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A journey in becoming: How to find your side hustle [Interview with Shannon Thomison]

Shann Thomison

What does an average day in the life look like for you?

My day starts at 5:30 am. I try to meditate and pray before I start my day. Once that’s done, I get my two boys ready for school/daycare and drop them off.  I head back to my home office to review my schedule for the day in my planners. I begin working on my PhD coursework and my business developments and projects. This can consist of dissertation research, scheduling meetings for my businesses, researching things for my business, working on projects, or with developers.

What is your PhD about?

I am obtaining my PhD in Industrial Organizational Psychology at Adler University in Chicago. The Industrial Organizational Psychology field or (I/O) focus on the behavior of employees in the workplace and how those behaviors are based on their needs being met…or not being met/ I/O practitioners apply psychological principles and research methods to improve the overall work environment, including performance, communication, professional satisfaction and safety. Often, such observation followed by the application of psychological principles can improve team performance (American Psychology Association, 2014).  I/O psychologists use their knowledge of human behavior to identify such weaknesses and offer solutions. Using quantitative research and evaluation methods, they can uncover best practices within a company and teach people how to work “better” (American Psychology Association, 2014).

Tell us about yourself

I have over 10yrs of combined experience in the fields of  Organizational Development and Career Management. My passion lies within helping young adults and women develop themselves professionally by utilizing self-management solutions (being able to create habits that allow a person to become disciplined, motivated, and productive in their work environment) and career management planning.  When I am not working on my businesses or my PhD, I enjoy planning (using planners and journals from The Happy Planner, Simplified Planner, and Erin Condren; as well as making my own inserts and using inserts from Cloth and Paper) as a hobby, hanging with my husband, my boys, family, and friends. I’m a native Detroiter and a proud member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. 

What is your side hustle?

I am in the process of developing two businesses. The first one, The Annette Group LLC, is my career development and self-management consulting practice. I developed this company after being in the higher education sector of career development for over 5 years. My job was to work with adult learners and coach them in setting career goals, building their career plan, learning how to network, build their resumes, portfolios, and helping them build confidence in themselves to interview for positions in their fields. I was also charged with building relationships with the employers who would hire my students.  Many of the employers I worked with would ask me what they can do to help develop their employees and I would give them advice on this.  I saw that this was a trend and a need for organizations and individuals to professionally develop themselves and manage their time wisely. My practice assist small to mid-size organizations, individuals, and entrepreneurs in building career development and self-management solutions.

My other “baby” was developed because I found it difficult to find guided academic and professional development planner inserts for my planners. I found myself making the inserts and knew that if I am having issues with finding what I need for school and for my career development, others may be as well. I am in the process of developing planner inserts and stationary to fill that need. I named the company “A Journey In Becoming, LLC” after my Instagram handle. I believe that we all are on a journey searching for and becoming something that will help others in this world. We all feel that there is something missing from our lives and every day, we start s journey to search for it.

Why did you start your side hustle?

Clifford Clark, and old Highschool friend of mine talked about knowing or finding your passions and or gifts. He said (and I’m paraphrasing), “We find our passions and our gifts when we see there is something missing in the world and we (you) can provide a solution for it. We ask ourselves “how will we know what that thing is”? You will know what it is when you are so good at that thing that others who do not know you speak on how good you are, and people are willing to pay for to do that thing. That’s how you find your passions and gifts”. When I left my corporate career development counselor position in 2017, I was still being asked to assist employers, former students, and other career development counselors from the organization I left. I knew then I had to continue doing this work, but on my own terms. Plus, so many people mentored me into the professional I am today, I feel it’s an obligation to give this “gift” I have to others.

Do you suffer from impostor syndrome? How do you deal with it when it shows up?

I do. Personally, I struggle just like everyone else. I cry, I want to quit, I feel I am an imposter even with the years of experience I have. Every time I am asked about my businesses and the services I offer ( I’m literally scared and feeling this way as we speak!) When this does happen, I stop and pause for a moment and think about all of the students I helped obtain positions in their careers. I think about how many students I helped gain confidence in themselves to pursue other careers they wouldn’t have thought they could. And then, I think about how much I love doing what I’m doing and that its simply helping other people obtain the tools they need to reach the career goals they have set for themselves like others did for me. It’s scary (for me) having people come to me for guidance and support. But I know they wouldn’t if I didn’t know what I was doing. I am a spiritual person and every day that God wakes me up, is another day, I am given opportunities to get things right, to help another person, to be a better person, and to keep pushing and pursing my dreams. It is my obligation to leave a legacy for my family and other young women, especially those of color. 

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