Breaking Through the Journey of Finding My Niche in Career Development

written by Brett Pucino

“I may not have gone where I intended to go; but I think I ended up where I needed to be”- Douglas Adams

This quote perfectly sums up my career journey so far. I originally attended SUNY Oneonta in 2009 as an aspiring English teacher. Spoiler alert: that’s not what happened.

I stuck with education until my Junior year, when my idealistic views of teacher life were replaced by the bureaucratic reality. I realized I had zero desire to teach in a public school, where I would spend my days teaching to a state-mandated exam.

I decided to drop Education and make English my main major, and then I picked up Communication Studies as a minor.

Fast-forward to 2013 and I graduated with a Bachelor's degree in English, a Minor in Communication Studies, and not a single clue what I wanted out of life. I fell into a post-college depression upon graduation.

2013-2014: The Depths of Post-College Depression

“Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when only he is sad”- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

From May 2013 to January 2015 was the roughest 18 months of my life. I was the quintessential “quiet kid” in High School, and I worked very hard to shed that persona in college. I even took 4 public speaking classes my final semester of college for what was a total-immersion assault on high-school me’s biggest fear.

Oneonta was the first place I experienced genuine friendship. It was the incubator of so many priceless memories, and then just like that, it was over. I was heading back home. Back to the place where high-school me lived in his prison-shell.

This transition hit me harder than most. While my friends who majored in things like Business and Accounting found jobs by the end of the summer, I was stuck back at the Woodbury Commons working retail. I started to regret getting an English degree. I spiraled into a depression that lasted months, until finally I went to see a therapist.

January 2015- June 2015: The Light

Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light- Albus Dumbledore

I resisted therapy at first. I let the stigma surrounding mental health keep me from getting the help I needed sooner. Thankfully, after a recommendation from my cousin, I finally decided to give therapy a try. I figured if my cousin liked this therapist, then she might work for me.

During these six months of weekly therapy sessions, my outlook on life was transformed.

My therapist helped me realize this depression and anxiety that resulted from graduating college was something that affected me through most of my adolescence. She also helped me realize the root of my focusing issues that have been plaguing me since college was undiagnosed adult ADHD.

At the beginning of this stage of my journey, I was buried by the crumbled bricks of who I thought I was. By the end of this stage, I was able to see the light of who I could be shining through.

June 2015- November 2015: The Rebirth

“The Phoenix must burn to emerge”- Janet Fitch

Ever since I first read Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, I’ve been obsessed with the Mythos of the Phoenix. This obsession was reinforced by the capstone course I took in Greek Mythology for my English degree.

In my eyes, the light that I saw to get me out of my depression was my old self bursting into flames. This left me free to, like the Phoenix, rise from the ashes and begin building the person I knew I could become.

This newfound positivity towards life got me back into freelance writing. It was something I did, and loved doing, since I was a sophomore in college, but I lost my motivation to write during my post-college depression.

In May of 2015 I began searching for freelance writing gigs with bylines. All of my previous experience had been with ghostwriting, and I was ready to start building a name for myself.

In June I landed my first byline gig with an upstart career advice blog in the millennial space. I had written on virtually every topic during my 3+ years as a ghostwriter, so I took the gig.

I'd like to say that I'm still with that blog, but I’m not. Such is the life of working with a startup endeavor. But that time with Ploymint made me realize one very important thing about myself: I loved giving career advice. I started to feel like I finally found my niche.

November 2015- Present: The Breakthrough

“It’s being in the right place at the right time, and taking advantage of your opportunities”- Lee Majors

It was late October of 2015. Growing my personal brand on Twitter ( had been going great. I had met dozens of amazing people through regularly participating in Twitter chats, the first of which was #MillennialTalk- a Twitter chat hosted by Millennial Lifestyle expert Chelsea Krost

I was enjoying writing for Ploymint, but I wanted my writing to get to a bigger audience. I decided to reach out to Chelsea about guest blogging after seeing her send out a tweet looking for bloggers.

I wrote my first post on Post-College Depression, and the feedback was amazing. I officially got bit by the blogger bug.

That November there was one day in particular that , looking back, forever changed my career trajectory.

I was sitting in the cafe portion of my local Barnes and Noble sipping a latte while nose-deep in a book about resumes, which I was using for research regarding a Ploymint article.

I was jarred out of my research by a voice from the table next to me.

“Doing some research for your job search?”

I turned my head and to see the source of the comment and saw a friendly looking man sitting at an open MacBook. He had an aura about him that made me want to engage in conversation.

“Actually, I write for a millennial career advice blog and I'm doing some research for an article.”

His eyes lit up.

“Wow really? I’m actually a career coach and executive recruiter here working on my book”  he responded as he pointed to his MacBook. He handed me his business card. “ My name is Jay Lang

“Brett Pucino” I said as I shook his hand. “So what is your book about?”

That question turned into a two-hour conversation regarding his alternative method to the traditional job search, as well as the specific plights facing young professionals when it comes to developing their careers.

We mutually decided we should meet again, and that meeting turned into a weekly occurrence. Just like that a mentor-apprentice relationship was born.

Since that meeting Jay has diligently taught me his job search methods, while I have helped him brand his methods into the Breakthrough Methodology  and work on growing his social media presence.

He got me my first paying gig as an aspiring career professional in March of 2016 teaching a month-long daily class onhow to use social media & personal branding in the job search at SUNY Orange.

The positive feedback I received from my attendees, most of them twice my age, made me certain that I had finally found my calling in career development.

In some ways, I still ended up a teacher. I just teach job search strategies instead of Shakespeare. But I still love the bard, so I’ll wrap this up with a quote from the man himself:

“Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt”

If you're ready to get over your fear to attempt and ready to find your professional purpose, then I'm ready to help! Reach out to me on Twitter and let's chat.