Employee Empowerment and Travel: Taking Life into Your Own Hands

I’m not sure if I have unlucky friends, or if the media has lead me to believe that all “first jobs” should make you slum it as a low-level employee making no choices for yourself and getting bossed around by superiors. Either way, I surely didn’t expect to have the ability to take my career – or rather my entire life – into my own hands as a recent college graduate, only in the workforce for 5 months.

Sometimes things happen in your life and they light a fire within you. You feel motivated to do something new, something for yourself that you never imagined. As a lifelong Northeast Ohioan, that defining moment for me was after putting down “Wild,” a book by Cheryl Strayed. Cheryl went out on a limb and did something that was 100% for herself, a selfish but necessary adventure to hike the Pacific Crest Trail all by herself. That’s when I realized I needed to go somewhere on my own – big city life was calling my name.

I grew up in a small town near Warren, Ohio; I went to college at Kent State University – a whopping 45 minutes from my hometown; I landed my first job at Fathom in Cleveland. Northeast Ohio is my safe zone. But what do you do when you love your job and want a change of scenery? When you’re not sure if you want to make a long-term move? The risk of quitting a good job to find something new in a place you might end up hating is… scary.

Piece of advice: When you want something, ask for it. That’s all it took. When a company invests in its employees, it’s not just about the work. A good company empowers you to reach new heights in your personal and professional life. I started thinking about the possibilities and reached out to my direct support for some guidance. Next thing I knew, not only did I have my request to work in our Chicago office approved, but I was making plans for a quick transition out of Ohio. Within a month, I was packing my bags. To be honest, my coworkers at Fathom were far more supportive of my spur-of-the-moment decision to move than my family was.

I ended up spending two months in Chicago. My hour-long drive to the Cleveland office was replaced with public transportation to the Loop. My quiet neighborhood turned into city hustle and bustle. For me, two months was enough. But knowing I could stay as long as I wanted or come back in a few weeks was reassuring. I gained a new appreciation for Northeast Ohio – and the company that let me leave it.

I got to maintain communication with all my friends back in the Cleveland office while exploring a new place and enjoying plenty of new experiences in the Windy City. I didn’t have to change jobs, my daily responsibilities remained the same, and I felt truly in control of my own life and my own success. I gained a sense of independence that I didn’t previously have. I left the bubble of Northeast Ohio, if only for a little while. And it was the best decision I ever made.

About Abby Dunn

One Comment

  • Seth Waite says:


    Love the personal story about asking for opportunities. If you are a great employee there is little (within reason) your employer won’t want to do to help you continue to be successful and happy. We have a hackation policy at our office which allows employees to go work at any of our locations for a working-vacation the company supports. It’s the little things that make a big difference. Empowering employees to have new experiences though makes a big difference. Glad you enjoyed the windy-city.

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