My Career Path, from Accountant to Consultant to Professional Organizer

by Barbara Reich

My senior year at Penn was the first time ever that I didn’t have a plan. All I knew was what I didn’t want to do after graduation. I had explored career options within my major of psychology, eliminating one after another. I had considered law school, but concluded that a mountain of debt was too high a price for a degree that I didn’t really want. I thought about publishing, teaching, and advertising, but nothing felt quite right. Then, I heard about an Executive MBA program jointly sponsored by Price Waterhouse (now PriceWaterhouse Coopers) and New York University Stern School of Business. Depending on the semester, I would work or attend classes full or part time, and at the end of the program, I would have an MBA, no loans, and three years of work experience. I had never considered being an accountant, but I mailed a resume, secured an interview, took a train to New York City, and came back to Penn with a job offer. I was a little shell shocked, but it was a plan.

Unfortunately, the plan soon unraveled. I didn’t enjoy the business courses and had no passion for accounting. The months that I worked full time and went to school at night were brutal. I was staffed on a bank merger, working 12 hour days and weekends, leaving work to go to class, and returning to work afterward. I was exhausted and unhappy. And, since I had no time to even think about another job, I simply soldiered on, focusing on getting my MBA. At that time, I figured I could look to move internally to another area within PriceWaterhouse (an advantage of working at a large firm) while I came up with my next plan.

Before that happened though, fate intervened. In one of my MBA classes, I worked on a group project with a woman who was a human resources management consultant. Her job sounded compelling to me, and by the time the class met again, I had updated my resume for her. A few months later, I had a job offer from her firm, the Hay Group. I found the work interesting, and the culture at the Hay Group to be congenial and inspiring. Yet, after five years, I decided to move to a smaller firm where I would have a larger role. That, it turns out, was one of those mistakes that work out for the best. I soon determined that there was no reason to bring my clients to another firm when I could run my own. So, Resourceful Consultants, LLC was born and just four months later, my twin daughter and son were born.

During the next two years, I worked part time, picking and choosing clients that fit my lifestyle. Then, one day, I got a call from a former Hay Group colleague. She had a client who wanted to hire someone to organize a home office. Her words were, “Don’t kill me, but I gave him your number. You should do this.” And, so I did, and I LOVED it. I started calling myself a professional organizer, told everyone I knew, and soon had my second client. That person referred a friend, and each of those friends referred friends, and my business began to grow. Soon, I was meeting with two clients a day, five days a week, helping them organize their homes, offices and lives. In 2011, the NY Times wrote a two-page story about me and my business, and that’s when things really took off. Today, I’m the author of a book (Secrets of an Organized Mom), and have appeared on The Today Show, Inside Edition, Good Morning America, Fox News, and New York 1. In addition to the NY Times, I’ve also been in the New York Post, Real Simple, InStyle, People StyleWatch, Family Circle, Better Homes and Gardens, AARP Magazine, and O Magazine among other publications.

When I entered my senior year of college, I had never taken an accounting course or heard of a professional organizer, so every job I ultimately held was unimaginable to me at the start of my search. I hope sharing my path will help others realize that it’s completely normal not to know exactly what you aspire to be. I’ve heard it said that if you do what you love, the money follows. I’ve also heard it said that if you love what you do, it’s not work. Both of those sentiments apply to my career, and I hope one day to yours.

More information about Barbara and her organization can be found at or

The 7 Most Important Lessons I Learned at Penn (and How They Apply to the Job Search)

by Monika Haebich, COL ’15

There is a lot that an undergraduate education at the University of Pennsylvania will teach you. Want to talk about Pataphysics or Premodern female authors, the nerd in me would be happy to talk. But while you’ll find the classroom lessons at Penn invaluable, it’s the lessons that extend past the chalkboard that you may find the most helpful in your job search. As I exit my undergrad experience at Penn and enter the perils of the “real world,” here are the lessons I’ve come to value the most:

1. There is no script.

Regardless of the career paths that others may choose, you define your own success. Reflect on and recognize your strengths, and use them to your advantage. Moving to Atlanta to pursue a career at a startup may not have been the typical Penn trajectory, but at a university where every student is truly extraordinary, it would be reductive to define a single “Penn path” as the one for every student. Write your own script, and don’t be ashamed of the path you choose.

2. Don’t expect anything to be easy.

There will be times when it feels as if nothing is certain, but if there is one thing that is sure, it’s that your senior year, you will be faced with uncertainty. Not everyone will have a job or school lined up by the beginning of senior year, the beginning of the spring semester, or even by graduation, but really think about what you want to do post-graduation, and be confident in your strides towards that. It’s okay to feel lost; it’s okay to be scared, but know that everything will be okay. Nothing remarkable will ever happen within the confines of your own comfort zone, so push yourself, and know that you are not alone.

3. Ask for help; it’s easier than doing it alone.

Always use your resources, and ask for guidance, advice, feedback, and help when you need it. While there may be times when you feel behind, remember that you are all going through this together. I made my first mistake when I, like many others, attempted to go through the job search and OCR alone. Without consulting Career Services, my friends, my family, or my professors first, I became overwhelmed with possible career trajectories and devoid of a sound understanding of what I really wanted to do. Reach out to your friends, your family, your loved ones, your professors, and listen.  Requesting the guidance or assistance of others is not a sign of weakness; it’s an opportunity to learn and grow. Seek constructive criticism, lift each other up, and be of and ask for help when you can.  Really, not everything is a competition.

4. Don’t take “no” for an answer.

In whatever you choose to do, there will be people who tell you “no.” Don’t let insecurity or a fear of confrontation prevent you from getting what you deserve. Proceed with confidence, and the world is yours.

5. Surround yourself with the people who motivate and inspire you.

Inspire yourself everyday. Whether it’s with the people on your team, in your sorority, or in your office, surround yourself with those who will encourage, nurture, and inspire your growth. Faced with different job offers, I knew I would end up at my current startup, rented., after realizing that I had surely found a supportive and incredibly inspiring team. Even before accepting the offer, I had more guidance from the team than I could have expected. Taking the time to address my concerns, speaking with me on multiple occasions, and referring me to all the resources I could possibly want, rented.’s CEO,COO, and Vice President of Marketing all proved early on that I had found my new team.

Look for the workplace that will transform you for the better, and never underestimate the importance of a supportive team.

6. You’re here for a reason.

Sure, a title and degree will afford you many opportunities, but it’s your drive and passions and desire to achieve that brought you here in the first place. Remind yourself of the bigger picture, and remember all of the things that brought you to where you are now.

7. There’s always more to learn.

As inspiring as a Penn education is, it is also humbling. Each class is a reminder of just how much of the world is left for you to explore, and that learning certainly shouldn’t stop after college. Even in my first, short five months here at rented., the lessons I’ve learned about new industries, my work, and myself have proved to be invaluable.

Learn from every obstacle, challenge yourself to broaden your understanding of the world, and know that Penn will always be home.

Monika graduated from Penn in 2015 with a B.A. in English concentrating on Literary Theory and Cultural Studies and minors in Consumer Psychology and Fine Arts. Originally from New York, Monika now lives in Atlanta and enjoys photography, polo, and traveling in her free time. She is a Marketing and Sales Associate at  You can read about a typical day in her life at our @PennCareerDay Storify page.

Day in the Life: Rhea May, ’11, Success Academy Charter Schools

Make sure you’re following @PennCareerDay on Twitter tomorrow, November 3rd, to hear about a typical day teaching at a Success Academy Charter School from Rhea May, Class of 2011!

FullSizeRender-1[2]Rhea May is a 2011 Penn graduate currently living in Brooklyn, NY. When she wasn’t in class, Rhea spent most of her time at Penn nestled in Platt Performing Arts House. She was an active member of the student-run group Arts House Dance Company, ran an after school dance program for Philadelphia middle school students (After School Arts at Penn), and served as the Community Service Chair on the PAC Executive Council. Rhea began pursuing her interest in the education field her senior year, when she worked as the Children Youth and Families (CYF) intern at the William Penn Foundation. After graduation, she worked as an Organizational Development Associate at Fairmount Ventures in Philadelphia, continuing to focus on education. In 2013, Rhea moved to Brooklyn to become a science teacher at Success Academy Charter Schools. She also teaches dance now too! Rhea now happily spends her days facilitating kindergarten robotics, designing fair tests with 1st graders to figure out the perfect mealworm habitat, and unlocking 5th grade dancers’ choreographic potential, among other things. Outside of school, Rhea spends her time practicing Bikram yoga, riding her new bicycle around Brooklyn, and taking pictures of cool plants so she can talk to her students about their adaptations.

Follow along with Rhea’s day on Twitter!!


Never a “Typical” Day

hope1bThis is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the Career Services Summer Funding grant.  We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending the summer.  You can read the entire series here.

This final entry for 2015 is by Hope MacKenzie, COL ’17

This summer, I worked at an innovative and unique advertising agency called Red Tettemer O’Connell + Partners. RTOP’s off-the-wall office was located on the top two floors of 1 South Broad Street in Philadelphia. The office was definitely a sight: the walls, floors, desks, and even bathrooms were anything from art pieces to Christmas ornaments to Elvis paraphernalia (in fact, there was even an “Elvis Room” was dedicated to the King himself). One time, upon walking in, a construction worker asked if the office was a daycare! The creative space was really just an outward display of the creativity that spread throughout the agency. RTOP is small but mighty; with powerhouse clients like Planet Fitness and Dial Soap for Men, they have clientele comparable to that of a much bigger, more established agency. In fact, RTOP won this year’s Ad Age Best Small-Sized Agency award. Overall in my position as a Social Media Strategy Intern, I not only learned a lot about the creation and spread of social media marketing campaigns, but I also gained a clearer understanding of the structure of an advertising agency.

hope2As a “creative” (a person working on the wording and visualizing of ads), I had a hands-on introduction to the advertising world. My bosses were really co-workers, and my tasks were both important and skilled. I specialized in creating social media posts and campaigns primarily with Planet Fitness, Dockers, Dial for Men, and Honest Kitchen. With a combination of tasks like researching trends in the market, creating presentations for the client, writing and planning the social media posts, or going to client presentations, no two days were the same. For this reason, it is difficult to describe a “typical day,” so instead, I’ll describe each of my tasks and how I’d go about them.

Researching trends in the market: Some days I would sit down with my bosses and fellow interns and examine an area or avenue that our client was interested in pursuing. On those days, I would research things like how to reach a certain audience, what strategies competitors used to break new ground, and how to utilize different platforms to achieve our goals.

Creating presentations for the client: After I conducted the research necessary, I would create PowerPoint presentations that would be critiqued by my bosses to present to the client.

Writing and planning social media posts: This is what I spent the bulk of my time doing, especially for Planet Fitness. I learned the voice of each brand that I represented, and I created a social media cadence of posts for every outlet – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc. This job required a lot of creativity and a complete understanding of how the brand was represented to the public. The cadence would then be critiqued by my bosses as well as the client.

Going to client presentations: On occasion, I would be invited to sit in on actual hope3presentations for clients. This granted me tons of experience in the logistics of how these meetings typically run.

Overall, I really loved my time at RTOP. I would like to personally thank all of the people who made this experience possible for me. Their motto was “be unforgettable.” This banner hung at the entrance of the office as a subtle reminder of their goals as an agency. Though I really learned a lot from this experience, I think that RTOP reminded me how important it is to do just that – to be unforgettable. No matter where I go in life, I know that this experience will stay with me, and this motto will ring true.

Follow @PennCareerDay Today to See Life at a Start Up!

Be sure to follow our twitter account @PennCareerDay this morning as Monika Haebich, a CAS graduate from 2015 tweets about her day at, a recently rebranded start-up.

haebich meeting

Monika graduated from Penn in 2015 with a B.A. in English concentrating on Literary Theory and Cultural Studies and minors in Consumer Psychology and Fine Arts. Originally from New York, Monika now lives in Atlanta and enjoys photography, polo, and traveling in her free time.

rented. helps owners of all kinds generate guaranteed, yearly incomes from their unused assets without the hassle and risk typically associated with rentals. Rather than self-managing or paying commissions or fees, owners are paid a guaranteed amount, regardless of occupancy rates, while managers provide turnkey service without charging commission or fees. rented. currently works with thousands of owners with assets across five continents.