Lost Girl of the Week: Sera Snyder

Lost Girl of the Week, Volunteering & Giving Back — By on October 12, 2011 at 6:00 am
Sera Snyder left her safe, secure job as a financial analyst, and followed her dream of working for a non-profit after being diagnosed with a Desoid tumor at just 26 years old. She’s now the Executive Director for Back on My Feet‘s Philadelphia and Baltimore chapters, which helps homeless people build confidence and make connections through running as well as offers job training.  Sera is also an advocate for Desmoid Tumor research and is tirelessly raising dollars and awareness for desmoid research: www.runningforanswers.com.

“I never thought I could work in a career I really loved.  I never thought I could wake up every morning and spend my day pursuing my passion and getting paid for it.  From the time I was a teenager my dream was to live a big, corporate life.  All I wanted for my life was prestige, money and status.  I never really thought about what I would do to reach this dream and if I would be happy.  Didn’t money just make you happy?  My goal was to go to college, get an important corporate job after I graduated and get promoted through my career until I had the corner office.  I used to sit and day dream about the corner office and the windows and how important and happy I would be, “oh, when I got there.”

I was not really quite sure what I would be doing when I got “there,” but that didn’t matter, just as long as I was important and making money.  I wanted to be noticed and respected and admired and I would push and push and push until I got there.

Four years after I graduated college, I was doing a good job of getting to “important.”  I had landed a job at a financial services firm directly out of school and I had worked my way through a variety of positions.  I was getting closer and closer to my dream every day.  The problem was, I wasn’t happy.  The prestige was there, or at least I felt important because I was working in my corporate job, my bank account was padded thanks to my corporate salary, but my soul was empty.  I was living in motions – get up, go to work, sit at a computer, go to meetings like a zombie, and try to get excited when the board approves your proposal.  Repeat.

Lucky for me, during this meaningless time in my life, I found purpose and joy volunteering my time with a local organization that married my passion for running with my desire to give back to my community, Back On My Feet.  I supplemented my lack-luster corporate life with morning runs at local homeless shelters that filled my days and life with joy, happiness and a feeling of being needed.  It was a past-time, a passion and fun that filled my free time.  I never thought it could be more.

I do not remember the day I decided that maybe, just maybe I needed a career change or the moment I realized I could live my passion everyday and get paid for it, but I’ll forever be grateful that I realized this. I started asking myself questions like, what makes me happy? What is my mission in life?   I started interview people that worked outside of corporate America and it was amazing!  These people were happy AND they made great money AND they were so respected in their field.

I started paying attention to what really made me happy, not a fake happy, but a sunshine in my belly happy.  I started to really dream about a new kind of success – living my life to be happy and fulfilled and I found that money and status really were not that important to me.  I loved to help others live their life to their best potentials. I loved giving back and I love revolving my life around a healthy lifestyle.  I started to manifest my dream career and I found it – right in front of my face.

In 6 short months, I went from a miserable career in financial services to a career working in the non-profit sector that filled each and every moment of my life with happiness.  I took a job with Back on My Feet, the organization I had been volunteering with for over 2 years.  My job was to help lead the running program that used running as a vehicle to build self-confidence and self esteem to the homeless population.

I was giving back, helping, feeling needed and loving my life.  I found an inner peace that finance could never provide me.  I also chose to go back to school part time to pursue a passion in health and nutrition.  Upon graduation, I would have a degree in health coaching, another fulfilling way I can give back to those struggling with their health and nutrition choices.

I continue to live my dream every day and I feel like I never work a day in my life.  After 7 months of working for Back on My Feet, I continue to ask myself everyday if I am living my mission and I push myself to fulfill my mission everyday – and now I do daily. I am now the Executive Director for the organization and it’s such a satisfying and fulfilling feeling that no money could buy.

People often ask me how I did it.  How did I have the courage to leave the safety of my corporate job to work in my passion?  I don’t know how to better answer this question other than to say I started to tell the truth.  I started to be really honest with myself about what made me happy, not others.   I started to live my dream by being true to myself.  In this process, I believe I have earned the respect and admiration of others that I so ignorantly yearned for years ago.  I have found “there” that place I had been looking for all those years and its better than I ever dreamed it would be.”

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  • AnitaMac says:

    You are inspiring! Congratulations on transitioning into something that has real meaning to you. I find myself asking the same questions. While I don’t feel I am part of “Corporate America” – I feel the strong influence – and the ramifications – on what I do! I am still trying to figure out “where to next” but it certainly inspires to see others do it so successfully.

  • Gobi Gear says:

    So have been there myself. Life can be so fulfilling outside of finance. Good luck!

  • What an inspiring story about following your dreams. The great thing about life if your dreams can twist and turn and if you follow them you can change your course as many times as your heart desires. An amazing story of finding out your passion and helping people while following your own adventure. Thanks for sharing