Rebounding from Rejections with Octavia Goredema: PREP, PUSH, PIVOT: Essential Career Strategies


By Rashida Ashley


Looking back from about two years ago, things have definitely shifted. Many of us have lost our jobs, switched careers, are waiting on a promotion or are still looking for jobs. The search for an occupation can be a daunting experience. Especially if you don’t have someone to turn to for advice on how to move forward in your career path. Luckily there is a way to remedy this.


If you don’t have someone in your immediate circle to guide you there is always the option of having a career coach. It is the responsibility of a career coach to help identify professional goals, plan career moves and help address and find solutions for any questions you may have. It is career coaches like Octavia Goredema that help to prioritize your well being and health, especially for women of color, in order to know your worth and pay it forward.


Octavia Goredema is not only a career coach but also the author of PREP, PUSH, PIVOT: Essential Career Strategies for Underrepresented Women and founder of Twenty Ten Agency where she has coached leaders in well known companies such as Google, Tinder and Nike. With a commitment to helping underrepresented professionals reach their career goals she teaches and challenges the notion that you don’t have to work twice as hard as everyone else to get ahead.


One of the obstacles associated with overcoming a setback is navigating through the feeling of rejection and being rejected from sought-after positions. As a career coach, how have you coached your clients to conquer this feeling and occurrence?

Setbacks are so hard. I totally get it when someone is struggling to find a way through. Our careers are personal. Our goals matter. When you want something and it’s not happening for you it hurts. It’s hard to have perspective in the moment. As a coach, I encourage anyone dealing with rejection to not allow it to throw you off completely. It can be easy to spiral and to start to question your abilities and even begin to question if you should be doing what you’re trying to do.


Feel the feelings, but then dig in deeper. If it hurts it’s because it matters and if it matters you’ve got to keep going. What I’ve learned from my own personal experiences, and from coaching others, is that every “no” will get you close to a “yes.” You might not know when you’ll get what you want, but it’s important to keep moving and to keep taking steps, even if they’re baby ones, to get closer to what you really want.


What are the biggest mistakes people often make when pivoting to a different career path? One thing I witness a lot from people who are pivoting is the emphasis they put on finally making it by securing the new role or opportunity. In truth, the real work is done before, when you make the decision to reach for something new, and after, when you’re adjusting and growing into your next phase.


It’s easy to underestimate your achievements while you’re trying to pivot and easy to underestimate the support you will need after you achieve your goal. Every single step you take along the way should be recognized, as pivots are journeys and you’ll be learning and growing from the get-go.


What are the factors that impact a successful career transition?

Confidence, connections, creativity, and commitment. We may not feel like we have all those attributes locked down when we need them. Confidence can ebb and flow. We may feel like we’re starting over when it comes to connections. We may feel like we don’t know what we’re doing, and it might be hard to keep pushing through tough times. It’s important to make peace with the fact that careers are rarely neat, things can get complicated, hard, and messy, even when we’re pursuing a path we really want.


What are the forces that often prevent a rapid career transition? How would an individual surmount these forces?

I think fear is a major factor. Making a rapid change can be scary. You may feel like you’re losing a safety net to reach for something new. In those moments it can be helpful to reflect on times in the past when you’ve handled a sudden change. That doesn’t have to just relate to your career. It can involve any time in your past when something sudden happened that impacted you. How did you handle it? What did you learn from it? What happened afterwards? When you reflect on those moments, you’ll realize you’ve handled change in the past and you can do it again. It might be different, but you can do it.


Often times when making a career change an individual has no experience, education, certification, training, or contacts for their most desired field choice. What advice do you have for someone who sees a job opening for the career of their dreams who don’t meet those qualifications?

You have nothing to lose by applying for a role and amplifying transferable skills. But as you apply for roles, think about additional things you can do that could propel you forwards. Are there books you could read about your desired field? Are there industry podcasts or blogs you could subscribe to? Are there virtual events or conferences or workshops you could attend? Do people you know have connections within the field you want to be in?

Immersing yourself with as much as possible will help you learn, absorb and connect with others who may be able to help you in ways you just don’t know. The inspiration alone is priceless, and you’ll be able to authentically demonstrate your passion for the area you want to be in when you do have job interviews or conversations with people who may be able to help.


As you wrote your book, Prep, Push, Pivot: Essential Career Strategies for Underrepresented Women, you had to balance being a mother to two wonderful young daughters while focusing on a valuable project for millions of underrepresented women. How did you balance your responsibilities and stay motivated to complete your work?

Thank you for asking! My book is dedicated to my daughters and they were at home with me while I was writing it. My girls were doing Zoom school for almost a year due to the pandemic. Their resilience and positivity in the middle of so much change made me realize I could do what I needed to do for my manuscript.


Being a parent raises the stakes. You have less time, but I believe I use that time much more effectively than I would if I wasn’t a parent. I had to prioritize what mattered most at the moment and let go of the things that didn’t. Being a mom motivates me to do my best, I want to make my girls as proud of me as I am of them.

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