Inspirational Women Who Successfully Transitioned Careers

These success stories show that you never quite know when a career transition is right around the corner
Ellen DeGeneres at a ceremony receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

If you’re feeling unfulfilled by your work, you’re no longer motivated and your engagement is plummeting, it may be that you’re in the wrong career.

This realization might be difficult to accept, especially if you’ve spent years of your life training and working towards a goal you thought was right for you. Accepting that what once made you happy is now making you frustrated or bored can be hard to come to terms with, but it’s better you act sooner rather than later. The only thing worse than being on the wrong career path is still being on that path in five years’ time.


Maybe you don’t know what career is right for you. Maybe you have an idea of what you want, but your newfound ambition seems like a pipedream. Thankfully, with the right orientation and career development, you’ll be able to get your future back on track. Below are just a few examples of inspirational women who have made a seismic career shift over the years. With the right career coaching and talent management, you could be in an entirely different and exciting industry a year from now.


1. Ellen DeGeneres: paralegal to comedian

Ellen DeGeneres is now a massively successful actor, comedian, writer, producer, and television host, but before she was introduced to comedy, she had a number of jobs. She was a waitress, a house painter, and a vacuum cleaner saleswoman. Degeneres was also a paralegal. She began doing some stand-up on the side and came to realize that making people laugh was her true calling. She began dedicating more time to her passion and it wasn’t long before her hard work paid off.


2. Whoopi Goldberg: mortuary beautician to actress

As a trained beautician, Goldberg once worked in a funeral parlor, putting makeup on the deceased. Goldberg has never complained about the job, once joking that it was great work because her customers never complained about how they looked. Goldberg transitioned into acting and had her big break in 1985. Since then, she has gone on to work in movies and TV shows such as Star Trek.


3. Vera Wang: competitive figure skater to bridal gown designer

Vera Wang began figure skating at the young age of eight, and she competed in the 1968 US Figure Skating Championships. She was successful with her skating, even being featured in Sports Illustrated's 1968 issue. When she failed to make the US Olympics team, Wang took a career one-eighty and entered the fashion industry. Wang now designs high-quality wedding dresses that have taken the world by storm.


4. Candace Nelson: investment banker to cupcake entrepreneur

In 2005, Nelson opened the very first cupcake bakery, Sprinkles Cupcakes, that has grown into a nationwide chain. In her first week of business, the store sold 2,000 cupcakes and its reputation grew from the fact that they used only the highest-quality ingredients.

Before opening the bakery, Nelson was a successful investment banker, but following the dot-com bust, Nelson re-evaluated her career path. Despite ten years in her chosen profession, Nelson decided to pursue her dream and cupcake obsession.


5.  Mayim Bialik: child actress to neuroscientist

The inspirational Mayim Bialik is a woman of many passions, and tends to flip between them. Rather than adhering to one strict career path, Bialik questions whether it is necessary, when two careers equally and perfectly complement different aspects of her personality.

Bialik grew up as a child actress in the hit show Blossom. During this time, a tutor got her interested in science, which led to Bialik pursuing a degree in Neuroscience. She is now a qualified neuroscientist and loves teaching this subject to others. In 2012, Bialik released a book about the science of hormone and parent-child bonding.

Bialik also has a passion for acting. She has managed to find a way to blend these two interests with her role in The Big Bang Theory. In this show, Bialik plays a neuroscientist, and is able to advise the crew on her subject area to keep the science as accurate as possible.

These women demonstrate that career development is not always clear-cut nor a linear progression. You might end up pursuing areas you never thought you’d consider. It is important to keep your mind open for learning and reassessing your passion throughout your career. Once you have a goal in sight, have the courage to make plans and steadfastly work at obtaining them.

To get the most out of your future and your career, join GRIT Point now. We can help with everything from job seeking to promotion advice, to successful onboarding. We're here to help you at every step.