of what I went to school for really applies to my daily work. I got this job when I was in college, I started working in the mail room and now 11 years later I’m still here with a career. I got the job because I was friends with one of the executive’s daughters. I always tell everyone I know to use your connections. I truly believe it’s not what you know but who.

Was your degree the only path to get this job? I didn’t know anything about therapy, fitness or nutrition (my company’s cornerstones) when I started, but I learned it all along the way. Most of my coworkers are licensed professionals, I’m one of the few that isn’t. I have always paid attention and am a good listener and now I can talk as confidently on certain subjects as they can.

What are your plans for continuing in your profession/goals for advancement/where do you ultimately want to see yourself? I have no idea where I want to go, and I am ok with that for the next 5 years or so. I may go back to school later if it feels right, now it doesn’t.

What are some of the challenges of your job? Some of the challenges of my job are that it relies on me networking and connecting with people and while I’m good at that, I much prefer to be an introvert. It also means that I often have events in the evenings or on weekends, but right now that isn’t too much of a problem since my daughter isn’t in school yet.

What is rewarding about your career? I feel good about the work I do because I see kids and families when they leave our program and how much better they feel and the confidence they have. This is much more apparent and important to me now that I am a mother.

What benefits does your work offer in regards to maternity leave or family needs? I do struggle with some corporate aspects, I had no maternity leave and suffered a pay cut and demotion when I came back full-time. That was a huge blow to me and something I never saw coming, and has since changed my relationship with work. I am very much a 9-5 worker now, whereas before I went above and beyond the 40-hour work week. I think this has also helped me create a much better balance between work and home than I did before my daughter was born (silver lining). I am really blessed that I get to have a home office and a moderately flexible work schedule. My mom helps me and I am usually home with my daughter 2-3 days a week. I travel a couple of times a month and I can usually bring her with me, which can be fun to take her different places and visit with faraway friends and family. I work pretty independently which is nice because I like doing my own thing.

What advice do you have for other women who are pursuing this field? For other women entering the eating disorder world I would say finding balance is really important. I didn’t have it for years, I just wanted to help everyone and didn’t know how to shut off. It used to cause lots of arguments between my husband and I and I’m glad that now it’s easy for me to close my laptop and turn off my phone on the weekends and trust that my coworkers on call can handle anything.

*Guest’s name was changed due to the private nature of her work.

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