Way back in 1995 I submitted a resume for a job in the travel department of an investment banking firm in New York City. It was my first job in New York and I knew I didn’t have the educational credentials required for a position in a white glove firm like this. So I fudged a little on the college education portion of my resume. I got the job! It was 6 months by the time that part of my application was verified. I was able to get through the Human Resources hearing because back in the early 1970’s there were NO computers to document anything and now in 1995 there was no microfiche to view either. Microfiche was not used anymore. They let me stay with the firm. Because of my Long Island Retail Travel Agency experience, I was not unfamiliar with Guerilla Marketing. One day I realized that there were 3000 employees with the company and they all received the company newspaper. I saw an opportunity and requested management if I could write a travel column for the paper. They said yes, and the rest was history. I created a 5 million dollar “travel agency” inside a corporate travel department and I was given the title Leisure Travel Manager. It was a great job and truly the highlight of my career in travel.
I was first forced to reinvent myself the July of my 50th year, just after September 11th, 2001. At the time I was working in the travel department of an investment banking firm in Manhattan. Of course, since travel was not their core business my department was the first to go. Finding another job, especially in travel, was impossible during that time. To make matters worse my husband of 25 years decided he “outgrew” me. I now had to hire attorneys and fight for my house. Not easy to do while surviving on unemployment and my severance from the company. Emotionally and physically I was at rock bottom. After the shock and depression wore off I was determined to stay in my home and resume my life. I accepted a position as a “floater” in a nationwide travel management company in Rockefeller Center. A floater is the lowest job you can take in my business. I was surprised they hired me at 50. I went from $90,000 plus benefits and bonuses to $32,000 with a three-month probation period. I just wanted my life back, it was a foot in the door. I knew it was important to get up, get dressed and go to an office—back in New York City where I was working since 1995. I just knew I had to start somewhere.
In two years’ time I was promoted to East Coast Operations Manager with 13 offices under my supervision. The company continued to grow and joined forces with American Express Travel and then later acquired The Travel Authority. My company was changing, and I began to sense the New York office was not going to be the main hub. The owner stepped aside and became chairman of the board. There were new managers, SVP’s EVP’s and all the V VP’s. The old guard was gone, and I knew at some point I would be too. I was with the company for 10 years by that time. My life was also changing again. This time for the good. My son got married and I now had a grandson, my mother was elderly and needed more attention during the week. Plus, I got married again. I wanted to leave on my own terms. I quit my job the week after we got back from our honeymoon. A few months before I left I started my own travel company, JDK Travel, Inc. and became an independent contractor. For the past five years I’ve been very busy growing JDK Travel, Inc. and taking care of my family.
All in all, it’s very important to stay positive, be creative, look for opportunities, and keep moving forward.
Joanne DeSalvo Kreusher, CTC
President, JDK Travel, Inc.