Case Studies - Career Launchers


Jeff (Spring 2004 - present)

“Marianne is your professional mom. She kicks your butt. She shows you how to do stuff. She cares about you. But there are none of the hang-ups or baggage that you have with your real mom.” – Jeff, 25

Jeff learned that when you’re fired, it’s often that the job failed you.

He graduated from Wharton, then studied in Thailand. He was smart, charming and industrious. But Jeff had been fired from his first corporate job, just six months in, when he came to Optima. 

“I had no idea what to do,” Jeff said. “My morale and confidence were down. I felt overwhelmed. I wasn’t sure how to sell myself.”

With Optima, Jeff learned that the job he lost hadn’t matched his talents or interests, and that his personality traits made it particularly difficult for him to accept being fired. Knowing this let him quickly move on. 

Then, Marianne and Jeff mapped out where his strongest skills lay – primarily in research – and rediscovered his interest in science, technology and the environment. That set his compass direction, and with Marianne’s guidance he structured his first true, mature job search. 

 “Other people I talked to philosophized, but Marianne’s advice was based on the facts about me,” Jeff said. “She helped me to stop spinning my wheels – I began moving in a direction that was logical.

“Marianne provided a structured approach to career management that helped me to understand and be confident in the decisions that I made and the actions that I took.”

Jeff’s structured research led him to an environmentally involved corporation with global reach and a West Coast location. He got in the door through volunteering, networking, and starting lower than he’d expected, part of a careful strategy Marianne advised.  

Today, through insight, hard work and persistence, Jeff is happy. “I’ve found the right place for me at the right time,” he said.



Caroline (Fall 2003)

“Marianne broke my personality down into bite-size pieces. I liked her, and I liked the way her counseling is structured into a process.” – Caroline, 23

Caroline thought she knew the career she wanted, then realized she was wrong
and had no Plan B.
For four years at an Ivy League school, Caroline assumed she would go on to study medicine. But when she went to mail her med school applications, she couldn’t bring herself to put them through the slot. This shocking realization – that her “dream” might not be what she really wanted – brought her to Optima.

“At that point, I didn’t know what I wanted,” Caroline, who was managing clinical trials in a hospital at the time, said. “I changed my mind every month.”

Optima helped Caroline make sense of everything she was thinking about her career. “Marianne doesn’t direct – it’s not ‘you like this, this and this – so you should do this.’ She asks the right questions, gets you thinking, never directs.”

Together, they established important details about Caroline’s likes, skills, interests and desires: she wanted to work in a knowledge-based business where efficiency and effectiveness were important.  She wanted work that had a social benefit. And she wanted to work with a concrete product, since she preferred environments with curious, interactive people. 

With Marianne’s guidance, Caroline began broadening her thoughts about “doctor” to encompass “health care,” which opened the door to consulting. “Business versus clinical really appealed,” Caroline said. To test this new direction, Caroline got a job at a company that tests medical devices.

“It’s a fantastic company,” Caroline said. “And going from a hospital to a ten-person company has been a great change for me.” Today, Caroline is on her way to business school and a public health program, getting what she wants out of her career without abandoning her original dream.