You spent your 20s working toward building your dream career, but now that you’re in your 30s, what do you do when you’ve, well, changed your mind? Or maybe you never quite figured it out, and you’re now ready to commit to something you’re passionate about, whether it’s a job, a city, or just a new way of life. To celebrate the career changes that can come at any age, we’re debuting a new series, Second Life. Each week, we’ll hear from women who got over their doubts and fears and made the biggest changes of their lives.
Career paths no longer take the linear trajectory they once did and Pamela Schein Murphy is proof of that. The entrepreneur is now at the helm of her own lifestyle website named The Select 7, in which she profiles celebrities, influencers, and other notable guests, but her own job history is far from typical.
Although she always had a passion for creative journalism, Murphy found herself pivoting from writing to working at a major talent and literary agency in the early days of her career. When she found the agent life didn't suit her, she swapped careers again, opting to work in her husband, Food Network's Chef Marc Murphy's, restaurant. While working front of house at LandMarc, she also managed to start her own film production business, which was responsible for producing the romantic comedy flick Something Borrowed.
"My career path is less path and more twisty walk through a confusing and sometimes mystifying forest," Murphy admits. However, the unexpected path is what led her to strike out on her own and create the content she wanted. "It was really time to rediscover my voice and my passion and to create something that I could call my own," she says.
In this edition of Second Life, Murphy shares how her many different career paths helped her recognize her true passion and why she never stopped following her gut in the process.
Tell us about your first career path
My career path is less path and more twisty walk through a confusing and sometimes mystifying forest. I, like all good, liberal arts students, majored in English and minored in psychology and women’s studies. As college came to an end, I was sure I wasn’t done being educated but unsure of what I wanted to do. So, with my desire to write, but not to be a writer necessarily, I started looking at grad programs. I landed squarely on NYU’s School of Journalism Master’s Program, specifically for magazine journalism—the perfect combo of “creative” (feature) writing and research.
I was lucky enough to be accepted, got my degree and went on to work at a few magazines (Mirabella, Elle, Hamptons) before partnering up with a friend and starting my own.
Madison was a lifestyle mag with gorgeous photography, incredible writing, and a terrible business plan. We lasted for four years, though, much to the surprise of everyone in the industry. After we folded, I tried to enter the “real” magazine world but was overqualified and underqualified all at the same time, so I moved into book agent-ing at ICM, for no reason other than I loved books and I loved the agent I worked for (his name is Sloan Harris, and if he’s reading this I want him to know he was hands down the best boss I ever had).
Turns out, though, I’m not agent material, so I left.
Around that time, I got married, and we had our first child. My husband, a chef, opened his first restaurant, Landmarc in TriBeCa and so I spent some time running the front of house while being a mom and starting a small film production business. I worked for a brief period with filmmaker and actor Ed Burns, made a movie (Purple Violets) and produced another (Something Borrowed), but that business was also not for me (independent films turn out to not be all that lucrative).
The natural thing for me to do at that point was to join our restaurant group full time. So I did, but not in the front of the house—because guess what? The customer is not always right. The natural hole for me to fill there was in marketing and branding, which I did for about 10 years. See what I’m saying about the twisty walkway? But there is a theme in all of these jobs: I love to put things together, love to create, love to organize.
How did you make the transition from working in marketing to founding your own website?
Starting The Select 7 was really kind of a mistake. I’m a huge researcher and I love to plan. About three years ago, I curated a trip to Paris for a friend’s birthday, and it was on the last night of that trip that one of my friends told me I should start a blog. I answered with a resounding no: The idea of a blog wasn’t all that appealing to me. My daughter (she was 12 at the time), said, "What about a website?" And that struck a chord because it felt like something I could really create: the design, the words, the topics.
She actually started the website for me that year for Mother’s Day, and I took it over and started playing around with the idea of curation and recommendations, of sharing information, and it turned into The Select 7. I was able to do both the site and my job with Benchmarc for about two years, but as things really ramped up with The Select 7, it just became too hard to do both, and I found my real satisfaction was with building TS7, so I left marketing behind.
Tell us about your current career path
The Select 7 is a curated exploration into the worlds of motivation, food, beauty and wellness, travel, fashion, home design, and social media by some of the most interesting people out there. We unlock the worlds of today’s top tastemakers, acting as an exchange hub for people who want both the aspirational and the totally obtainable to share their finds, recommendations, and ideas.
In other words, what we’re doing is using social media to share information, to create community. At the end of the day, we all want to feel connected, and that’s what we’re all about. And as a career, it’s ideal for me. It allows me so much creative freedom, I get to meet and promote super-interesting people every week, and it keeps me in the modern world loop.
What have been the biggest challenges in your many careers and why?
I am an entrepreneur and I think the biggest challenge is that it can feel isolating at times. I’m also always working with a pretty steep learning curve, and that can be difficult but it can also be incredibly challenging. I choose challenging.
What triggered your need to change this time around?
I guess the truth is that there are no mistakes, so starting The Select 7 was something I really needed to do for myself. I worked with my husband, in his business, for a long time, and it was really time to rediscover my voice and my passion and to create something that I could call my own. There’s no better feeling for me.
Why is your current career path suitable for your personality?
My brain is always working, and having a platform that allows me to literally do anything at any time is so liberating for me. And putting the pieces of the site together totally plays into my type-A personality—I can organize, create, and learn constantly. I’m also a workaholic and I do much better when I have a full plate.
What's the most important thing you have learned in making a big change in your career life?
Go with your gut. Always. It’s never wrong.
How did you move past the fear of change to pursue your passion?
I learned a long time ago that change is never easy, but it’s never a bad thing. If you stay stuck, you stay stuck, and that feeling is worse than the fear, so you get past it.
What do you love most about your current role and why?
I love that I get to use the platform to promote all kind of interesting people doing interesting things. I love introducing these personalities, and I love that I get to create something that feels so different from so much that’s out there. We highlight people from so many backgrounds—from huge names like Olivia Culpo or Lydia Hearst to people you may have never heard of, but will be so much better for knowing. It’s all positivity all the time.
When you look back and reflect on your previous career do you have any regrets? Or are you still really happy with your decisions?
No regrets. At all.
What change do you want to see—or pave the way for—in your industry?
I still think we’re all trying to figure out what all of this social media and technology means, and I think it’s such a frenzy. I hope that what I’m doing with The Select 7 injects some authenticity into all of it. We really need to be careful about the unrealistic expectations that are out there and make sure that what we’re promoting on our pages is real—no matter who the person or what the product is—it needs to be real.
What advice do you have for other women who want to take a leap but fear change?
As I said, change is never ever a bad thing. It can feel scary and unknown and insurmountable, but it always ends up being the right thing.
What is the best piece of career or life advice you've ever received?
Never go back to the well.
For more inspiring stories from successful women who've made major career changes, tune into MyDomaine's Second Life podcast.