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Coaching Led a New ithrive31® Team Member To Follow Her Passions

Hello! I am Monica Converse, the new head of operations, and I am excited to be part of the growing ithrive31® team. I would like to take a moment and share a little bit about myself and the personal impact ithrive31 coaching had for me.

Finding a Career Direction—at 18

Before diving in, I have a question for you: Do you really know what you want to do professionally in your life? I have always thought it was a bit unfair that as an 18-year-old, you are expected to choose a career or college major that sets the trajectory for the rest of your life.

I grew up in rural northeast Iowa with my parents and three younger sisters. I had a great childhood but with a somewhat limited view of the world and its endless opportunities. After spending many years as a kid building elaborate LEGO structures and perfecting the design of my “dream house” on computer software programs, I naturally thought Oh, I should be an architect!

I chose to attend Iowa State University. Well, after a year, I realized the very demanding five-year program was not going to ensure me a job due to the tough job market for architects at the time (and that I really, truly, could not draw or sketch to save my life!). I decided to switch my major to civil engineering, a seemingly more stable career choice (and one that required limited drawing capabilities) that would still allow me to work with architects designing cool things!

Seeking Career Growth and Satisfaction

Fast-forward to post-college graduation. I had the honor to work for almost 14 years with a well-established and respected design consulting firm that employed both engineers and architects. I did exactly what I set out to do: design cool things!

However, I realized midway through my career that, while designing cool stuff was fun, it was not completely satisfying. I felt I had evolved as a professional and wanted to feel like I was making a direct and positive impact on other people. Building relationships with clients and coworkers, collaborating with others to solve problems, evolving workplace culture, and helping others grow through mentoring and coaching really got me excited.

I spent the second half of my career as a civil engineer trying to find ways to bring this energy to the workplace, but ultimately, it is an extremely challenging feat when you and your team are too busy doing the actual project work of designing cool things. I spent many years rationalizing why I should stay (because that is what engineers do; we are rational people), but deep down in my gut, I knew I needed a change. I was burnt out and at a loss of where to go next professionally.

Reaching Out for Coaching (Thanks, Pandemic!)

2020 was a year of soul searching for me. I guess a worldwide pandemic will finally force you to do that! I was ready to live life more intentionally and not feel like I was going through the motions.

One of my younger (and often wiser) sisters had always spoken highly of professional coaching, so I began looking into that. I needed a complete outsider’s opinion to help me sort through all my thoughts—somebody besides my husband, that is.

I recalled participating in an impactful group workshop with Dorene in 2019, and I really connected with her. I got back in touch and sought Dorene out for professional one-on-one coaching. Little did I know that this step would begin my experience with ithrive31!

Revealing My Passion: My Journey with Professional Coaching

In the beginning, the majority of our one-on-one coaching sessions were focused on working toward achieving a professional goal in my engineering role at the time. Much momentum was made toward achieving that goal, but ultimately, after expending lots of mental energy and holding many tough conversations, I came to the realization that even if I were to achieve my goal, it still was not going to fill my cup and align with my passions or values. As our sessions progressed, Dorene helped me establish a mental deadline for when it was time to focus my energy on new opportunities.

After experiencing the power of one-on-one coaching, I eagerly signed up to participate in an ithrive31 group coaching session focused on women in engineering in late 2020. The highlight of that experience was connecting with other women who were also going through professional challenges in the engineering industry and learning about how to lean into and follow our good energy. This good energy led me to seek a completely new career trajectory that focused on helping people. I just was not sure what that exactly was or how to go about switching gears.

And so, the conversations with Dorene continued. She helped me take the seemingly overwhelming task of pivoting my career into smaller, bite-size tasks that could be easily done 31 days (or one month) at a time. She also assured me that what I was going through was completely normal midway through my professional career, which was reassuring to a person like me who likes to rationalize and justify everything. Apparently, it is common to realize at some point in your career that what you have always been good at may not align with what you are passionate about—and that is OK.

Making a Leap: Coaching’s Ongoing Impact

Through these conversations, I learned about Dorene’s big vision and goals for her company, and she offered me a job, recognizing she was going to need additional business support. I am thrilled that our paths crossed so I can be part of this exciting journey!

Having been through the professional coaching experience, I know how transformative and impactful it can be, and that is right in line with what I have been seeking for so many years. If any of my story resonates with you, I encourage you to reach out to me at I’d love to connect!

Making this leap has been one of the hardest yet most courageous things I have ever done. I feel extremely proud of my decision to pursue my passion. Life is simply too short not to!

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