The When I Grow Up Coach

Welcome to my About page! I’m Michelle Ward, and I’ve been offering career guidance for creative women as The When I Grow Up Coach since 2008.

You may have seen or heard me in New York Magazine, The Huffington Post, Etsy, Newsweek, Freelancers Union, the Forbes Top 100 Websites for your Career List or 100+ other media outlets. A boob cancer survivor, a Judge Judy contest winner, a pink ukulele player and an NYU alum with my BFA in theater, I live in Brooklyn with my husband and baby girl. I’m the co-author of The Declaration of You, which was published by North Light Books, and the teacher of Create Your Dream Career and Ditch Your Day Job, which were watched by tens of thousands of people live on CreativeLive.

I graduated from the International Coach Academy with my CPC (Certified Professional Coach) status in 2009. The program took me almost 2 years to complete after I finished 120 classroom hours, a research paper, and 60 coaching hours. In 2012, I received my PCC (Professional Certified Coach) accreditation from the International Coach Federation. That means that I not only abide by their standards, but that I have completed upwards of 750 coaching hours and have been personally recommended by other PCC-accredited coaches.

How I Became the When I Grow Up Coach

At 6 years old, I knew I wanted to be an actress. Being on stage is where I belonged, and it brought me to be a musical theater major at my dream school – NYU / Tisch School of the Arts.

Then all of a sudden, the life I was pursuing for 20 years wasn’t what I wanted anymore. I didn’t want to spend my “days off” sitting at auditions to sing 8 bars of a song and wonder where the day went. I didn’t want to get a job and have to pick up my life with one day’s (or one week’s) notice. I didn’t want to be a 35-year-old waitress/ hostess/ temp/office manager. I wanted my days to mean something.

So I got a real job. And another one. And another. And another. I went through seven jobs in four years, constantly trying to find “the perfect fit”. I’d get restless easily and fairly despondent, thinking that there was nothing else out there for me that I could devote myself to passionately and enthusiastically. One day I declared, “Enough! I refuse to accept that there is nothing else out there that I’m going to love doing!” I decided to put some chutzpah into my search. I was going to find My Dream Career.

Knew I wanted to be an actress at 6 years old
Majored in musical theater at NYU
Realized my dream wasn’t what I wanted anymore
Tried to find the perfect job
A career change workshop helped me realize that I wanted to help others
Discovered that being a creative career coach is the role I was born to play!

I enrolled in a Career Change Workshop at NYU and through a series of personality tests, exercises and conversations, I realized that I wanted to help others find their own path, especially “creative types” who wanted to find fulfilling work. I wanted to help them figure out what they wanted to be when they “grew up”, no matter their age! In March of 2010 – 2 years and 7 months after my first coaching class (not that I was counting!), I was able to give my notice as an Executive Assistant and become The When I Grow Up Coach full-time.

I realize in hindsight that I’ve been training my whole life to be a coach. My communication skills, my enthusiasm, my sense of humor and play, my desire to help people find their passion and my people-loving-personality makes this the role that I was born to play. And my certification along with years of experience with hundreds of clients makes this a role I can take center stage!