Freedom is a highly sought-after quality, which many would agree is a necessary component to living a happy life. And with so much of life spent at work, having the freedom to work where and when you like, and actually choose the work that you do, is a life goal many people strive to achieve.
Melissa Montero is one of these people, with the internal drive to chase her passions and do the work she wants to do, as well as the tenacity not to accept anything less. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in genetics, she began her career working at a cancer research institute in Seattle, eventually moving into clinical trials and management. When Melissa’s children came along, she took some time away from her work to focus on caring for them. The break offered her an opportunity for self-reflection, and when it came time for her to return to work, she realized her passions were elsewhere than science. A downturn in the economy also dried up funding for scientific endeavors, causing a scarcity of jobs in cancer research and making her decision to switch careers simpler.
A leap of faith pays off.
Now living in Miami, Melissa thought about her next move and considered all the things that made her happy. She had always loved to cook for people and entertain guests, and decided to make the leap into the hospitality industry. With no formal culinary training, and no qualifications other than her type-A personality, Melissa talked her way into a line cook position at a local restaurant. The job paid little more than minimum wage, but for the first time in a long time, she found herself waking up in the morning excited to go to work. Her passion for hospitality was ignited.
Shortly after that, Melissa and her family found themselves moving again, this time to New Orleans. The move provided an ideal location for Melissa’s newfound and budding career. She decided to aim high by applying to be a line cook at Commander’s Palace Restaurant, a New Orleans culinary landmark where a number of renowned chefs, Emeril Lagasse being one of them, honed their talents. Against all the odds she had weighed in her head, Melissa was offered the job, and she joyfully accepted it. The work was intense. Even as little as a thumbprint on a plate would get a dish refused. But Melissa thrived under the pressure, soaking up every lesson she could learn and progressing up through the ranks to become sous-chef at restaurants across New Orleans.
Realizing the need for another change
As the years went on, the physical nature of working in a kitchen began to take a toll on Melissa. She had always pressed herself to the limit, with a lifetime of active living, college athletics, and now over a decade of 50+ hours a week on her feet in restaurant kitchens. The damage to her joints and back eventually increased in severity to the point where she couldn’t continue in the same job. But she had the benefit of having learned how restaurants are run and decided to make the switch to working on the business side of restaurants.
Melissa was four months into her job as director of food and beverage for a hotel in downtown New Orleans when the COVID-19 pandemic began. In one day, her team of 30 people was laid off. She went from writing menus and workforce management to performing the cooking, serving, bartending, and dishwashing duties her former team was responsible for, five nights a week by herself. Her back finally gave out, this time requiring serious medical treatments to mitigate the pain. While her passion for hospitality hadn’t died, it was starting to seem that the work wasn’t agreeing with her anymore.
In January 2021, Melissa’s husband was offered a promotion to a new job in Nashville. She and her husband decided it would be a good opportunity and that it was time to move once again. Upon applying for a restaurant manager position in Nashville, she was contacted by Goodwin Recruiting partner Thomas Yengo to talk more about her experience and career goals. During this conversation, Melissa came to the realization that she no longer wished to continue in the hospitality industry and actually had real potential to work as a Goodwin Recruiting Partner. She was a strong leader who desired to take charge and make her own decisions. The mental toughness and connections she built during her hospitality career would help her meet the challenge of developing a network of qualified candidates. Most importantly, she could still work alongside the industry that she loved.
Freedom at work and extensive support
By June, Melissa was on board as a Goodwin Recruiting partner. She quickly excelled with her work in the hospitality industry and has also been able to use her experience as a scientist to do recruitment for the quickly growing industry of death care. Other partners and Goodwin Recruiting management have given Melissa constant encouragement to pursue any and all industries where she has an interest in learning the business and making connections. She’s able to work from her home, stay off her feet when she likes, and be there when her children come home from school. She has the freedom to set her own hours, travel and work from the road as she sees fit, and make her own decisions without having to answer to anyone but herself.
“I really appreciate that Goodwin Recruiting allows me the freedom to work with clients that I want to work with. Because I have so much internal drive, I keep myself busy and usually work from 7 in the morning until after 5 every night, but I can block off time where needed to be with my family and work from any location that has a good WiFi signal. And from day one, every single Recruiting Partner I’ve spoken with has offered support and themselves as a resource. They go out of their way to help people be successful.”
If you’re interested to learn more about becoming a Goodwin Recruiting partner, contact us today.