HOW I GOT TO WHERE I AM TODAY - AN INTERVIEW WITH ALEX HAILEY
By day, Alex Hailey is a sales consultant that works with communities in California to design unique and exciting play spaces for children and families to enjoy.
By night and weekend, she is a lifestyle blogger sharing things from all aspects of her life as a twenty-something female living in the 21st century.
DID YOU ALWAYS WANT TO GO INTO YOUR CHOSEN CAREER?
Like most kids, I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life! At age 4 I wanted to deliver babies, but then I found out what that entailed and that was out pretty much immediately. Then I wanted to be a stay at home mom; then a nurse; then teacher…clearly I wasn’t that committed to any of these things since I’m not doing any of them now. What I realised though, was that there was a common thread among all of these potential career choices I had entertained over the years: kids. I knew that I enjoyed working with and for children to provide them with a more successful and happy childhood, and that ideally whatever I ended up doing would be in that field somehow. Designing and selling playgrounds never entered my mind as something I wanted to get into, but I’m so glad I did, because it provides me with the challenges and rewards that I wanted from my career.
WHEN DID YOU START TO DEVELOP A PASSION FOR WHAT YOU CURRENTLY DO?
I would have to say that I really became excited about building play spaces for children when my first big project was installed. After working closely with teachers and PTA members for many months, it was incredibly rewarding to see the fruits of our labor being enjoyed by hundreds of elementary school children. After that I was hooked.
WHAT WERE YOU LIKE AT SCHOOL? DID YOU ENJOY IT? WHAT WERE YOUR FAVOURITE SUBJECTS?
I’ll let you in on a small secret…I’m kind of a nerd. But not really the glasses and braces kind, though I did have both. I was always blessed to be naturally really good at school and doing well came easy to me. An avid reader, in elementary school I read almost every novel that my school library had on its shelves. I enjoyed writing and reading, so English was always my favourite class.
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT? DID YOU GO TO UNIVERSITY OR STRAIGHT INTO WORK?
After high school, I went into our local Junior College for two years before transferring to the nearby state university. While in college, I worked several jobs and (probably not advisably) put a lot more time and effort into my career while I was in college than I did my studies. I recently did a lot of reflecting on this choice on my blog and how it put me where I am today.
HOW DID YOU GET YOUR FIRST EXPERIENCE WITHIN YOUR CHOSEN FIELD?
My parents always told me that in this world “it’s who you know” not “what” you know. And growing up I HATED that idea. I wanted where I got in the world to be based on my skills and personal accomplishments and not to be based on the privilege of knowing someone who was in a position to help me. But, as you have likely guessed, I completely stumbled into my field based on who I know. In this case, it was my mom who asked me to help do some basic intern work at her company. The rest is history.
WHAT PATH DID YOU TAKE TO GET TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW?
The path I took was mostly one that fate seemed to lay out for me, but that required me to say “yes” and work hard. I put myself out there in my company and took on roles that would typically be given to much more senior employees, because I was willing to help out when asked and to try to find creative solutions to make my company more successful.
WHEN DO YOU THINK YOU GOT A BREAKTHROUGH WITH YOUR CAREER?
Oddly enough, my biggest career breakthrough came when I turned in my notice. After almost four years with this company, I felt that my role wasn’t heading in the direction that I wanted and that it might be time for me to branch out and start over somewhere new. This was the turning point for me and resulted in a position being created for me that perfectly fits my skill-set and provides the things I was looking for in terms of salary, flexibility and responsibility.
WHAT'S BEEN THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE IN YOUR CAREER SO FAR?
My biggest challenge is what led me to my biggest breakthrough. At the time I wouldn’t have recognised this, but looking back I know that my biggest challenge was ME. I put in a lot of extra hours that no one asked me to. I felt as though I was undervalued, but never spoke up for myself. I carried the weight of decisions that were not mine to make. I let my job become my life and it consumed me.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS YOUR BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT?
In my career my biggest achievement is finding a solid work-life balance. It’s not every day and it’s not always even, but overall I find that I am able to enjoy both my work and my life in a way that leaves me overall much more fulfilled. I’m able to spend time with my family, go away for a long weekend, spend time blogging and being creative, and still do my job really well.
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF AND YOUR CAREER GOING IN THE FUTURE?
My future is wide open. I’m young, moderately successful and have my whole life open to me and I’m excited about what the future holds. I don't have any plans for a career change and hope to make my mark in the playground industry for a while to come. I am now focusing on finding ways to fill any needs I have that my job does not fulfil with other things. One of my main projects is my new blog, Lifestyle’91, which I’m using as an outlet to share the parts of my life and my skills that I don’t get to showcase at work.
IF YOU COULD SHARE THREE OF YOUR BIGGEST LIFE LESSONS WITH ABOH READERS, WHAT WOULD THEY BE?
- Don’t be afraid to say “yes” and don’t be afraid to say “no.” Big decisions, small decisions and all of the things in the middle - take your time before committing.
- No matter how much you love what you do, if you aren’t getting what you need out of it, eventually your passion will flame out.
- Always be nice, professional and respectful - you never know who is watching and what they might be able to do for you in the future.
*Bonus Life Lesson: Get a dog! My furry best friend Carl (@carl.the.dog on Instagram) gave me a reason to always get home on time after work, gets me outside to be more active (only a little…he is a lazy french bulldog after all), keeps my feet warm under my desk when I’m doing some late night blogging, and is always on my team making me feel like I can do anything. Yup…all that from a dog.
Let's chat in the comments - did you enjoy this interview with Alex? What other questions do you have for her?