How Did I Get Here? Taking Risks That Pay Off 

By Rachel Carlson, CF APMP 

Making a career change while eight months pregnant during a global pandemic is completely insane… right?  

This is the question I asked myself (and anyone around me who would listen) over and over as I considered the state of my career. I had been fundraising for non-profit organizations for nearly 10 years but felt intellectually uninspired and socially burnt out. So, before I committed to making a life-altering decision while hopped up on pregnancy hormones, I did the only logical thing a Type A Virgo knows to do: I made a list.  

I listed all the tasks I enjoyed about my current work, the skills I valued using daily, the skills I wanted to improve, and generally tried to capture those moments in my day-to-day work where time passed quickly, and it didn’t feel so much like work. I eventually found myself looking down at a list of words like writing, organization, strategy, and people. Using these words, my deep dive on the internet led me to the now very familiar website of and a career path that seemed to perfectly align with my existing skill set and with my intention to pursue something new and challenging: proposal management. 

At that moment, I made a commitment to myself. I decided I would study for and take the APMP Foundation Certification exam before my due date. If I enjoyed what I was studying, and if I passed, I would pursue in earnest a new career in proposal management. Given my unique time crunch, I spent two weeks of nights and weekends pouring over the APMP Study Guides and the Body of Knowledge to prepare for the exam. I passed on August 2 and my daughter arrived on August 14. And, within the next few months, I was fortunate to land a great job on this new path.  

It has been over two years since I made that “crazy” decision and I haven’t looked back. APMP gave me the resources to identify a meaningful career, the structure to master it, and the confidence to pursue it. Whether you are new to proposal management like I was or a veteran proposal manager like many of those whom I admire in this community, APMP offers something for everyone looking to make the most of their career.  

About Rachel 

Rachel is a Proposal Manager at Kearney & Company, P.C. She holds her APMP Foundation Level Certification and is a member of the Marketing Communications Committee for APMP GMC. Rachel has a master’s degree in Social Work from Tulane University and a Bachelor of Science in Communication from the University of Miami. Rachel works remotely and lives in Bettendorf, Iowa. In her free time, she can be found spending time with her husband, two children, and their dog, a Labrador Retriever named Mae. Rachel can be reached at