What Do You Want To Do for a Living?


How one entrepreneur approached this universal question in pursuit of thriving

We love telling our members’ stories about their unique professional journeys. This is part one of a two-part series featuring Claire Baer, an entrepreneur and the professional development advisor for the PYP Board of Directors.

As the bartender in my hometown’s favorite restaurant, one day I looked at all the patrons and wondered: “How in the world did they decide what to do with themselves professionally?”  

I was a senior in college, only a few months until graduation, and I still didn’t know what I wanted to do next. 

All I knew was that I didn’t want to stay in the same place where I had grown up and lived in for 19 years. With a business degree and majors in advertising and marketing, I had an idea of what I wanted to do, but no clue how to get there or where I wanted to be.

Did I stay in state? Did I stay in the country? I was trapped by this overwhelming feeling.

I asked a regular, “How does everyone decide what they want to do for a living?” 

He responded with, “Some don’t. They just end up there. Others, they decide where they want to live  and then go from there.” 

It was as if the light bulb went off in my head. Ah ha! Step one. I had been struggling to find step one.

Figure out where you want to live, and then go from there.

I didn’t have an offer from some great company, I didn’t have an obvious next step — I only knew what I didn’t want.

I then narrowed it down, decided, jumped and landed in Denver, Colorado.

There I explored many, many different careers and industries. It wasn’t until I landed the job with the company of my dreams that I realized what I thought I had wanted was not at all what I wanted.

This place let us bring dogs to work, ride scooters from one side of the building to the other. It had a kitchen stocked with every snack you could imagine — and a snack request box!

Figure out where you want to live, and then go from there.

Despite all the great things about it, I was miserable. I couldn’t figure out why. Until I one day realized I hadn’t seen the sun in six hours. There were very few windows in this ginormous building. I was stationary, in one office or the next. It didn’t matter if I was sitting in the cool lounge, or the fancy boardroom — I felt trapped.

I started running every day at lunch. That seemed to help. I asked for networking opportunities to get out of the office. I eventually didn’t work at my desk. I moved from perch to perch around town or the monstrosity we called our office. Something still didn’t feel right.

This company preached a mantra of: “You must sell the truth of the product. If you don’t, then you can’t sell it.”

I took a good hard look at what I was doing and realized I didn’t connect with any of the brands we were representing. Realized everything in life is sales, so I had to figure out what I believed in and what were deal-breakers.

Eventually I came to terms with it. I realized that to be satisfied in my career, I need to own my own business, and the next challenge was in front of me again: where do I want to live?

Catch the rest of Claire’s story with part two on June 2