Loni Love Offers Advice for Black Women Considering a Career Change
In high school we are told, go to college, get a degree and begin your lifelong career.
One thing I’ve learned since graduating from college is people don’t always end up in their field of study. We switch jobs or even career fields throughout our lifetime.
Currently, millennials are being judged for “job-hopping” and searching for “meaningful jobs”. A weird concept because jobs are for making money and side hustles are for passion, right?
I believe my peers are trying to blur those lines. A Wells Fargo survey found that millennials definition of success was centered on work as an avenue to happiness and fulfillment in addition to financial security.
Recently, I was able to ask Loni Love about her career change from engineering to comedy. Her response included this same idea of pursuing happiness as the root of that transition.
Loni Love is a comedian, NAACP image award-winning talk show host, author, tv personality and auntie. What you may not know is Loni graduated from Prairie View A&M University in Texas and studied electrical engineering. By day she worked as an engineer and by night she went on comedy gigs.
In an interview for Essence, she said, “I got laid off and I never looked back.” This is a common thread I have seen since I’ve started SisStayReady.com talking to Black women who’ve experienced a moment that pushed them to say I might as well take this leap.
Loni made time for a few questions before hosting “My Journey: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,” a Women’s Entrepreneurial Forum for Aspiring Female Business Leaders.” It was an evening celebrating Essence Magazine featuring Essence President of Communications, Michelle Ebanks and the new owner, Richelieu Dennis presented by Germaine Leftridge, Founder, and CEO of Ubiquitous Beauty|Hair|Health expo and Sheila Eldridge, Founder and CEO of Miles Ahead Entertainment.
Loni walked into the room at the Newseum in Washington, DC smiling and relaxed in her black jumpsuit and black wedges. Her hair was in a straight shoulder-length bob, basically, just as stylish as she always is as the co-host on the Emmy® nominated talk show - The Real.
As a comedian, Loni brings positive energy and warms up any environment by making you laugh. During the interview, Loni didn’t hold back her honest thoughts on the industry and the importance of empowering black women.
I asked Loni what made her evolve from comedy as a side hustle to her career. Of course, being the honest woman she is her immediate response was, “The Money!” and we both laughed.
She elaborated and said it came down to two things; an opportunity to tell her story and a realization that engineering was not bringing her joy. This is a constant conversation in the entrepreneurial world.
Do you pursue something because it makes you happy or do you pursue what makes you happy in your spare time and continue to work your 9 to 5?
“I was not happy as an engineer. I knew I could do it but I wasn’t happy,” said Loni. “I wanted to share my story and I’ve been doing that. I want--especially black females to know that if you are in a place where you are not happy--you can make a change.”
Loni was also asked the advice she would give to women who hate their jobs and want to start their own business. Her suggestion was to start slow and small.
“You have to study what you’re trying to do. Go to school or get some experience from somebody. That’s what I had to do. I’ve been doing comedy for over 15 years. I was on the road. I learned a lot by being on the road. That was my degree in comedy.”
When asked about challenges working in this industry she noted the pay inequalities that black women continue to face. “It’s our job as women in media and entertainment to address those issues.” One platform for raising those issues is the historic Essence Magazine. She said Essence is able to tell our stories the way, we like to tell our stories.
Another example of a successful career switch and excellent storyteller is Ava DuVernay.
She was a recent guest on The Real where she also addressed this topic. Ava started out promoting movies for filmmakers and thought it would be cool to try creating films. Now we have Selma, A Wrinkle in Time, and Queen Sugar to name a few.
She said, “I didn’t pick up a camera until I was 32 years old which is older as a filmmaker. You can always change. The path that you’re own it doesn’t have to be the path that you end on. You can always evolve.”
As you continue your own personal journey don’t forget these examples of Black women who made career changes and are excelling in their current industry.