CLEVELAND -- Jowan Smith, a 36-year-old single mother on Cleveland's east side, had two kids to raise.

So for 15 years, she paid the bills by marketing, promoting and selling radio, print and television ads.

"Working in sales, living upside down, if anybody working in sales, they know what you mean. That means your commission is not coming," said Smith. "I said, 'It's do or die, I have to make a change here.' "

Smith knew she had to get unstuck. She had mouths to feed and bills to pay. But how?

Dr. Antoine Moss, a career coach, makes a living out of making dream careers possible.

"First you establish where am I now, what do I want to be and how do I get there?" said Moss.

He preaches PSE, planned strategic execution.

"Figure out where you are, where you want to go and how to get there," said Moss.

"I just knew I wanted to help people," said Smith.

Step One

Her first step was planning how to get from sales to a career as a county welfare caseworker.

"I knew the first thing I had to do was go back to school," said Smith.

Smith enrolled in online classes.

Step Two

"You have to develop yourself as a professional," said Moss.

Smith found another job, this time at a local high school.

"I was a mentor with at risk teens in the gang program," said Smith. Being able to network with all of those who are attached to that program, I was able to use those connections to help me get to the next point."

Smith adds her personal been there, done that piece of advice when she says, "Don't look past the small people. Always build relationships. I think that's very important."

Smith also picked up a second job working on the weekends with MRDD residents.

Together, she had 56 hours of part-time and full-time jobs and online classes.

Those 18 months were tough, but Smith's kids are her cheerleaders.

"The kids are my biggest support system. When I was in school and got good grades, we had a little happy dance we did. We motivate each other," said Smith.

Smith earned her business administration degree with a minor in marketing and a criminal justice degree with a minor in human services. But she wasn't done yet.

Step Three

Step three, execution, was right around the corner.

"Under execution comes, you have to be focused," said Moss.

Smith smiles when she says, "I wanted something bigger and better."

Now Smith represents Cuyahoga County in state hearings as an eligibility specialist.

"It was all about building these skills that I knew would help me once I got into the interview process," said Smith. "Don't set small goals. If you want to be the CEO, be the CEO! I'm trying to build an empire. I have a daughter going to college, a son right behind that will be going to college, so I have to show them, don't set the bar low."

"It was definitely worth it. It was definitely worth it," said Smith.

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