From Newscasts To A Nonprofit
Every day since 2011, Kim Fischer would deliver the day’s news to Salt Lake residents. Ms. Fischer was one of Utah’s most recognizable faces, as she had anchored ABC 4 Utah’s evening news for seven years before deciding, last November, to “unplug” her microphone and leave the world of newscasting to set out on a completely new career path with the local educational nonprofit, Waterford UPSTART.
Though quitting a job that was once your dream sounds terrifying to most (and for good reason), Ms. Fischer isn’t alone. According to a study from Bridge, as many as 22 percent of employees are planning to quit their jobs and everything they’ve spent decades working for, to pursue better career opportunities elsewhere. But what motivates these incredibly successful men and women to put everything on the line to pursue a career in a totally different industry? For Ms. Fischer, it was a simple desire for something different.
“There were many layers to my decision, journalism has always been my passion, so walking away from that was very difficult. But I started to find [in my last few years of journalism] that the industry itself is changing quite a bit,” she says also mentioning to me the kind of strain a career as a journalist had on her personal life and mental health. “Journalism is taxing. It is hard. Especially right now when everyone thinks you’re the enemy.”
In Search Of Something Different
Desperate to escape some of the tragic and heartbreaking stories she dutifully covered and eager to serve Utahns in a different way than she had with Channel 4, Ms. Fischer knew it was time to make a career change or risk a personal burnout. That’s how she found the nonprofit organization, Waterford UPSTART.
“When I started thinking about walking away, I said it would have to be for something that I felt really passionate about because I could never just work for a company,” she says, telling me how she ended up with the nonprofit group.
With a mission rooted in education and community service, Waterford UPSTART is a nonprofit nationwide state-funded kindergarten prep project that helps to prepare four and five-year-old children―who otherwise wouldn’t have had access to preschool―with the necessary skills for kindergarten through a series of free online classes.
“I looked into [Waterford’s] mission and I just thought that this organization [sounded] amazing, and it’s growing and I [wanted] to be a part of it,” she says. “My favorite part about this job is that I have the best bosses that I’ve ever had in my life and they get me, and they see me. To have bosses that respect you and care about you is so refreshing.”
Something New, Something Old
But the change didn’t exactly go off without a hitch. Starting work as the nonprofit’s public relations manager in December of 2018―just a few weeks after she departed as an anchor for Channel 4― there were a few things, like deadlines, that Ms. Fischer had to figure out for success in her new career field.
“No longer are the deadlines 5:00, 6:00, and 10:00 daily, they are all over the place so I have to learn to prioritize,” she says, advising others to be flexible and “take a lot of notes” when navigating career changes like these.
But it hasn’t been all new territory at Waterford for Ms. Fischer, despite the differences in industries and in the way she approaches her deadlines, she’s still found a way to get in front of the camera and tell powerful stories, just as she did at Channel 4.
“I still get to go out and storytell, only I’m telling stories about cute families whose four-year-olds are getting an education,” she spills. “My favorite part is putting together the videos to tell people about the wonderful work that we are doing.”
Because at the end of the day, it was the promise of wonderful work that inspired Ms. Fischer to make this career change in the first place and she hopes others aren’t afraid to make the same decision if they feel it’s right for them.
“There’s so much about journalism that I miss and I love that it will forever be my passion, which is why I look for it in every corner of this job. But I don’t miss the hours. I don’t miss the politics. I don’t miss the drama,” she says. “Listen to your gut if it’s telling you it’s time to move. If it’s a bad move, you can always go back to whatever your profession was in the past, you have the experience. If you’re feeling like it’s what you need to do, I say do it.”