From Peace Corps To Hospitality, This Career Changer Built Her Business Abroad

Casa de Arroz, boutique hotel in Costa Rica

Katie Meyers was raised in Oregon, studied history at Earlham College in Indiana, and started her career in the Peace Corps, working with orphanages in Costa Rica. Thirteen years later, Meyers is still in Costa Rica, currently as a real estate agent, boutique hotel owner and vacation property manager in Tamarindo. (That’s actually how we met – Katie Meyers was my agent when I purchased in Costa Rica and is property manager for two of my rentals.) In-between the Peace Corps and real estate, Meyers had taken over a struggling bar, turned it into a thriving business, and sold it after a few years to pivot into real estate.

The vast majority of my coaching clients want to change careers, and many are stymied because they assume they need a specific degree or body of work to make the change they want. Katie Meyers has changed careers multiple times (and even changed countries) to create the career that fits her interests and priorities.

Married with one young son, Meyers shared her career change journey:

Follow your interests

I was lucky enough to have a family that encouraged me to study what I was interested in and not focus on my future career…. Costa Rica was really an accident!  I had joined the Peace Corps as a way to live internationally and was hoping to be placed in a tropical locale.” – Katie Meyers

Meyers concentrated in Jewish history in college, which isn’t related to her work today – one more data point that you don’t need a specific degree to land the job you want. Instead, she followed her interest, which led her to live and work abroad. Are you assuming you need graduate school or some other credential to get started on your next career?

Play to your strengths

I really fell in love with Tamarindo and after my initial year I knew I wanted to stay! I did a little bit of everything to make that happen. I really enjoyed working in tourism and felt that it was the best fit for my personality and skill set. My knowledge of small business [from earlier years working in her mom’s small business] helped a lot and I worked for several different tourism-based businesses organizing the back end of their operations.” – Katie Meyers

Meyers used her past experience (with small business), plus what she enjoyed (tourism) to carve out her early career path. Are you willing to get started on your dream career with the skills and expertise you already have?

Take advantage of unexpected opportunities

Owning a bar just fell into my lap! A friend had a newly remodeled bar that wasn’t working well and he called my partner and I to see if we’d be interested in taking over. We jumped at the chance and 24 hours later we were cleaning and getting ready for opening night! The bar grew quickly in popularity and we were working harder than ever!” – Katie Meyers

Meyers didn’t set out to own a bar specifically but recognized a good opportunity when it came. How can you think more expansively about your next career opportunity?

Know when to pivot

After several years the lifestyle became exhausting. My partner and I agreed that if someone came along and offered us our “magic” number we would sell and just like that, it happened. Without listing, buyers came along and offered our magic number. It was a sign, and we took it!” – Katie Meyers

Although Meyers and her partner invested years to turn the bar into a success, they didn’t hold on when the business no longer aligned with their priorities. Do you need to think differently about your next move?

Use research to find your next career

After selling I wasn’t sure what to do next. I knew I wanted to invest my earnings in Costa Rica and since I no longer had a regular salary, an income property seemed like a logical step. At least until I figured out my next career! We [Meyers and current husband] spent 6 weeks in Europe staying in Airbnb properties, which was a relatively new platform at the time!”  — Katie Meyers

You don’t need to know your exact next step to make a pivot, but give yourself time to research your career change options. Meyers did six weeks of on-the-ground research before pivoting to vacation rentals. How will you research and test out your next career move?

Match your career to your priorities

The house we were living in then was for sale and we could see the Airbnb potential. We bought it and started converting it into individual vacation rentals. We were starting a family at the same time and loved how the Airbnb rentals allowed us to earn an income be home with our baby…. It’s important that I enjoy the time with him now as he’s only young once, and remember that I can work for many more years if I choose to!”  – Katie Meyers

Meyers enjoyed tourism and had other jobs in the field before, but she picked her next move to allow time flexibility for family. What are your priorities for your next career move?

Play to your strengths, part 2 – tap into your old jobs

I had an amazing number of contacts from working in the bar and I still use the same marketing techniques I used in Sharky’s [the bar] for real estate so the change was easier than I expected.” – Katie Meyers

Your previous, seemingly unrelated career might still have value to your current endeavors. Meyers used her network and marketing experience. What can you bring from your past jobs to your next career?

Play to your strengths, part 3 – tap into innate abilities

My mom owned her own business when I was growing up, my sister owned her own business for many years, I just always assumed I would work for myself.”  – Katie Meyers

Meyers just knew she would run her own business, as it runs in the family. What do you know for sure about yourself that might reveal a good career move for you?


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