How Did I Get Here?

I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up.  

I used to think that most people had a clear idea of what they wanted to be, but now it seems that very few actually do. There are some who just know what they’re meant to do, but for many of us it’s a constant journey to figure it out. I just sort of fell into my career as I was making my way through life. So, for anyone who wonders how I got here, here’s my backstory.

As I kid/teen, I enjoyed all sorts of things. I read, drew, sang in the choir, played viola in the orchestra, tutored other students, played the guitar, painted, studied photography, and built theater sets. I probably enjoyed the creative activities the most, but I also knew I wanted security in my life and didn’t think I should rely on any kind of artistic talent I may have had. 

When I turned 16, I got my first job at TCBY and found that I had an inherent curiosity about how the business functioned. I observed the systems that were in place and listened to the owner, managers, and my coworkers whenever they complained about something. I started to find solutions in my head for scheduling issues, inventory problems, and opening/closing procedures. It felt like pieces of a puzzle were falling into place and I could see the bigger picture. I started offering suggestions, and by the time I graduated high school, I was managing the store.

I started college as a Business major just because it seemed fairly universal in how it could be applied. I enjoyed learning the basics at school while also getting actual work experience, still at TCBY and also building spreadsheets for a customer who owned a real estate business. It was important for me to be independent, keep learning, and stay financially responsible. I didn’t get much sleep, but juggling the full-time job, part-time job, and full-time course load made me very good at time management and multitasking. 

When I was 21, I started getting a bit restless. I felt that if I didn’t force myself to make a big change, I might get stuck in complacency, which I definitely didn’t want to do. So without a real plan, I trusted my instincts and moved to LA, where I got a job as the business manager for a post production audio house. I had no idea what post production was, but I was happy to learn. I spent a year getting  their systems in order and developing a better understanding of the industry. I even took some music publishing classes at UCLA so I could help build a new division of the company.

But overall, my time in LA wasn’t great, and I came back to Vegas the following year. I started working at a production company that was barely functioning in a high level of chaos. So I jumped in, got everything organized, and became the Operations Manager, while also learning more about the different elements of production. A few years later, another production company in a similar situation recruited me to be its Director of Operations. I spent ten years there and pretty much worked in every capacity possible – manager, producer, accountant, coordination, casting, locations, post supervisor, etc. It was a lot of fun for the most part, but I still didn’t feel like I was doing what I was meant to do.

In 2015, I decided to go back to school to finish my degree, hoping I’d somehow be inspired. But what I found was that I already knew more than what was being taught in the Business Management program. It covered the basics, but it didn’t get into important things like how to set prices, how to interact with clients and employees, how much to save for taxes depending on your business setup, what deductions are allowed, etc. I talked to a number of people with MBAs who somewhat sheepishly admitted that, even though they had the fancy degrees, they struggled when they started working because their education didn’t translate as much to real world as they anticipated.

And that’s where Aardvark Girl was born. I realized that I knew most of what I knew because I was driven, determined, and I figured it all out for myself. And while I’m grateful I was able to do that, I feel like I can help others so they don’t have to do it alone. Running a business can be overwhelming, but it can also be incredibly validating. I still love production work, and I’m fortunate to have great clients who trust me to handle their projects. But the coaching/consulting (I still haven’t found a word I like for that) element came into play because I genuinely want to help people and make a positive difference in their lives. I get a different level of fulfillment when I’m working one-on-one with business owners and individuals to help guide them towards their goals. I especially like working with creatives because I’m able to handle the details while they can focus on what they’re meant to do.

So, it was never my dream to be any of the things I am now. It took a combination of hard work, intuition, and timing to get here. And even though I love what I’m doing, I’m also constantly evolving, looking for new opportunities and ways to expand what my career looks like. And I’m pretty sure I’ll never settle on just one thing.

So if you feel like you don’t have any idea what you should be doing, you’re not alone. Keep trying new things. Know that it’s okay to take chances. You’re allowed to change your mind, as many times as you want. Keep doing whatever you need to do to find the work that makes you happy. No matter how old you are, if you don’t know what you want to be when you grow up, just keep searching until you do. Appreciate learning along the way, knowing that the journey itself can be just as rewarding as the destination.

Amanda McCuneComment