Career 180: She traded in her trading job
Angela Cheung started out as an information technologist before going to work as an equity trader for a private fund. In 2005 she began a career as a clinical social worker after graduating from Hunter College with a master's in Social Work. She works at YAI, a nonprofit agency that serves individuals with developmental disabilities and their families, and operates out of her own private practice in Manhattan.
Why did you switch? September 11th affected me a lot. Shortly after that, I did a lot of soul-searching, searching for meaning and purpose in life. A few months later I went on a [Catholic] pilgrimage to Medjugorie, a small town in the Western region of Bosnia, and there I had a really profound spiritual experience - I had a very personal encounter with God. The Virgin Mary was allegedly appearing to people there. And after I came back I knew that I wanted to be in the profession of helping people, so I took a bit of time to discern exactly what profession I wanted to go into, and I finally decided that I wanted to go into social services.
What are some pros and cons of your new career? The work is not easy. Being a therapist, the burnout rate is high. I really need to make sure that I am centered and focused because if I'm not centered and I'm not focused I wouldn't be able to do what I do. [However,] this might sound cheesy, but I really believe that my patients, they have inspired me to be a better person and because of them I am so much more appreciative of the things that I have that I often took for granted in the past. I do a lot of work with parents who have children on the Autism spectrum and these parents they are the most selfless, dedicated, hardworking and resilient people that I know. They make sacrifices for their children constantly and their love for their children is unconditional, and they're the ones that really inspire me.
Are you happy with your career switch? In the beginning I had my share of fears and doubts, because it is such a big change from my original career. [But] the longer I am in this profession, I really am certain that this is my calling, and I really love this because I do this with my heart.
Do you think you might change your career again? Absolutely not, I think this is it.