Secrets of Women Who Love Their Jobs

What do the food truck owner, emergency radio dispatcher and music professor have in common? They all love what they do! Find out what it takes to get a kick-butt career like theirs

From the owner of a travel agency to a technology executive, women in a range of careers tell iVillage what makes them happy at work and how they found a career they love.

Jenny Cheifetz, 37, Owner of Gone Baking

Jenny Cheifetz, 37, Owner of Gone Baking

Jenny Cheifetz

What do you love most about your job?  

I love the creativity and flexibility! I get to design the flavors, colors, decorations, menu offerings and type of events I work. And I get to choose when and how much I work, which allows me to work really hard some of the time, but also fit in school performances and family emergencies.

How did you get into this line of work?

I’ve been baking for well over a decade, originally just for friends and family, for fun. But through the encouragement of those people, I took the plunge and made a business out if it. First I focused on custom orders through an online business. Then I decided to go ahead and buy a van and hit the road on a regular basis.

What advice would you give someone who wants to do what you do?  

Patience and persistence are essential for pursuing a dream. It’s also really important to talk through details with family so everyone is supportive. And make sure you do your research!

Describe a typical day at your job.  

Make necessary frostings for the cupcakes I baked the night before. Bake fresh cookies at the same time. Frost and decorate cupcakes. Package up all supplies and load in the van. Make sure I have essential items such as cash box, phone, cold waters, labels, boxes, gloves, napkins and trays. Hit the road for a couple hours. Then put on mom/wife hat and do carpool, make dinner, help with homework and go through bedtime routine. Then it’s back to the kitchen to bake the cupcakes and make the cookie dough that needs to rest in freezer until morning. 

 

Linda Schuyler, 65, CEO, Epitome Pictures Inc. and Executive Producer of Degrassi

Linda Schuyler, 65, CEO, Epitome Pictures Inc. and Executive Producer of Degrassi

Linda Schuyler

What do you love most about your job?

I love working with people that range in age from 12 to 60. It’s great to tell stories and produce material with a diverse group of people who are all working towards a single vision.

How did you get into this line of work?

I was a school teacher for eight years. When I became frustrated with the lack of audio-visual materials for teens I decided that I needed to take matters into my own hands and make them myself.

What advice would you give someone who wants to do what you do?

Be passionate about the stories that you want to tell.

Describe a typical day at your job.

No day is typical, they are all different. It always involves balancing the creative and business sides. If I’m not meeting with the writers, in editing, overseeing what’s being shot on the floor or reading scripts and network notes, I am signing checks and looking over cost reports. This is just the beginning of what a day could involve.

 

Tina Petretti, 39, Emergency Radio Dispatcher, St. Petersburg Police

Tina Petretti, 39, Emergency Radio Dispatcher, St. Petersburg Police

Tina Petretti

What do you love most about your job?

My job can be very rewarding. People call 911 during the scariest moments of their lives looking for help and comfort. This is what we offer. My position is mainly working the police radio and sending help where needed. While I may go through the same motions every day, it’s never for the same reason. Officers can come up screaming for help and there I am, remaining calm and doing what needs to be done. At the end of the day, I feel like I made a difference in someone’s life, whether it's an officer on the street or citizen calling in.

How did you get into this line of work?

I got into this field kind of as a joke. My father said he found the perfect job for me, a job where I could talk on the phone all day! To please him, I took the county test for the position. Turned out, it was better than I thought it would be and I ended up really loving it!

What advice would you give someone who wants to do what you do?

This is not a career for everyone. We deal with life and death situations everyday and we cannot get emotional, we have to remain calm and in control. It is very fast paced and stressful but if you can handle it, it can very extremely rewarding.

Describe a typical day at your job.

I am assigned a specific radio channel for the day and will be responsible for all the emergency personnel assigned to my channel. It’s my job to choose who goes to what call for service, to ensure the officers safety, to handle requests, copy traffic stops, send additional units when things get crazy, be in constant communication with other dispatchers and to remain calm and in control.

 

Michal Finegold, 34, Visual effects technical director for TV commercials and films such as Happy Feet Two and Captain America: The First Avenger

 The First Avenge

Michal Finegold

What do you love most about your job?

I love being able to combine both my technical and artistic abilities. I also love the variety of fantastic people I get to meet and work with. And seeing my name in film credits or my work on TV is fun as well.

How did you get into this line of work?

My husband suggested it! I was a software engineer and wanted to expand into something more creative. My husband suggested CG and the rest is history.

What advice would you give someone who wants to do what you do?

Only do it if you love it. It is very hard work. And don’t take critiques personally.

Describe a typical day at your job.

Get to work, check last night’s renders (an image the computer produces) and try not to freak out. Go to dailies to get my work critiqued. Take lunch break to draw something or play a musical instrument to de-stress. Implement requested improvements and render my shot again.

 

Lisa Curnuck, 38, Owner of As You Wish Vacations, a Disney-niche travel agency

Lisa Curnuck, 38, Owner of As You Wish Vacations, a Disney-niche travel agency

Lisa Curnuck

What do you love most about your job?

The unique thing about this job is that it doesn’t feel like work.  I truly enjoy booking trips for my clients and living vicariously through them. I love to hear their feedback when they return. They often tell me they had the best time of their lives, and knowing that I was instrumental in that is very rewarding.

How did you get into this line of work?

Having taken many vacations centered around Disney, I was already somewhat of an expert when I met my former boss who owned a Disney-niche agency. She invited me to join her team, and I learned the ropes. I was promoted to manager within a few years. When it was time to move on and become my own boss, I teamed up with a like-minded gal whom I have a lot of respect for and trust in. We are now co-owners of our own agency and loving every minute of it.

What advice would you give someone who wants to do what you do?  

Don’t be scared of change. Challenge yourself! As the great Walt Disney himself once said, “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”  You really just need to find what makes you happy and then think of how to market that.

Describe a typical day at your job.

Well, thanks to the internet, this is a home-based business... so my day is spent managing clients’ needs from my home office.  Various daily activities include preparing vacation quotes for potential new clients, researching crowd calendars and park hours to come up with itineraries, booking dining reservations, preparing care packages to send off, ordering surprise goodies to be delivered to clients while on their trip…

 

Jenny Ricciardi, 40, Co-president and Owner of Interior Garden Services, Inc.

Jenny Ricciardi, 40, Co-president and Owner of Interior Garden Services, Inc.

Jenny Ricciardi

What do you love most about your job?

It uses more different skills than any other job I’ve ever had; every day I learn something new; and over a million people walk through my jobs every week, so every day I have the opportunity to make a small difference in all their lives!  

How did you get into this line of work?

My mom started the company 40 years ago. When I had my daughter I needed a part-time job, and she needed an Ops Manager, so I applied for the job. A few months later she said she wanted to retire. Either she could sell the company to me or someone else. I had six months to decide. Turns out I loved the job more than I ever imagined I would, so I bought it from her.  

What advice would you give someone who wants to do what you do?

Find a company that does what you want to do, call them and get experience. Take them to lunch. Ask them questions. Do part-time work for them and make yourself invaluable so they have to hire you.

Describe a typical day at your job.

There is no typical day. In any given day I’ll be: designing an exterior landscape for a retail store on Michigan Avenue, writing contracts, managing employees, researching the newest green wall technology for a potential interior client, analyzing financials and putting together an orchid bowl for a client gift.  

 

Meryl Sole, 35, Adjunct Professor of Music

Meryl Sole, 35, Adjunct Professor of Music

Meryl Sole

What do you love most about your job?

I love sharing music with self-described non-musicians and watching them make and experience music in ways that they did not think they could.

How did you get into this line of work?

By accident! While living in NYC and trying to freelance as a performer, I took a teaching gig and fell in love.

What advice would you give someone who wants to do what you do?

If you teach with passion and put your students first, you have the best chance of helping your students be creative and learn.

Describe a typical day at your job.

Arrive at the college, grab coffee with colleagues, work on lesson plans, grade assignments, meet with students and get into the classroom to make some music and talk about what I love most.

 

Danielle Koffer, 38, Managing Director Client Leadership (Advertising – Media Planning and Buying)

Danielle Koffer, 38, Managing Director Client Leadership (Advertising – Media Planning and Buying)

Danielle Koffer

 

What do you love most about your job?

It provides the perfect balance of business acumen and creativity. It satisfies both left and right brain needs. It’s part business science and part imagination. People who like to flow between the world of business and numbers and creativity and ideas are coveted in this role.

How did you get into this line of work?

I am embarrassed to admit it, but I am in my current career because of a really bad case of puppy love. I met an English guy while studying abroad in London my senior year in college. I had it so bad, I rushed to sign up for a grad school program back in London. The relationship didn’t go that far but thankfully the career faired much better.

What advice would you give someone who wants to do what you do?

You work hard, you play hard. It takes a few years in the business to really start to like it. The first years are full of grunt work -- the digital world is full of data processing. When you start getting your hands on your client’s business and start building strategic plans that get executed and drive business, it’s such a rush.

Describe a typical day at your job.

Every day is so different. That’s why I love what I do. One day I can be in London pitching a new piece of business and the next day in NYC sitting around a table with my inter-agency marketing team brainstorming big ideas for a new product launch. It’s great job for someone who has a touch of ADD.

Kerry Cubas, 55, Principal at The Job Warrior

Kerry Cubas, 55, Principal at The Job Warrior

Kerry Cubas

What do you love most about your job?

The Job Warrior is a Job Search Consulting Firm offering career counseling, resume writing, interview coaching, job search strategy and personal branding. I am a change agent. In this economy, not only are excellent people out of work, many also need to rethink their careers and rebrand themselves. I enjoy the process of provocative analysis yielding creative yet pragmatic solutions, delivered in a manner to foster my client’s self-esteem. I love directing clients from hopelessness to success.

How did you get into this line of work?

I launched my firm in response to precisely what many of my clients are challenged with -- job loss and career change.

What advice would you give someone who wants to do what you do?

Successful entry into this field demands a keen ability to deconstruct a client’s situation into career components and analyze that information both incrementally and holistically. That then combines with strategic planning and the audacity to construct a new vision.

Describe a typical day at your job.

Thankfully, there is no typical day at my job. Each of my clients has a unique situation with specific needs, and a solo-preneur functions in myriad capacities.

 

Cheryl Flaherty, 38, Director, Application Development

Cheryl Flaherty, 38, Director, Application Development

Cheryl Flaherty

What do you love most about your job?

I’m responsible for implementing a new membership and billing system at a healthcare company, which will support healthcare reform legislation and enroll individuals in healthcare insurance. I love that there is always a challenge, a difficult problem to solve.  I also love that I’m working on something so important to my company, and I work with an amazing group of people.

How did you get into this line of work?    

I wanted to find a way to combine business and healthcare, so majored in Health Systems Management and MIS.  My first job was with a big consulting firm right out of college. I found a way to work in health care, and use my business degree.  

What advice would you give someone who wants to do what you do?  

Study hard, work hard, focus, think outside of the box and learn the fundamentals of systems delivery! Also, be true to yourself. Make sure that whatever you decide to do for a career, that you are happy doing it.

Describe a typical day at your job:  

I meet with my managers to get a status update.  I then meet with my business counterpart, discuss issues and challenges.  I focus on delivery and ensure we are on track with our milestones.

 

Gina Palminteri Soviero, 39, Principal Agent/Owner GEICO Durham Local Office

Gina Palminteri Soviero, 39, Principal Agent/Owner GEICO Durham Local Office

Gina Palminteri Soviero

What do you love most about your job?

In my average day I get to interact with the local community and help them make sound insurance decisions. I also enjoy mentoring young insurance agents.

How did you get into this line of work?

I learned about GEICO from my cousin. John was an employee at GEICO and told me what a great company it was. After a 16-year career at GEICO moving through nearly every department in the Virginia Beach office, I was chosen by GEICO to be the Durham local agent.

What advice would you give someone who wants to do what you do?

I feel that in my business, or in any business, customer service and your word are most important. Hard work, honesty and caring are foremost. You must treat every customer like family. Warren Buffet said it best, “If you can’t put it in your hometown newspaper don’t do it.”

Describe a typical day at your job.

I can be found doing anything from running to the store for supplies or attending a local community event. It could be helping someone save money or giving them good insurance advice. Basically it is spent with people.

 

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