Leaping Without A Fallback

Sarah McIntosh is a strategic thinker and a creative problem solver. She’s the Manager of Foundation Relations at a local DC nonprofit, fundraising and bossin’ up as a first-time manager.

Feeling overlooked at her first company, Sarah knew it was time for a change. Overworked, underpaid, and underappreciated, she resigned without any job prospects to fall back on. It was a risky proposition, she knew, but it was a move that sent Sarah on a journey of self-discovery to find what really made her happy.

I caught up with Sarah to see how she pursued her passions and found the balance she needed.

Emilie: Dang, Sarah! Resigning without anything to fall back on takes a lot of courage. What caused you to make the leap?

Sarah: Some people might call that reckless, but it was essential for my health, happiness and growth. I was 25, in my second role at my first company, and after 3 years of working to my max every single day, I burnt out. Anyone could see I was handling the workload of more than one person and taking on extra projects, working extra hours, and through lunch without receiving any recognition or credit for doing so. To make matters worse, I was working for a boss who wasn’t giving me the support and development I craved. When I left I had no job prospects to fall back on; I wasn’t interviewing or submitting my resume elsewhere at the time, but I was at my wit’s end.

After months of self-discovery and a grueling job search that felt like it might never end, I landed exactly where I was meant to be: in an amazing new position at a company that supports me, values my work, and provides me with opportunities to grow and learn on the job.

E: Congrats! It sounds like you’re really passionate about your new position. What else has shifted for you?

S: My three greatest passions in life are the three p’s: positive social change, photography, and puppies. Escaping a toxic workplace enabled me to pursue those passions more consistently. As a social change advocate, I’m committed to a career in the nonprofit sector, where I’m excited about opportunities to work for organizations that take innovative approaches to community problem-solving. During my time off for self-discovery, I solidified my plans for grad school. I’m starting an executive master’s program this fall. I’m also in the process of growing my photography from a hobby into a side business. Travel photography is my forte. I love exploring new cities and stopping to photograph everything that inspires me along the way.

E: What impact do you feel  Bossed Up had on helping you make this shift?

S: During the “10 Year Reunion” exercise at Bootcamp, I mentioned having sold a photograph as a recent accomplishment in my personal life during every introduction. After Bootcamp I decided to get serious about making that dream a reality. In the year after Bootcamp, I launched my own website and Instagram page, sold my first two photographs, started doing volunteer photography for an animal rescue group, and won numerous online photography contests.

E: That’s amazing! And all while navigating a huge job transition, too? Good for you, Sarah!

S: Thanks so much, Emilie! At Bootcamp, selling a photograph was a “maybe 10 years from now” dream I had. Now, all that and more has become a reality in less than 2 years.

E: Right on! What advice do you have for other women like you?

S: No matter what tough situation you find yourself in, don’t be afraid to take that difficult first step and remove yourself. You’re doing what’s best for you, and there’s always something better around the corner, even if you have to wait for it.


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