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Changing gears

Posted March 05, 2014 in Johnston

A generation or two ago, most working people had one career. A person might even stay with the same company throughout his or her entire working life. That scenario is rare nowadays, and people change jobs more frequently. Some even wear more than one career hat during their lives.

These area people made big moves in switching from one career to something completely different. They all agree though, even if at times it wasn’t easy, they’re all happier for it.

Entrepreneurial opportunity
Kirk Jordison graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in transportation logistics. He spent 21 years working in the field for large trucking companies like J.B. Hunt and Allied Van Lines, in addition to local companies like Barr-Nunn in Granger and Jacobson Companies in Des Moines.

Jordison began in operations but eventually moved to human resources and managed the recruiting side of the business where he was responsible for hiring drivers and employees. In the industry, employee turnover rate is about 150 percent, so it was a never-ending job.

Kirk Jordison spent 21 years in the transportation industry before deciding to open his own Anytime Fitness franchise.

Kirk Jordison spent 21 years in the transportation industry before deciding to open his own Anytime Fitness franchise.

“You had to figure out how to get the amount of employees or drivers you need at the lowest cost, so then I moved to marketing and helped from that side,” he says. “I loved what I did and made good money, and I had a lot to give back because I had been there so long — then this new opportunity came up.”

That new opportunity was the chance to own an Anytime Fitness franchise. Jordison decided to go for it, and he now has three locations in Johnston, Ankeny and Huxley.

“It was very scary at first,” he says. “But it’s been amazing. It’s totally different. Instead of working for someone, my wife and I own the business. I figured when I switched, ‘If it doesn’t work, I have 21 years of that experience, and I could always go back.’ But it’s been great.”

Jordison says he decided early on that if he were to ever own his own business, a franchise would be the way to go. His strength is in operations and sales, but he wanted someone else to put a proven model together for him to follow. He’s been happy with the success his locations have seen so far. In the last three years he’s owned the business, each location has seen an increase in membership.

“Now we want to continue to expand our franchise and find ones that are failing that I can turn around or find a market that can benefit from having an Anytime Fitness in their town,” he says. “I also want to help our current members meet their goals such as adding fitness classes and other perks to our existing locations.”

A special education
When Karma York graduated from college with a degree in psychology, she thought a career in counseling was for her. She was living in Pennsylvania, and she took a position as a case worker with a non-profit organization that had the goal of family preservation. She worked with families that were referred to the organization from the Department of Human Services where the kids were in danger of being moved to, or were already in, foster care. She helped the parents with housing and parenting with the goal being to get the children back home in a more stable environment.

Karma York teaches special education, and she says it’s the absolute right fit for her.

Karma York teaches special education, and she says it’s the absolute right fit for her.

“I did that for 7.5 years, and I enjoyed it, but I was ready to do something different,” she says. “It was emotionally trying, and it’s a hard thing to watch. It’s rewarding, too, but you burn out. I worked long hours, and I needed a change.”

York moved back to Iowa, but she still wasn’t quite sure what career path she wanted to take. She knew she wanted to work with kids, so she started looking for jobs in the school system, which led her to apply for an associate position at Johnston Middle School as a special education associate.

It didn’t take long for her to know that this was what she wanted to do next. She went back to school at Drake University, earned a master’s degree in education, and she’s now in her third year of instructing special education to eighth and ninth graders at JMS. The students are mostly level 1, which means they have learning disabilities, and a lot of the students are autistic. She also co-teaches two math classes, a special education math class and a lower-level small group math class.

“I am really happy,” she says. “It’s a really good fit for me. I still work with kids and their families, which is what I wanted. I just really enjoy it. It’s so rewarding, and it feels like this is where I belong.”

Making the grade
Like Karma York, Beaver Creek Elementary school teacher Diane Rosene also had another career led to teaching. But her initial foray into the job market was much different — and dangerous.

“When I worked for General Motors, I had an interesting job,” she says. “I did collections and repossessions. That was in the day when they didn’t have cell phones, and you really did go out by yourself, and it was kind of frightening. It’s not like you see on TV when the guy is covered with tattoos trying to take these cars. It’s a bit of a rush, but certainly different from teaching kindergarten.”

Rosene worked for General Motors in the finance department for 13 years. She says she started thinking about changing careers due to the instability in the company. She was concerned about restructuring and the fact that if she did stay, she might have to transfer to remain with the company.

Diane Rosene (back), with her elementary school class, says teaching was a big change from car repossession, but she’s glad she made the switch.

Diane Rosene (back), with her elementary school class, says teaching was a big change from car repossession, but she’s glad she made the switch.

“I also thought, ‘What will they say about me when I died? What mark am I going to leave?’ “ she says. “I observed a good friend who taught special education, and then I also observed a reading specialist, and I decided to pursue work in education so that when I die at least I’ll leave the world a little better place hopefully.”

She already had a bachelor’s degree from Drake University, so she went back to school to earn her master’s in education with a special education endorsement. She started teaching a half day each of kindergarten and special education, then two half days of kindergarten, then all day kindergarten, and now she teaches second grade.

For Rosene, teaching is rewarding. She says she loved kindergarten because there’s something “magical about when it clicks for a child, and they start to learn how to read.” The best thing, though, is she now feels that she’s where she belongs.

“I absolutely love what I do,” she says. “It’s so rewarding. The kids love you, and the parents love you. You don’t have to wait for the principal to say, ‘Good job,’ because the kids say that every day. They’ll tell you, ‘You’re the best teacher ever!’ In kindergarten that was the funniest because I’m their only teacher. It’s just a joyful job.”

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