Story by Juania in conversation with Suzanne Bernstock, President of Workville
Suzanne Bernstock knows all about how to make a successful career change. Before becoming the President of Workville, a coworking space located in Midtown Manhattan, she worked in the fashion industry making her way to the top as a buyer for Saks Fifth Avenue and Vince. She found herself in fashion, hoping to combine all of her interests, after she’d graduated from Tufts University with a degree in Architectural Studies.
She knew she never saw a career in fashion, but she wanted the experience in her 20s to learn and play her dues. Before she made her final decision to switch to a completely new industry, she spent a year prepping herself and building a solid foundation so she had the tools, experience, and skills to make that career change. She did everything except go back to school, from interviewing industry experts about topics she’d never studied to taking workshops to learn about new lines of business.
“I think because I paid my dues, and because I had a solid foundation, that took away the fear of a career change. Because it’s all about building blocks. So I firmly believed that I had these great experiences, and that it was time to put them to use in a different way. So I actually couldn’t have done this earlier.”
And while she had no idea what industry she’d end up in next, she just knew what excited her and what she was interested in doing: helping and interacting with people, solving problems, and overseeing how people experience architecture and a space.
That year and the time she spent soul searching, led her to walk Workville. She walked in one day off the street – she didn’t have an interview and she hadn’t researched the space at all. As she walked around with the founder, she blurted out, “Hire me.” He asked her a few questions and the next day she had an interview with eight of Workville’s partners. Eight ‘thank you’ notes later, she was hired. No planning, no prepping (unless you count the intentional year she spent grooming herself for this next big chapter in her life).
Her story is phenomenal, and she is a phenomenal woman who has a lot of useful advice to offer those who are on the brink of switching careers, who’ve thought about how to get into a new industry, and are considering some serious changes in their lives.
“I didn’t have building a vertical company as a foundation yet, so I did it for a year, but because I knew this wasn’t my future anymore, I started to ask around, and I started to pay attention to people around me who weren’t complaining about work. And I was like, ‘Oh my god…if you’re complaining, it’s your fault.'”