“I’ve always had a lot of questions about the traditional American workforce, the whole 9-5 structure,” Morgan Silverman said frankly, not 10 minutes into our conversation about her intriguing career journey from social worker to real estate agent in less than a decade as a working professional.
“I wasn’t sure it was for me.”
You can’t say she didn’t try though. Silverman worked in her field of study for two and a half years before determining, once and for all, that it wasn’t a “lifestyle” she was interested in. In spite of great management, tons of learned skills, and stage-setting for her career, Silverman chose not to stay with it, opting instead for a work-life balance most people can only dream of (and few are brave enough to go after).
“It’s 2:45 on a Tuesday, and I’m sitting in my kitchen talking to you. I’m making more money than I was before. I’m free,” Silverman said without a hint of arrogance when I questioned her current state of contentment.
Her self-awareness didn’t surprise me—after all, she does possess a masters’ degree in social work, and she did cope in an incredibly stressful environment for a period of time—but I still found it refreshing. Of course, that didn’t stop me from throwing her a couple of hardballs related to her career change.
“Do you regret going to grad school? Do you ever miss being a social worker?” I asked.
“Part of me felt like I was selling out a little [when I made the career change], but I’m happy and I do use some of the same skills.”
She allowed that her feelings might be different if she was saddled with student loans, but without those weighing her down and combined with the fact that she’s both good at what she does and happy doing it, there was really only one answer: “I have no regrets.”
To get the full picture of Silverman’s career path, read on.
Can You Explain How You Ended Up in Real Estate?
In 2013, I completed my MSW from The University of Michigan. While at Michigan, I specialized in more micro-level social work (referred to in social worker terms as interpersonal practice and mental health).
I completed my practicum in the counseling department of Jewish Family Service, a wonderful sounding board for my career that also offered excellent supervision.
My partner and I (boyfriend at the time, husband now) moved to Toronto not long after I completed my degree for his job, but I couldn’t get work there.
I volunteered some and took continuing education courses in the social work department at the university. After about six months of mainly doing yoga and eating carry-out, I decided I wanted to move back to DC because I was bored and felt unaccomplished—so I started applying for jobs and interviewing remotely.
I was offered three different positions and opted to accept an offer as a case manager at Community of Hope, a nonprofit organization helping underserved families in the DC area.
How Was That Experience?
I met great co-workers, and in the beginning of my time there, the management was helpful and pro-active. I stayed for one year. The work entailed long hours for minimal compensation, and I found it difficult to live a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
When I was offered a job at a private psychotherapy, I took it. After about a year there, though, I started slowly transitioning to real estate.
Can You Talk About How That Transition Took Place?
My husband I were buying a house in DC, and I have family in real estate, so it wasn’t a huge jump in that sense.
I remember thinking, “This is something I’d be good at.”
I cold-called top real estate agents in the area and asked if they needed an assistant. One of them did. He hired me and became my mentor. I shadowed him, literally went everywhere he went. He was instrumental in helping me to succeed.
I got my license after about a year of being an assistant, and soon I started taking on clients of my own. It was a slow transition though; doing both jobs part-time helped me determine if real estate was the best track professionally. It turned out it was.
You Mentioned Using Skills Learned in Social Work in Your Real Estate Role. Can You Elaborate?
Communication. In each field, you have to convey your point in a concise way so that people understand you. This is what I did with the families I was working with and it’s what I do now when I’m taking clients through the process of accepting an offer.
Also, conflict resolution. Stress management. Those serve me well now.
Do You Have Any Career Advice for Wannabe Career Changers?
Be willing to do things that are pretty undesirable in order to learn. As an assistant to a real estate agent, I would literally lick and stamp envelopes.
Want to read more career-changer stories? There are plenty of them out there, but here are a couple of our personal favorites: