Esther Eberle's first career was stay-at-home mom. When divorce ended that option, she had to find a job. More important, she realized, "I was not on a clear path. Overnight that changed for me and I had to be on a career path."

She worked in the mortgage and title industry, then managed the office for a small IT consulting firm. Along the way, she discovered that she loved to manage people. What she saw of consulting careers looked intriguing: "I love to start something, work real hard, finish it up and move on," she said.

When the economic downturn ended the office management position, Eberle faced a long job hunt. She used the opportunity to get project management training through the Minnesota Workforce Centers. "I found out that I really, really like it. I got good feedback from my instructors," Eberle said.

The job that finally came along was in real estate relocation, not project management, but she took on reporting, forecasting, and other project management tasks. "I was thinking, 'I'm sure there are transferrable skills here'," she said. She confirmed that hunch by talking to a friend who is a project manager. The friend introduced her to a recruiter at Hollstadt & Associates, a Twin Cities IT consulting firm, which quickly placed her as project coordinator.

Eberle called the journey of the past 12 years "one I would never trade. My boys saw me go through two years of unemployment, training, ups and downs, and now the job that I am made for. I hope they realize that you never know -- all that you go through -- what it's for."

What's the best thing about being a project coordinator?

In the mortgage industry, you take the individual's situation and push it into the box. Here, it's all about flexibility and change. At the very beginning of the project, they just said to me, 'Okay, here it is, figure out how to do it.' I didn't know how much I liked that. I thought, "Really? I can take the ball and run with it? That is so me!" That's a fun discovery.

What are some of the challenges?

I didn't know a lick of Clarity software when I started. I was worried about that when they asked me about it during the job interview. I told them that in my previous job I learned three interacting software systems. Right now they're basically saying, "You're the Clarity guru and we're coming to you." When there are not answers, it's up to me to find them.

Do you plan to stay in consulting?

I've never been the one to say "Okay, I'm going to be here for 10 years." I have a little bit of this, two years, a year and a half of something. I was thinking "Oh, my gosh, Esther, you can't have a résumé that looks like that." Now, I just feel like the sky is the limit -- there's so much freedom! I can see myself going forward; I see that my résumé has a clear path: "She was like that all the time -- she just didn't know it."

What is your career path?

I'm going to become a project manager, most definitely! Project manager, senior project manager -- I want to be the one responsible for the big picture. I'm going to study and become a Project Management Professional. I am super-excited about that.

MORE INFO

For more on project management and project coordinator careers in the Twin Cities, visit www. Pmi-mn.org.